THE TEAM

Thorne’s programs are managed and implemented by an experienced staff of nonprofit professionals and environmental educators. Thorne maintains a small year-round staff and hires more than 30 seasonal instructors for its camp each summer.

Thorne is governed by a Board of Trustees which makes policy level decisions that guide operations to ensure the fulfillment of Thorne’s mission. All of Thorne’s Trustees volunteer their time and contribute their talents in ways that best help Thorne connect youth to nature. 

CLICK HERE if you are interested in joining the Thorne team.

 

Dr. Oakleigh Thorne II / Founder, Honorary President, & Bird Banding Instructor
303.499.3647 x 104
[email protected]
Julia Abell / School Programs Coordinator
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Julia (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in the summer of 2021 as a Summer Camp Instructor and now works as the School Programs Coordinator. Julia grew up in Minnesota, playing and exploring outside from an early age. She got her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Anthropology, blending her passions for cultural continuity and environmental justice. Since graduating, Julia has worked in environmental education programs for youth and families in Minnesota and Colorado. Her favorite part about teaching is seeing children’s faces light up when they get the chance to play and connect with Mother Earth. She cares deeply about providing more equitable access to outdoor spaces and hopes that her work can continue to support youth and families’ loving relationships with all life on Earth.

Leann Arend / Deputy Director
303.499.3647 x 112
[email protected]

Leann (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in 2020.  She has ten years experience as Chief Operating/Financial Officer in Washington State, working with Outdoor Recreation and Conservation and Public Education Advocacy non-profits. She has a B.A. in Business Administration, Finance from the University of Washington.  Leann connected to nature as a kid growing up in Alaska; camping and fishing with her family and currently enjoys trail running, camping, hiking, biking, and skiing.

Lauren Barth / Preschool Coordinator and Lead Preschool Teacher
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Lauren (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team while in high school as a volunteer and returned for the summer after finishing her major in Recreation Outdoor Education with an emphasis in outdoor leadership and youth education. Lauren also has an ECE certification through Front Range Community College and over six years of experience working with outdoor youth education programs. Lauren believes that the connection to nature at early ages is not only developmentally beneficial in the experience of free exploration, but it also helps build a connection to the spaces around us as stewards, leading to a better environmental future. In Lauren’s free time she can be found making jewelry out of retired skis, rafting, climbing, biking, running, and hiking with her dog Peri. 

Natalie Becker / Senior Manager of School Age Programs
303.499.3647 x 109
[email protected]

Natalie (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in late 2022. She has ten years of experience as the executive director of a residential summer camp in Oregon. She is a professional educator and holds a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Natalie believes deeply in the summer camp experience as a means to connect young people with themselves, others and the rest of the natural world.

Julia Birdsell / Lead Preschool Teacher
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Julia (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in the fall of 2023. She received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at the University of Minnesota in 2022. Julia grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and spent most of her time at Lake Michigan or camping up north where she found her love for the outdoors. Julia developed her passion for nature-based education while interning at a forest school in high school, and the passion grew when she student-taught at an outdoor preschool in Minnesota. She believes that integrating nature with young, creative minds produces the most productive and impactful learning environment.

Rachel Brett / Director of Community Partnerships
303.499.3647 x 102
[email protected]

Rachel (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in late 2022. She has a B.A. in History from Brown University and an M.S. in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England. Her experience includes leading backpacking and sea kayaking expeditions and teaching in informal and formal classroom settings; she also spent six years as the Youth and Inclusiveness Director for Wildlands Restoration Volunteers. Rachel is especially passionate about ensuring that all youth and families have equitable access to nature. When she’s not working, Rachel spends her time hiking, trail running, gardening, eating hummus, and playing with her two young children.

Keith Desrosiers / Executive Director
303.499.3647 x 105
[email protected]

Keith (he/him/his) joined the Thorne team in 2010 and has a B.A. in Government from Skidmore College and a M.A. in Public Administration from the Rockefeller College. Keith has served as an Executive Director, Development Director or Nonprofit Consultant for Colorado environmental nonprofits since 1997. Keith has extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising, operational efficiency, and board development.

Sarah Grove / Volunteer and Field Trips Manager
303.499.3647 x 118
[email protected]

Sarah (she/her/hers) joined our growing team here at Thorne in early 2021. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management from Auburn University in Alabama. For nearly a decade, Sarah has been working as an informal educator at non-profit organizations that focus on environmental education and early childhood education. Sarah is passionate about connecting people, especially children, and nature; fully believing that … “in the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we are understand; and we will understand only what we” experience! (quote excerpt from Baba Dioum)

Silje Hayes / Assistant Preschool Teacher
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Silje Hayes, pronounced Sil-yuh or Sil for short, (she/her/hers) is a graduate of Colorado State University with a BS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. She has worked with children in many different capacities over the years, starting as a summer day camp volunteer at 17. Since graduating from CSU, Silje worked with children at outdoor summer day camps, as an EcoWeek Instructor at the CSU mountain campus, as a paraprofessional in Poudre School District, and most recently by guiding outdoor field trips for students in the Denver Metro area. She is beyond excited to be working with Thorne Nature Preschool. It is her belief that children who develop a love of nature will become lifelong stewards of the earth and Thorne Nature Preschool helps children to love the outdoors.

Danielle Henshaw / Human Resources
303.499.3647 x 114
[email protected]

Danielle (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in 2021 and uses her extensive background in human resources and bookkeeping to support Thorne programming by keeping the general operations at Thorne moving forward. In addition to an HR background, Danielle was a Summer Camp Director, Outward Bound Instructor, Case Manager, and Medical Technician. Being outdoors and connecting with nature has been a life long passion and now Danielle enjoys sharing those activities with her family- and her kids LOVE the Thorne summer camp program!

Greyson Holt / Summer Camp Manager
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Greyson (he/him/his) has been an educator for over a decade, teaching a diverse range of ages and subjects. After graduating Texas A&M University, he taught middle school in Texas and led youth summer camps in the New Mexico mountains. He then spent three years in Spain teaching English as a foreign language, learning Spanish, and exploring the Basque mountains and coast. He returned to Texas to teach special education in an Elementary classroom for another 3 years. Through each stage he was able to deepen his relationship with nature in unique ways. From nature play with siblings, to mountain coast exploration, to backyard science experiments, his wonder of the outdoors is something he has not outgrown, and loves to share with students.  He happily joined the Thorne team in 2022.

Ian Jensen / Logistics and Supply Coordinator
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Ian (he/him/his) joined Thorne as a summer camp instructor in 2021, then joined the team as a full-time environmental educator in 2022.  He loved nature as a child, playing on rooftop gardens and building forts in the woods, then discovered a passion for education while working at a summer camp in the Adirondacks.  He graduated from Warren Wilson College with a degree in Environmental Studies and went on to work for various environmental education organizations in NC and NY.  He is now also working on a Masters in Nonprofit Management and loves to spend time in the mountains camping, hiking, climbing and playing in the water.

Tangi Lancaster / Community Engagement Manager
303.499.3647 x 107
[email protected]

Colorado became Tangi’s (she/her/hers/ella) permanent home in 1996, after living on both coasts in many states. She has also lived, traveled, and studied in Germany and Mexico. Tangi loves to learn about all cultures across the globe and her family has hosted 15 high school exchange students from around the world and 3 international adult visitors. She received her degree in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Denver and has worked within and alongside of the local Latine community for many years. Laying in the grass in the afternoons, during light, Colorado Summer rains, was a favorite childhood past-time and now she enjoys adventuring into the mountains with her husband and their sons. Tangi joined Thorne in February 2023 as part of the Community Impact Team with Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza.

Andy Maeding / Education Programs Mentor
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Anthony “Andy” Maeding (he/him/his) joined the Thorne team in 2016. He has a B.S. in Recreation Resources Management from Colorado State University and a Montessori Lower Elementary Teaching Credential from Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. Andy has extensive experience cultivating nature connection with children of all ages, having led students on extended wilderness expeditions, sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, backcountry skiing, fly fishing and international travel experiences for more than two decades.

Krista Mortensen / Development Director
303.499.3647 x 108
[email protected]

Krista (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in 2024. A self-proclaimed “creek kid”, she is a Colorado native born and raised in Littleton. Krista attended Metropolitan State University of Denver where she completed her BA in Fundraising and Promotional Strategy while supporting the University Advancement team as a Development Assistant and briefly supporting the Alumni Relations and Development team at the University of Chicago. Since then, Krista has worked with several Colorado nonprofits in a professional and volunteer capacity, including Wings Over the Rockies, Invest in Kids, Special Olympics Colorado, and the Colorado Symphony. She has a passion for early childhood education, social-emotional learning, and equity in all things, and loves the ways Thorne’s mission and programs weave these together by connecting kids with nature. Outside of work, Krista enjoys live music, reading, and exploring our beautiful state with her partner.

Ronnie Order / Administrative Director
303.499.3647 x 100
[email protected]

Ronnie (he/him/his) joined Thorne in 2022 as the Administrative Director. He spent many years in environmental education, and comes to us most recently from Denver Zoo, where he helped to run their extensive camp program for six years. Ronnie has a background working at several museums, and has also been an elementary school reading interventionist. He double-majored in Geology (focused on Paleontology) and Biopsychology (focused on brain evolution) as an undergrad, and has a Master’s degree in Teaching in the Biological Sciences (focused on Inquiry Education). His lifelong goal is to educate the public about the wonders of science. Ronnie enjoys hiking, kayaking, and camping, but also considers himself a true nerd and loves role-playing games, science fiction and fantasy, and tabletop and video games.

Carrie Riesberg / Marketing Manager
303.499.3647 x 110
[email protected]

Carrie Riesberg (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team as a Summer Camp Instructor in 2010 and worked in seasonal camp leadership until she joined Thorne’s year-round team in 2016. Carrie became the Summer Camp Manager in 2018 and ran the camp until 2021 when she shifted into her current role as Thorne’s Marketing Manager. She has a BS in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She also has extensive training and experience in special education and school-based mental health services, including eight years of experience as a behavioral specialist in elementary special education. In her free time, Carrie continues to nurture her connection to nature through shared adventures outdoors with her young daughter and through time spent paddling, hiking, and frolicking in beautiful wild places.

Erin Saunders / Director of Vision
303.499.3647 x 101
[email protected]

Erin (she/her/hers) joined the Thorne team in 2004 and has a B.S. in Zoology and Botany from the University of Washington. Erin has created curricula for many Thorne programs, written grants, and worked exhaustively with teachers, science coordinators, and district administrators as well as parents to ensure quality nature science programming for our community. Erin is a certified Project Wild facilitator and is conversant in Spanish.

Christian Vargas / Director of Community Engagement
303.499.3647 x111
[email protected]

Christian (he/him/his) started working for Thorne in the end of 2022. He had previously volunteered on the board for Thorne and as president of the Promotores for Nature Kids Lafayette, before transitioning into a full-time employee. Christian comes from working over 16 years at Boulder County HHS supporting underserved families, especially the Latinx community. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Christian has always had a connection to the outdoors. He also has a passion for connecting kids to the outdoors. Christian has two sons who have participated in Thorne Nature and Lafayette Nature Kids programs for several years. During his free time Christian enjoys camping, mountain biking, skiing, hiking, paddle boarding and multiple sports with his family and two dogs. In 2001, he moved to Boulder with his wife and graduated from CU Boulder with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with an emphasis in International Trade and a Minor in Business.

Michelle Villagran / Assistant Preschool Teacher
303.499.3647
[email protected]

Michelle Villagran (vee-uh-grahn) (she/her/hers) grew up in Southern California, exploring the deserts, ocean, and mountains throughout the year. She graduated from the University of Redlands with a BS in Environmental Science, was a trip leader for the college’s Outdoor Programs, and was a Co-President of Jane Goodall’s nationwide environmental education program, Roots and Shoots. She spent the next six years teaching outdoor environmental education, first in Southern California, then locally in Colorado at Cal-Wood Education Center. Since leaving Cal-Wood full-time (you can still find her doing evening programs occasionally), she has worked in early childhood education, first in a childcare center and then as a private caretaker. She is so excited to be part of the Thorne team and combine her ten years of working with children, with her love of Nature and understanding the importance of growing up outside.

Lorene Wapotich / Senior Manager of Preschool
303.499.3647 x 106
[email protected]

Lorene (she/her/ella) joined the Thorne team in 2021 as our Preschool Manager. She is passionate about guiding children and their families into deeper relationship with nature, greater knowledge of self, and the cultivation of multi-generational community through long-term, nature connection mentoring. She has worked in the field of outdoor experiential education for nearly 30 years, including founding Feet on the Earth Programs, a local nonprofit which for 10 years provided Boulder County families with exceptional nature-based programs for children. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Education from Prescott College, with an emphasis in Wilderness Leadership and Natural History Education, and a Masters of Education from Lesley University, with a concentration in children’s development, nature-based education, and rites of passage. In addition to her extensive training and experience as a nature-based educator and naturalist, Lorene studied and practiced the 8 Shields Cultural Mentoring model, wilderness survival skills, outdoor emergency medicine, is Certified Clinical Herbalist, and is Large Childcare Center Director qualified. 

THE BOARD

Thorne is governed by a Board of Trustees which makes policy level decisions that guide operations to ensure the fulfillment of Thorne’s mission. All of Thorne’s Trustees volunteer their time and contribute their talents in ways that best help Thorne connect youth to nature.

Thorne Board of Trustees

David Brantz / Chair
Kottke & Brantz, LLC - Partner
David Kirk / Vice Chair
Highland Real Estate Consulting
Lauren Koopman / Secretary
Sustainable Finance Consultant
Micah Shagoury / Treasurer
JSR Life Sciences - Senior Manager Strategic Planning
John Ahrens
BOE St Vrain Valley School District - Director of Education
Luis Alvarez
Dolphin View Vacation Rentals - Principal
Amanda Dumenigo
SOSVV, Inc - Executive Director
Leidy Pineda Flores
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks - Bilingual Education & Outreach Senior Representative
Sarah Hauck
Conservation International - Director, Freshwater Health Index
Sarah Irizarry
Harris Freeman - VP of Brands and E-commerce
Juana Mendoza
Longmont Justice Center - Volunteer; Generate Hope Non-Profit Agency
Annika Paradise
Instructor, Front Range Community College; Author
John Ricotta
FirstBank - Executive Vice President
Aidan Smith
Skratch Labs, Amazon Manager
Mary Kathryn Wood
WK Real Estate - Real Estate Agent; former BVSD High School Teacher