Interim Executive Director
Sameta “Sam” Rush comes to Yampatika with a wide range of experience in education and leadership. Sam has worked with Yampatika in the past as Youth and Programs Manager, was a Dean of Instruction at Colorado Mountain College, a teacher in the Steamboat Springs School District, and worked outdoor education at Alaska Pacific University and National Outdoor Leadership School. She is currently the Chief Financial Officer with Kleiber Investigations and Training, a company she shares with her husband, Dave. Sam serves on the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission.
Director of Adult Programs
Lexi grew up in Arizona and completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis in Outdoor Leadership and Education at Northern Arizona University. Since graduating she has worked ten seasons for the U.S. Forest Service. Her passion to educate, work with people and conserve public lands has led her to positions as an Archeologist and Wilderness Educator in Arizona, Wilderness Ranger in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Northern Minnesota, 3 seasons on a Wildland Firefighter in Northern California and locally on the Routt National Forest in Timber Management. Her passion for the outdoors and people continues into her personal life including mountain/road biking, trail running, backpacking, thru-hiking, canoeing, camping, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and anything else that takes her outside- all always better with good company.
School Programs Manager
Sheryl began her love affair with Colorado in 1999 while working for the Geological Society of America. She has spent the past 20+ years in the Rocky Mountains and Southwest working as a Geologist and educator. She has a bachelor’s degree in Geology from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, her home state, and a master’s degree in Education from Adams State University.
Her passion for environmental education and science led her to become an educator to pass on her enduring curiosity about and respect for the natural world to the next generation. She has worked as the In-Class Program Coordinator for Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE) program and most recently came from Denver Water, serving as the Youth Education Coordinator. Her appreciation of the outdoors extends outside of work as well. She enjoys hiking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skiing, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, travel, watercolor Plein air, and anything else that takes her out and about. She is also an avid photographer, dancer, and board gamer.
Camp and Family Programs Manager
Reece is originally from Denton, TX, and has been obsessed with nature since he first started cataloging the animals found on his family’s Ranch in the scraggly desert of Southwest Texas. From city parks to winding rivers and expansive lakes to wild, remote places, he loves getting to experience the thought-provoking beauty that nature provides everywhere. Even more, he loves getting to share that beauty and intentionally provokes the thoughts of others. Reece majored in Environmental Science in college with the main goal of always wanting to work outside. Luckily enough, he has been able to do that, leading and directing Camping and Outdoor Education programs in Colorado, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Colorado has always been one of his favorite places because of the amazing nature and unique people. In his free time, you’re likely to find him hiking, backpacking, skiing, biking, or chilling in a hammock with a good book. One of his favorite parts about working with kids at Camp is playing games, of which he always has a few up his sleeve.
Water Education Coordinator
Halie grew up in the Sandhills of North Carolina, riding horses in endangered Longleaf Pine savannahs, and went on yearly family ski trips to Sun Valley, Idaho. These childhood experiences fueled her passion for outdoor sports and environmental stewardship. She obtained a B.S. in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University and a graduate certificate in Climate Adaptation from NC State University. Halie has held many positions in outdoor and environmental education: including ski instructor, wrangler, compost tea brewer, and zero-waste educator, to name a few. In her leisure time, Halie can be found skiing, hiking, paddle boarding, or most likely, spending quality time with her horse, Leo, and her bunny, Maple.
Sue Hansen is a long-time local and outdoor enthusiast. She has a B.S. in International Business and Marketing from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a resort management degree from CMC, and is a certified massage therapist. She owns and manages SK Hansen, Inc., a company that provides bookkeeping, property management, massage, notary and pet sitting services. She brings these skills and organization to Yampatika. Growing up as a Girl Scout, Sue believes in the importance of outdoor education. When she is not working, you can find her bicycling, gardening, skiing and enjoying outdoor music festivals. She also enjoys traveling and exploring faraway places. One of her life goals is to trek in every major mountain range in the world.
Karen Vail is a Steamboat native and has been involved in Yampatika from its beginning–way back in the early 1990s. Karen received a B.S. in Horticulture, with a concentration in Botany from Colorado State University, and earned her Master’s Degree in Gardening from the Royal Horticultural Society in England. She rode the “big yellow bus” for a year on Audubon Expedition Institute during her first year towards a Masters in Environmental Education, finishing up at Antioch in New England. She runs her own landscaping business, and has recently published a phenomenal book with Mary O’Brien: “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Southern Rockies”. Karen also published a book of beautiful wildflower photographs, entitled “For the Joy of Wildflowers: Colorado Creations.” She has also created a DVD of local wildflowers.
Seasonal and Professional Naturalists
- Chris Becea, Adult Programs
- James Irvin, Adult Programs
- Mary O’Brien, Senior Naturalist
- Rob Thomas, School Programs
- Julia Moss, School Programs
Board of Directors
- Elliott Ludy, A. Scott Colby, PC, President
- Rachel Masters, Dax Mattox State Farm Insurance, Vice President
- Greg Friedman, FW Group, Board Treasurer
- Holly Hampson, Hello Heart, Past President
- Elizabeth Baldwin, UC Health YVMC Heart and Vascular, Director, Secretary
- Brett Bruyere, CO State University, Director
- Matt Kaufman, Colorado Group Realty, Director
- Don Jeffrey “Jeff” Steck, Community Volunteer, Director
- Melissa Dressen, US Forest Service
- Bill Dring, Retired
- Jaime Letson, Letson Enterprises, Inc.
- Libbie Miller, Colorado Parks & Wildlife
- Ed MacArthur, Native Excavating, Inc.
- Ward Van Scoyk, Attorney