Meet our Team

Our passion is connecting youth and their families with the outdoors.

We’re a team of diverse outdoor enthusiasts thrilled to nurture the love of nature on the Western Slope of Colorado.  If you are interested in joining our team, visit our Job Openings page to learn about seasonal positions. We offer dozens of internships to local high school students. To apply to our internships visit our Pathways page.

The Nature Connection Crew

Priscilla Williams

Director of Operations

priscilla.williams@deltaschools.com

Priscilla has been involved with The Nature Connection since its inception. As Director of Operations, she has committed herself to fulfilling the Generation Wild GOCO Grant in all of its dimensions. Over the past three years she has designed many new outdoor programs, engaged in county-wide project management and developed community partnerships for the organization. She spent multiple winters as a Forest Service Educator and Snow Ranger with the Skis for Kids Program prior to becoming The Nature Connection’s Program Director in 2018. Priscilla initially pursued the art of teaching outdoor education while completing her B.S. in Environmental Communication from Colorado State University, instructing youth at CSU’s Environmental Learning Center and Pingree mountain campus. She gained much of her outdoor skill set and values growing up in Palisade, Colorado as well as her years spent with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger and mule packer, educating public land users across the rural West. Happy to be back home here on the Western Slope, Priscilla works with The Nature Connection’s coalition to engage youth and communities in the endless wonders of the outdoors. When she’s able to hit the field, snow science is one of her favorite topics to teach as well as lead Girls on the Run backpacking trips. In her free time, she is currently motivated to raft the many western rivers, hunt with her husband and pup, cross-country ski and train her baby mule Leroux.

Torreya (Tori) Swift

Director of Kids and Community Programs

torreya.swift@deltaschools.com

Tori graduated from The Evergreen State College 2011 with a BS in Wildlife Biology and Management and since then has been active in the biological sciences and environmental education. She has worked for both private and non-profit organizations, completing projects funded by The BLM, Conservancies, National Parks Service and the US Forest Service. In this work, she has developed a solid understanding of how different organizations can work together to achieve common goals and use education to enrich community and the quality of life for individuals. Tori has lived and worked in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, Mexico and Malaysia. She has called The North Fork Valley her home six years. An avid adventurer, she can be found spending her spare time with her husband, daughter and pup, looking for birds in the mountains or rafting one of the West’s stunning rivers. As the Director of Kids and Community Programs for The Nature Connection team, Tori is overjoyed to be creating recreational opportunities for Delta County’s youth and connecting her community to the outdoors.

Ben Graves

Director of Strategic Partnerships

bgraves@deltaschools.com

Ben Graves comes to The Nature Connection after teaching high school in Western Colorado for close to a decade. Before that, he was active in environmental education in the SF Bay Area. His undergraduate (BS) and graduate (MS) studies were in the Earth Systems Science Program at Stanford University where he felt drawn to teaching after volunteering as a docent and ranger at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. As a science teacher, he strives to “make visible the invisible parts of the world” through student-driven inquiry and experimentation. His students collect data on air quality, monitor the local bark beetle epidemic and develop authentic skills in the renewable energy field. Students in his Solar Energy Training Program have installed close to 50 kW of solar in Delta County Schools. He is a Senior Fellow with the Knowles Teachers Initiative (knowlesteachers.org), a national teacher leadership program for science and math teachers and recently traveled to the Arctic as part of a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. He lives with his wife and two rambunctious daughters in Paonia, CO. where they can often be found hiking in desert canyons, rafting wilderness rivers or cross country skiing on the largest flat-topped mountain in the world.

Anna Robinson

eeCorps Generation Wild Outdoor Educator

anna.robinson@deltaschools.com

Anna is currently serving with AmeriCorps as a Generation Wild Outdoor Educator for The Nature Connection. Growing up in Lander Wyoming, Anna fostered a love for the mountains and a variety of different outdoor activities including hiking, biking, skiing, and snowboarding.

Anna graduated in the summer of 2020 with a BS in Environmental System Science and a minor in soil science from the University of Wyoming. While attending school, Anna spent summers participating in different research projects such as archaeological field school and ICCE (Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition) where she learned more about soil science, glaciology, and the study of past human history.

Last spring, she participated in a NOLS course in the Pacific Northwest that included a month of sea kayaking off the coast of Vancouver Island and a month of mountaineering in the Northern Cascades of Washington. Most recently, she served as a crew member for the Wyoming Conservation Corps where she learned the value of conservation. Since then, she continues to look closely at the ground while on hikes in hopes of finding cultural artifacts and in appreciation of all the types of soil she encounters.

Anna is excited to be joining The Nature Connection so she can work with kids and families in the area to get out and explore their backyard!

While serving with The Nature Connection, Anna is living in Paonia and can be found biking around town on a quest to find ice cream. (If anyone is asking, her favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is Half Baked).

eeCorps AmeriCorps Program

2020-2021

Led by the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE), the Environmental Education Corps (eeCorps) AmeriCorps Program places AmeriCorps members at organizations throughout Colorado to focus on increasing environmental literacy for PreK-12 students and implementing the goals outlined in the Colorado Environmental Education Plan. eeCorps works directly with teachers, schools, and EE providers to support them in expanding reach and increasing impact of EE programming, while providing access to equitable learning experiences for all PreK-12 students. eeCorps members provide direct service to improve outcomes in Environmental Stewardship and Education. AmeriCorps is a part of the Corporation for National & Community Service, often referred to as the “domestic Peace Corps.” AmeriCorps provides opportunities to improve lives and foster civic engagement all across the country.

Andrew Wayrynen

eeCorps Generation Wild Outdoor Educator

andrew.wayrynen@deltaschools.com

In his year-long AmeriCorps service term as a Generation Wild Outdoor Educator, Andrew is primarily focused on implementing the “Learn to Bike” program for K-3rd graders. More broadly, he acts as the “boots on the ground” for The Nature Connection across Delta County, assisting in a number of outdoor education programs.

Over the course of his life, Andrew has been increasingly empowered by a deep love of nature and responsible outdoor recreation. Now he seeks to share his personal awakening with the kids and families of Delta County and Olathe.

Andrew graduated from The College of Wooster in 2017 with a dual-degree in English and Earth Science. In his time at Wooster, he completed a senior independent study investigating human-earth dynamics in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. He remains fascinated by the study of dendrochronology (tree rings!) to reconstruct glacial movement, human history, and climate variation. In 2016, he presented at The Geologic Society of America conference in Denver, CO, on John Muir’s 19th century scientific observations Alaska and California. Since graduating, Andrew has worked as an editor and publisher for Opportunity Education Tanzania, cooperating with educators overseas to create an emerging student-based curriculum for high school education.

Outside of his career, Andrew has an affection for travel, sports, and extended stays in the woods. In the fall of 2019, he completed a five-month thru-hike of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, backpacking from Mexico to Canada. In fact, at this very moment, chances are that he is dreaming of the long, dusty trail.

Love the work we’re doing? Looking to help? Volunteer for the Nature Connection.