As a fifth-generation Montanan and outdoor enthusiast, Mary has long been connected to the lands and waters of Big Sky Country. She holds University of Montana degrees in business finance and economics. She began her career in the U.S. Senate and later for a housing organization in Washington, D.C. Upon her return to Montana, Mary ran a fishing lodge in the Blackfoot Valley. Inspired to further conservation efforts, Mary then went to work for The Nature Conservancy during their acquisitions of Plum Creek Timber land in western Montana. For nearly 10 years she managed land deals and served as the Government Affairs Director for TNC in Montana. Mary joined the PPLT staff in 2015 as executive director. Connecting people with conservation values and the outdoors in our urban communities is a key goal for Prickly Pear Land Trust and a personal interest for Mary.
After a childhood spent roaming the outdoors of western New York State, Andrea earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and then completed a master’s of environmental management degree in resource ecology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. After three years at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, two summers with The Nature Conservancy of Montana in the Big Hole, a year in Seattle with the King County Noxious Weed Control Program, and three years with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Andrea joined PPLT in February 2008. She loves working in private land conservation, and finding ways to connect people with the natural world around them. In her spare time, she enjoys running, skiing, horseback riding, and fly fishing with her husband, Joel.
Nate came on board as a PPLT trail intern in April of 2015 and now serves as the project manager for PPLT’s Peaks to Creeks campaign. He hails from a small town in western New York and studied geography and environmental studies at the State University of New York at Geneseo. The wild places called him west after graduating, and he spent some time working in Yosemite National Park where his passion for all things outdoors was fully realized. After doing trail and conservation work across California, from Big Sur to the Sierra Nevadas, and in the green mountains of Vermont to the coastal jungles of North Carolina, he found his way to Montana. When he’s not hanging out at PPLT’s Tenmile Creek Park you’ll find him with his wife Julia, and their dog Mooka out on the trails, in the woods camping, or out on the disc golf course.
Hailing from the hills of the North Valley, Lanie has been a part of the greater Helena community since childhood and is excited to be doing work to promote and protect open space in the area that is most near and dear to her heart. She became interested in open space conservation during her adolescence as she watched the once beautiful and elk-filled farmland below her childhood home developed and subdivided. Lanie moved to Portland, OR in 2008 and furthered her passion for outdoor recreation and conservation when she began teaching, guiding, and coordinating the climbing gym for the Outdoor Program at Portland State University while attending classes to earn her B.A. in Spanish. After five years of city life, she decided that a more natural setting, more specifically Montana, was the superior place to reside and moved back to her hometown, later to be hired by Prickly Pear Land Trust. She is thrilled to be a part of such a hard-working and dedicated staff, board and community!
Originally from eastern South Dakota, Evan moved to Montana in 2010 after receiving a degree in accounting from Augustana University and working as a public accountant for two years. In Montana, Evan ignited his passion for the outdoors and trails first with Montana Conservation Corps and later with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and U.S. Forest Service. Evan extends his love for connecting people to their landscape in his role as trails coordinator. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, climbing mountains and travelling with his wife, Krystle, and cat, Tofu.
Travis joined the PPLT crew as a project associate in late 2017. Having spent an adventurous childhood backpacking, swimming and exploring in the Flathead and Swan Valleys, he is thrilled to be back in Big Sky Country. Travis’ long road to Helena began with degrees in Russian and economics from the University of Montana. He later traveled to Russia, California, Italy, D.C. and Namibia to work and study, camping along the way. With a wildlife and open-space career in mind, Travis earned a policy and economics master’s degree with a concentration in environmental affairs from Johns Hopkins in early 2017. In his free time, he is camping, running the trails or, depending on the season, in the water.
Breena has always been drawn to the mountains. After her childhood in Amarillo, Texas and degree in Fine Arts from the University of North Texas, she followed her inspiration from the flatlands of the panhandle to the Rocky Mountain West. A ceramic artist by trade, she found work in studios in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado before heading north to work in a pottery studio in Montana. Around the time she was scheduled to depart Montana, she spent a weekend fishing the Blackfoot, then quickly unpacked her car and called Helena “home”. Breena managed the Archie Bray Gallery here in Helena before making the move to Prickly Pear as our Membership and Outreach Coordinator. The role is a perfect fit for the young artist as it combines community engagement and opportunity for creative work. Breena still practices wheel thrown and hand-built porcelain work in her downtown studio when she isn’t hiking, fly fishing, floating or facing her fear of speeding downhill on her mountain bike and set of skis.
Emmett was born and raised in Helena. He attended Montana State University, where he was on the alpine ski race team and eventually became an assistant ski coach. He continued ski coaching with the Great Divide Ski Team, leading to a career spanning various roles in the ski, bike and trail worlds. He has been moving dirt and exploring and building trails since his high school years, when mountain biking was in its infancy. He and his friends explored old routes that had not seen much travel over the years and cleaned them up. Emmett says: “I feel very fortunate to live in a great trails community and to be able to cobble together a life that includes bikes, skis, trails and yoga.”
Sue knows what Montana Communities are all about. A non-profit jack-of-all-trades, she has worked in as many different positions as groups of people she has supported and advocated for. At St. Peter’s Hospital, Sue spent 13 years in three roles – HR Generalist, Director of Admissions/Registration, and graphic artist. Her ability to connect with folks and her experience in care brought Sue to work in residential facilities for youth in crisis, and later the Montana Independent Living Project as an advocate for people with disabilities. Before making the move to head PPLT’s office, Sue completed her seventh year at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church where she managed finance, administration, and adult education. Born and raised in Great Falls, Sue graduated from Colstrip High School. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Services from what she lovingly refers to as Eastern Montana College (now MSU-Billings). Sue packs her free time working with mixed media and fiber art, hiking, and golf, and she hasn’t missed a Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs in years. She is surrounded by friends and family and her wheaten terrier, Junee.
Lukas lives on the trails. Rain or shine, he is working away – patching, leveling, fixin’ signs, leading our eager volunteer crews in order to ensure our trails remain world-class. The North Carolina native got the itch for trail construction years ago when backpacking a section of the Appalachian Trail with his father. The two came across a large, Southern Appalachian Work Services (SAWS) trail building operation. Lukas remembers thinking to himself, “Wow! Somebody really builds these. It takes a special kinda person to dig out in the middle of nowhere.” After two trail seasons with the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC), first in the Flathead and then here in Helena, Lukas has become just that kind of person and we’re all the better for it. Lukas sees working with PPLT as an opportunity to do meaningful work while also rooting himself in the community. He continues to backpack, snowboards in winter, and is PPLT’s only avid skateboarder.