Sheena Pate of Columbia Falls, MT, project coordinator for the Crown of the Continent Geotourim Council, works in and around the international transboundary region (Alberta, British Columbia & Montana) introducing the geotourism concept and how it can be a tool to build a sustainable tourism industry without sacrificing community values or identity, in partnership with National Geographic. It is her belief that geotourism can effectively sustain regional businesses, preserve community character and promote conservation.
This Texas born gal grew up and worked in the outdoor recreation industry before making a run for the captivating mountains of Colorado and Montana. Pate’s passion for bringing people together to work toward sustaining and enhancing the character of geographical places led her to earn a degree in watershed science from Colorado State University and a degree in environmental studies from University of Montana. She was drawn to the Crown of the Continent over 16 years ago because of its distinct communities and access to unspoiled landscapes. The last 18 years she has had the pleasure of working as a Program Coordinator, Outreach Consultant, Watershed Scientist, Environmental Technician and Conservation Educator for Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council, Flathead National Forest, Whitefish Legacy Partners, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP/Curecanti NRA, City of Fort Collins- Utilities, Watershed Education Network and watershed restoration consultants.
When she’s not volunteering for local and state non-profits you can often find her with a camera in hand exploring the vast region and capturing family adventures with her fly fishing guide/hunting guide/ski patrol husband, outdoor obsessed toddler and trusty dog Bridger Merle. You can often catch her and crew on @crowngeotourism and @findyourwildcollective Instagram feeds enjoying the region’s “hidden gems”.
Bureau Chief, Industry Services & Outreach
Montana Department of Commerce
Jan Stoddard is the Bureau Chief for the Industry Services and Outreach team located in the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development Division of the Montana Department of Commerce. Her team is responsible for programs and products that assist tourism organizations and communities in developing infrastructure, sustainable strategies, and product development. Specific programs include tourism, events, and destination development grants; administrative management of Montana’s 6 Tourism Regions and 17 Convention and Visitors Bureaus; the Made in Montana program; and other outreach and educational programs.
Regional Recreation Manager
BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
I came to BC from eastern Canada over 25 years ago, and have worked with the Recreation Branch of Ministry of Forests for 14 years (the Branch was moved to and from the Ministry of Tourism for 5 of those years). I was a District Recreation Officer in north-central BC (Smithers) for 8 years, having had the good fortune to be a part of developing several new community mountain biking and backcountry ski projects which have significantly enabled a growing tourism economy up there. I now work out of Cranbrook BC as a regional manager, overseeing recreation land management on provincial lands in the Okanagan, Columbia and Kootenay regions. I have a great interest in the integration of stewardship activities and responsibility amongst governments and community organizations. We work towards authorizing, developing and managing public amenities in collaboration with civil society, industry and governments – leveraging funding, sharing commitment, and enabling community visions.
Rural Development Director
HEART OF THE ROCKIES INITIATIVE
Erin Farris-Olsen is cultivating Heart of the Rockies’ new partnership with USDA Rural Development and works out of Helena, Montana. Erin is an enrolled member of the Brothertown Indian Nation and graduate in Environmental Studies and Communication from Carroll College and Natural Resources Law at the University of Oregon. Erin has worked on numerous community based conservation and social justice initiatives in Liberia, Belize, and Montana. Because she believes strong communities are essential to sustaining conservation, Erin is inspired to employ rural development resources to ensure the resiliency of Montana’s communities for future generations. Through her position at Heart of the Rockies, Erin has leveraged state and federal resources to deliver on the ground recreation and other community based development projects. Erin will look forward to sharing her advice and observations with those looking to piece their community projects together.
Bill Berg is a Park County Commissioner living in Gardiner, Montana. He migrated to Montana from Minnesota in the early 70’s for a summer job in Yellowstone Park. His previous work includes building a successful business on the internet at www.CoolWorks.com, working as the Director of Business Operations for Yellowstone Park Service Stations, and numerous seasonal jobs in Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Alaska that included work as a Winterkeeper, Backcountry Ranger, and Mountaineering Instructor. Bill has also served on numerous volunteer boards at the local, regional, and national levels over the years.
Jikke has been the Executive Officer for Tourism Fernie since 2010. Jikke has over 25 years of tourism industry experience with a personal and professional interest in seeing tourism in Fernie be recognized as successful, innovative and sustainable.
West Glacier Community Coordinator
Mary T. is a biologist with a love for trees and the natural world. Born in Livingston and raised in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, she has spent a career in the business of growing plants and her free time in community organizing. Currently working in her home ‘town’ of West Glacier to find proactive community-centered ways to common ground for solutions to the converging tourism challenges and the need to promote responsible recreation and conservation in Montana’s beautiful places for future generations. This life-long interest in communication, national parks and community sprouted the idea of the West Glacier Vision Plan – a collaborative effort between NPS-RTCA, NPCA, residents, businesses, agencies, and educational stakeholders.