Kristen Jespersen

Executive Director

Kristen grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area as the eldest of seven siblings. After marrying her husband Soren and moving to Steamboat Springs in 2009 she cultivated a fondness for hiking, backpacking, skiing, rafting and biking. Kristen also enjoys dancing and acting and has been involved with Steamboat Dance Theatre, a local non-profit that puts on an annual dance concert for adults for over a decade.

Prior to Yampatika, Kristen was the Development Director for a non-profit called RiversEdge West (REW) for 10 years. As the Development Director, Kristen worked with numerous practitioners, scientists, and educators to restore riparian lands and river systems throughout the Southwest. Her role was to facilitate collaboration across different sectors, fundraise, improve organizational health, encourage strategic thinking and build capacity for the groups doing the restoration work on the ground. She is excited to join the Yampatika team and bring her experience and passion to the organization.

Kristen enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, her 8-year old daughter and puppy. Other hobbies include cooking, traveling, and gardening.


Lexi Stine 

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. 


Sheryl Horton

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.


Reece Wells

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.


Halie Cunningham

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

Office Manager

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.



Senior Naturalist

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.



AmeriCorps Member

Bella was selected by Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education to serve with Yampatika as their Program Facilitator. Bella hails from Wilmington, North Carolina, where she had the incredible experience of growing up in a beach town. From a young age, she learned about respecting and taking care of the sensitive coastal ecosystems that she called home. She attributes this to first sparking her interest in being an environmental advocate. She attended North Carolina State University, where she earned a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, with a concentration in Conservation Bio. Bella has held many “boots on the ground” jobs such as serving as a member of Trail Crew, working in a lab dissecting otter stomachs, and on a sustainable trout farm as a ranch hand, to name a few. She is now excited to step into the environmental education world, and help others deepen their passion for nature and wildlife. When she isn’t working you can usually find her hiking, biking, or skiing with her two dogs, Anu and Tugboat.

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