Wilderness Fellows Program

The Wilderness Fellows Program works with land management agencies to preserve wilderness and keep it wild and full of adventure.  It employs highly educated and trained young professionals and places them with land management agencies across the country.  The Program was designed to do three things:

1.  Increase capacity where necessary for wilderness managers to accomplish complex, professional, wilderness tasks.

2.  Address the backlog of wilderness stewardship work across the National Wilderness Preservation System.

3.  Groom the next generation of wilderness professionals and connect them to people and places of work.

Fellows work on all manner of wilderness stewardship and manager issues, from wilderness character to outfitter and guide permitting to minimum requirements analysis, and everything in between.  Fellows are hired to match agency needs, and are trained extensively in the subject matter they will be working with.  

To HOST a Fellow, contact Heather MacSlarrow.

To STAY INFORMED about the Fellows program, click here to sign up for the Wilderness Fellows Newsletter.  We will always send position openings out to this network.


Lorena Cortes Torres has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Puerto Rico and recently completed a Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability with a concentration in Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan. She is interested in wildlife and endangered species conservation with a focus on forest and marine ecosystems. In the near future, she hopes to work for a land management agency preserving endangered pristine environments. Her true passion for wildlife conservation was first ignited during a summer internship in 2015 with the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center in Wisconsin where she completed a comprehensive Field Ecology course and conducted all types of field activities, from water and insect sampling to bird and herp identification. During this internship, she got to experience a sense of freedom and calmness as she was immersed with pristine wilderness and vowed to protect these wilderness areas. In her free time she enjoys watching movies, hanging out with my family and friends, eating ice-cream and doing outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and going to the beach.
 
 
Lorena is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 8.

Victoria Jarvis has been working as a Wilderness Ranger for the Forest Service since 2014. Over the past couple years she's put her interest in the Wilderness Stewardship Performance program to work by helping lead protocol and project development as well as implementation of WSP elements for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington. She is excited to now extend her work on WSP to include all Wilderness areas on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest through the SWS fellowship. She's passionate about the values of the Wilderness Stewardship Performance and Wilderness Character Monitoring programs because of the potential they have to provide consistent data for monitoring change in Wilderness. She believes that routine data collection and tracking is key to for the Wilderness Preservation System to be managed as the "enduring resource" entrusted to us by the Wilderness Act. Looking forward, she's interested in working on the Forest Service Wilderness Character Monitoring Team or other work relating to Wilderness policy or research and also loves any project where she can integrate her love for GIS, mapping and creatively displaying data. When she's not thinking about Wilderness policy or spending time in Wilderness, she's probably knitting sweaters, sewing, staring at topographic maps, shoveling snow, or sitting by the fire with her husband.

 
Victoria is a Fellow in USFS Region 6

Ali Laird is from Lolo, Montana and has a BA in Humanities from Villanova University and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research focuses on the ontology and values central to conservation biology. She is particularly interested in species concepts and the practical implications of the species problem on environmental laws and protections. She is also interested in wildlife reintroduction ethics, large carnivore management, and land use planning.  Ali has worked in western Montana for the Forest Service and various conservation collaboratives on a number of applied forest ecology and resource management projects, including invasive plant control, monitoring logging impacts, and documenting the effects of repeat wildfires on ecosystem structure. In her free time she likes to cook and trail run, and is always trying to get better at plant ID.

 

 

 

Ali is a Fellow in USFS Region 2


Tristan Mandeville earned undergraduate degrees in English and geography at Virginia Tech.  While completing an MS in Environmental Studies at Ohio University, he conducted independent research wherein he studied language use, polarization, and environmentalism among politically conservative leadership in coal mining communities around the US.  An alumnus of both AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, Tristan has formal conservation experience in Montana, North Dakota, Senegal, and Malawi.  Professionally, his interests span natural resource management, community engagement, and science communication. His hobbies include reading, hiking, practicing various art forms, and postponing his evening jog for another 20 minutes.  He is excited to represent the Society for Wilderness Stewardship in Idaho’s Salmon-Challis National Forest.

 

Tristan is a Fellow in USFS Region 4.


Ellen Ray graduated from California Polytechnic State University in 2017 with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration. Throughout her undergrad, she worked as a backpacking guide and discovered a deep love for untouched wild spaces. Understanding how essential it is to protect our natural land, she focused her studies on finding a sustainable balance between the economic, social, and environmental aspects of tourism, maximizing the positive impact of the industry. She spent the last two seasons working on the Chugach Natural Forest where she fell even deeper in love with Alaska's boundless open spaces and wild landscape. For her fourth season with SWS, she will be working on Wilderness Character Monitoring on the Los Padres National Forest in California. In her free time, Ellen finds endless enjoyment in playing music and hiking as high and as far as possible. She is thrilled to be back on board with SWS!

Ellen is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 5.

Corinne Ryan graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University. Her favorite experience in her undergrad was the study abroad semester she spent in Baja California Sur, Mexico, where she swam with whale sharks and sea lions, released turtle hatchlings, and came face-to-face with grey whales. Her career path has brought her to various wildlife sanctuaries, the Costa Rican rainforest, the tops of volcanoes, and down many secluded hiking trails. Corinne is broadly interested in ecology and conservation research, especially as it pertains to protecting wildlife and sensitive habitat. The way she sees it, wilderness has immense value in its ability to protect entire ecosystems and the species that they contain, and its recreational opportunities get people invested in land preservation. Her passion for wilderness work was ignited when she spent a field season evaluating potential wildernesses in remote areas of northeastern California. When she’s not exploring the forests, Corinne can often be found dancing, especially Brazilian zouk.
 
 
Corinne is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 10

Jessie Sheldon graduated in 2021 from Colorado College with a BA in Integrated Environmental Science, paired with a Studio Art minor. This interdisciplinary degree allowed her to pursue a wide variety of research opportunities, from exploring the impacts of climate change on Māori fisheries in New Zealand to analyzing diurnal treeline temperature patterns in Colorado. Her diverse interests converged last summer when Jessie teamed up with a non-profit in rural Alaska and conducted interviews with longtime locals, scientists, and policy experts to craft a holistic story of the Wrangell Mountains region. Jessie’s enthusiasm for rugged and remote landscapes is fueled by the time she spends in them, primarily through recreation, art, and leading trips. When she’s not on the job, she can be found heading for the hills with watercolors in tow, or jumping into cold bodies of water. Jessie is excited to begin this new chapter with SWS, and looks forward to working with new people and places in the Sierra Nevada.

Jessie is a Fellow in USFS Region 5.


Hailing from the embarrassingly urban Central Valley of California, Nate Stenson headed north after high school to the ponderosa pine forests of Washington, where he graduated from Whitworth University with a BS in Biology. His interest in conservation has developed to focus on equity, and in making wild places broadly accessible to all of the US population. This interest has brought him to apply to various graduate degree programs, of which he is now in the torturous process of making decisions on. Nate’s delight in untamed places stems from the lessons they teach (like don’t set your tent up too close to a pond when it’s raining), the odd creatures they sustain (salamanders), and the mysteries they hold (like what the heck is that loud squawking noise that’s getting closer to me). Some of his favorite protected lands are those of the Plumas National Forest, where he and his family would visit each summer growing up.

 
Nate is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 10

Michelle Tanz graduated from Western Washington University with a self-designed major in “Environmental Science in Society,” along with minors in Biology and Spanish. Her focus is the intersection between human and ecological systems through land management. She has worked for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as a Forestry Technician for the past two years and enjoys connecting people to the land through recreation. In between seasonal positions with the Forest Service, Michelle served as a technician on a marine research grant for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Western Washington University. She studied the potential impacts and mitigation strategies for shellfish production in the Puget Sound. Michelle believes that a variety of land management strategies, including Wilderness designations, are imperative for long term ecological sustainability. In alignment with her passions for wilderness areas, Michelle is an avid backcountry skier and North Cascades enthusiast. She enjoys long walks in the mountains and nerding out on plants.
 
 
 
Michelle is a Fellow in USFS Region 6

Cara Thuringer is interested in the human dimensions of conservation, particularly around diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation policy and programs. She holds undergraduate degrees in Environmental Studies and Film and Photography from Montana State University where she was selected for the Truman, Udall, and Boren Scholarships. She completed a Masters Degree in Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, where she researched the impact commercialization of mountaineering on Mount Everest on Sherpa populations. In the future, she plans to work in a research-oriented career in increasing equity and representation in outdoor spaces. As a settler working, learning, and living on stolen indigenous lands, Cara is dedicated to working in solidarity with tribals groups to right relations. In addition to her work in conservation, Cara is a rock climbing instructor and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the climbing community. In her free time, Cara prefers to be outside climbing, hiking, running, or playing fetch with her dog. 

 

 

Cara is a Fellow in USFS Region 4.


Shannon Wesstrom recently earned her Master’s degree in Ecology from Utah State University. Focusing on visitor experiences and the ecological changes of backcountry campsites in coastal Alaskan National Parks, she learned the value of consistent and accurate data collection for long term environmental monitoring projects. As a recreation ecologist, her enthusiasm for the outdoors can be traced to the Appalachian Mountains and the beaches of the Carolinas where she has spent countless hours hiking and scuba diving. While her thesis work was her introduction to more remote landscapes, she is excited to continue finding solitude in Wilderness areas across the nation. She hopes to continue serving parks and protected areas by studying human-environmental interactions to inform management decisions while promoting sustainable recreation practices, environmental stewardship, and supporting inclusion initiatives to make open spaces safe and enjoyable to access for generations. When she’s not recreating outdoors, you might find her baking, reading, or planning her next trip.

 

Shannon is a Fellow in USFS Region 9


Stephen Wood is a Wilderness Specialist, musical composer, and educator with a holistic view of the world.  Stephen has an interest for the profound social constructs found in wilderness philosophy and legislation. 

New to SWS in 2021, Stephen is working on California’s Los Padres and Angeles Forests developing Baseline Wilderness Character Monitoring (WCM) Reports for the Sespe, Matilija, Dick Smith, San Rafael, Magic Mountain, and Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness Areas.  Previously, in 2020, Stephen worked for the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) developing WCM baselines for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. 

Stephen’s current position in wilderness management has come through an interesting path combining musical inspiration with wilderness outreach.  As a Wilderness Composer, Stephen has traveled the United States in search of inspiration from our country’s wildest places. Public lands artist residency programs have developed a deep connection with Wilderness.  To learn about Stephen’s wilderness composing adventures and hear his music visit www.stephenwoodmusic.com.

Extended wilderness education include SAWS’ Wilderness Skills Institute and U. of Montana’s online graduate course “Managing Wilderness Ecosystems”.  Stephen is trained in Wilderness First Aid and Leave No Trace. 

In his free time, Stephen enjoys chess, growing vegetables, and exploring the world with his wife, Lauren, and their new daughter, Josephine Phyllis Ntemeyem. 

Stephen is a Fellow in USFS Region 5.


Kimi Zamuda earned her Master of Environmental Science degree at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES). While at FES, she worked with local landowners and conducted mammal research using camera traps; studied and applied the policy sciences framework; and became deeply invested in resolving human-beaver conflicts. She is passionate about wildlife and land conservation that promotes human-wildlife coexistence and protects natural areas. She believes strongly in understanding people’s needs, values, and views of conservation and wilderness, and the importance of inclusive, science-based natural resource management decision making. She aspires to work as an interdisciplinary wildlife conservationist to create lasting, community-supported wildlife conservation plans. She is excited about this experience in public land management and better understanding how people study, view and interpret wilderness. In her free time, she’s usually found looking for wildlife, hiking, and talking about how awesome beavers are to everyone who will listen.
 
Kimi is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 4.

 
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