Jonathan Pilarski, Executive Director

Jon Bio picJon Pilarski joins Mountain Park Environmental Center with more than 11 years of experience working for non-profit organizations.  An Indiana native with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Indiana University, Jon has dedicated his career to conservation and education.  As manager of the primate department at the Indianapolis Zoo, Jon’s passion for the natural world inspired zoo visitors and donors to become involved and invested in conservation efforts around the world.  He brings that same enthusiasm to MPEC where he hopes to inspire the Pueblo and Beulah communities to become invested in nature and science education and encourage their friends and families to spend time outdoors.  Jon and his wife, Laura, are avid hikers and backpackers, and they can usually be found spending their free time exploring Colorado’s wild places.

Contact : jon@hikeandlearn.org

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Dave Van Manen, Founder/Special Projects Coordinator

Dave Van ManenDave Van Manen is the founder of the Mountain Park Environmental Center, which he began in 1998. He currently serves at MPEC’s Resident Naturalist along with coordinating special projects.  Dave’s love of Nature education has led him to his work at MPEC including program development, fundraising, grant writing, and public speaking. Ranger Dave has been working in the field of education, with both children and adults, for nearly forty years. His background includes being a nationally known children’s musician, performer, and recording artist with a specialty in environmental music and storytelling. He is the author of Plants of Pueblo Mountain Park, a field guide to the flora of the park and surrounding areas. Dave is a recipient of the Enos Mills Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. Dave has been a resident of the town of Beulah for 35+ years, where he and his wife Helene raised their two children and now spend much time with their grandchildren.  He is an avid hiker and can often be found hiking the trails of Pueblo Mountain Park and beyond.

Contact: mpec@hikeandlearn.org

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Taylor Driver, Program Director 

14242346_10157430569010506_96653710147281964_oA Colorado native who grew up in Cairo, Egypt, Taylor found her way back to Colorado for University. After a transformative summer working as a counselor at a backpacking based summer camp, she confirmed that her passion was connecting with people in the outdoors. She holds a B.S. in Outdoor Leadership from CSU-Pueblo and has logged over 200 days leading youth in the backcountry. As a firm believer in the value of outdoor-based, experiential education, she delights in being a part of the MPEC team in providing high-quality programs for children and adults to step outside and learn about the wonders of our natural world. In her spare time, you can usually find Taylor hiking around the Mountain Park with her dog Sequoia or planning her next international adventure.

Contact:  taylor@hikeandlearn.org

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Travis Wieser, Maintenance Supervisor

Bio & photo coming soon!

Contact:  travis@hikeandlearn.org

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Steve Juergenson, Park Maintenance Technician

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Stephen spent much of his childhood living in a variety of places including Washington, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Oregon, and eventually settling in Pueblo West, Colorado.  Stephen first connected with nature as a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Eagle Scout.  Stephen’s fascination with the outdoors only increased as he enrolled in the Outdoor Leadership/Recreation Program at Colorado State University-Pueblo, graduating in 2012.  He has worked as a Park Ranger with Colorado  Parks & Wildlife at four  Colorado State Parks.  After spending a few winters in Steamboat Springs and accumulating as many powder days as possible, Stephen came to work at MPEC and is currently furthering his interests in natural resource management, parks operations, and forest stewardship.  Stephen enjoys leading on-trail service projects and keeping the park safe and enjoyable for all who wish to connect with nature.  When Stephen is not in the park, he can often be seen at the Pueblo City Park disc golf course, as he someday hopes to par the course.

Contact:  steve@hikeandlearn.org

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Henry Pounds, Park Caretaker

Photo coming soon.

Originally from Maryland, Henry has lived and worked in the mountains of Southern Colorado for over 30 years. He studied art education at CSU-Pueblo. His love of the outdoors stems from his youth, spending time in the fields and forests, learning the skills of hunting and fishing from his father. Henry enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing and mushroom hunting. He can often be found walking his black lab, Cuan, in the park.

 

Contact:  caretaker@hikeandlearn.org

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Lynette Gerow, Office Manager

Lynette.jpg.2Lynette is a native Texan and moved to Colorado In 2014 to be close to her grandchildren. She discovered the park while attending one of the Zuke’s Dog Hikes and fell in love with it. Being an avid gardener and lover of nature, Lynette feels right at home working for MPEC. Lynette brings over 30 years of accounting experience  to her position. You can find her in the office at the Horseshoe Lodge, or you may bump into her along one of the many hiking trails with her husband and one of her five poodles. Regardless, she will always greet you with a warm welcome and a big Texas smile.

Contact:  office@hikeandlearn.org

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Lori Youngren, Kitchen and Housekeeping Manager

Lori Youngren Staff Mountain Park Environmental CenterLori Youngren is a Pueblo,Colorado native and has been a Beulah resident for 18 years. Lori’s creative interests include sewing and quilting and her formal education included a degree in business administration. Taking time from her career to mother her four children full time, Lori now brings her high work ethic to MPEC. She and her husband Jay, live on a Beulah family ranch and together they enjoy hunting, fishing and camping.

Contact: loriyoungren@hikeandlearn.org

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Tom Barr, Lodge Sales Manager

Tom has always had a deep appreciation for nature and the outdoors, even as a little kid growing up in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. As a kid, he was often found wandering alone in the desert, developing an appreciation for the flora and fauna. He later developed an appreciation for the mountains, where we spends time hiking, camping and exploring ghost towns. After living in Arizona for most of his life, he moved to Colorado in 2008 to be close to family. He enjoys exploring Colorado’s backcountry and ghost towns, and goes camping as much as possible. He also loves giving tours of the park and Horseshoe Lodge and showing everyone what makes MPEC such a special place.

Photo coming soon!

Contact: guestrelations@hikeandlearn.org

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Sandy Christensen, Environmental Educator

Rgr Sandy and Sienna2A veteran Physical Education and Health Educator of young children through seniors,  Sandy brings her extensive world traveling experience to all that she does at MPEC.  “Ranger Sandy” is also a part of the Earth Studies team where she teaches 5th Graders and additionally leads the ”Zukes” Dog Hikes. Sandy’s great love for Nature (and her knowledge of our bioregion) contributes to her leading style and we are sure you’ll enjoy any program where she is the lead!

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Elaine Lopez Pacheco, LCSW, ACSW, LMT, Senior Consultant

Mountain Park Environmental CenterElaine is a licensed clinical Social Worker and  massage therapist. Elaine was a founding MPEC Board member, visioning the future for MPEC. Committed to non-violence, Sr. Elaine works part-time as a clinical director/consultant for a non-profit agency, Project STEP, in CO Springs. Elaine is also an associate member with Pueblo’s Veterans for Peace. Elaine is a Colorado and Pueblo native and enjoys the earth energy of her bio-region and believes that our connection to the earth facilitates balance of mind/body and spirit. Sr. Elaine is one of twenty women healers in the southwest featured in Carol Kronwitter’s book, Women of Grace.

 

A team is more than a collection of people. It is a process of give and take. ~ Barbara Glace