Meet our Team

Our passion is connecting youth with the outdoors.

We’re a team of diverse outdoor enthusiasts thrilled to nurture the love of nature on the Western Slope of Colorado.

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 TNC’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 TNC’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

Development Director

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.

Holly Henriksen

2019 Generation Wild Ski Lead

Holly is thrilled to be joining The Nature Connection as the Skis For Kids Program Lead. Born and raised in the snowy flatlands of Wisconsin, she has been enjoying nordic skiing since she was a toddler, among other outdoor pursuits. Holly graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Wildlife Ecology and has spent the years since traveling and working within the broad field of natural resources. She has led wilderness trips and youth conservation crews, served as an agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, lived and worked on regenerative farms in Central America, and spent multiple seasons working for the Forest Service in the wilderness of Colorado. Holly is looking forward to engaging students in the lifetime sport of nordic skiing and teaching them about winter ecology on the incredible Grand Mesa!

Kaeli Baugh

2019/20 Delta Program Coordinator

Kaeli is currently a full-time student at Colorado Mesa University finishing her last year to attain a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education. Along with being TNC’s Delta Program Coordinator, Kaeli has worked throughout the Delta County School District and Little Maverick Learning Center filling positions from a substitute, speech paraprofessional, and aide.
Kaeli lived in Denver before moving to Delta County 12 years ago and loves to support the community and youth of Delta and the surrounding areas.

In her spare time, she likes to hike, read, and go to concerts.
Kaeli is passionate about giving Delta County and surrounding communities youth the opportunity to experience and explore the outdoors in new and safe ways.

Calvin Reese

2020 Hotchkiss Summer Assist

I have been with The Nature Connection for 3 years now they have enabled me to do some pretty incredible things. I found them by volunteering for them to educate youth in the area about stewardship in the environment, and now I am working for them as a Generation Wild summer camp lead to help go to college. I am now a sophomore in college looking forward to my future in engineering and with a passion for the outdoors.

Elsie Vazquez

2019/20 Hotchkiss Summer Lead

Hi, I’m Elsie I am the summer camp lead at the Hotchkiss hub! I recently graduated from Hotchkiss high school and plan on pursuing a career in elementary education at the University of Northern Colorado. The nature connection has provide me with a perfect opportunity to teach the youth of delta county all the while utilizing our amazing Colorado backyard! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my summer!

Sam Gibb

2019/20 Bike Tech & Coach

Hey everyone! My name is Sam Gibb, I am 18 years old and I have been born and raised in Paonia, Colorado. I just graduated High School and I am planning on attending the University of British Columbia after I take a gap year. I have been mountain biking since I was five years old and I currently race in both enduro and downhill classes. I love Delta county because I am able to do the things I enjoy and I love the Nature Connection because I am able to help kids experience these things.

Lottie, Emma, and Sienna

2020 Hotchkiss Summer Interns

Lottie, Emma, and Sienna have been key players in our programming at Hotchkiss this summer. Lotties tireless enthusiasm, Emma's playfulness and Sienna's skills with arts and crafts were a huge benefit to the kids! As true mentors to getting outside and enjoying the outdoors TNC hopes to have these three involved in many more programs to come.

Sami Wollert

2020 Delta Summer Assist

Sami is a Delta Summer Camp staff and has lived in Delta since she was six. She is currently attending Texas Christian University to attain her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education. She wanted to work for The Nature Connection because she wanted to learn more about using outdoor spaces as a different resource to connect with students and to teach youth in a non-traditional way. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and boating!

Carson Roithmayr

2020 Bike Coach

My name is Carson Roithmayr, I’m 18 years old. I recently graduated from Delta High School. I love to rock climb, mountain bike, kayak, and surf. I love Delta county because I have easy access to all my favorite sports right here. I love working at The Nature Connection and I’m super stoked to be working as a gear tech/bike coach this summer!

Kara, Riley, Emily

2020 Delta Summer Interns

Emily, Kara, and Riley are Delta High School students with a passion for being outdoors and working with kids! As interns, these girls get to build confidence as leaders, participate and lead outdoor activities for campers, and have the funnest summer job ever!

Emily is a second year intern at the Delta Summer Camp. She is originally from Loveland, but has lived in Delta for the past four years. She wanted to work at The Nature Connection to get outside, be around kids, and be outdoors! In her spare time, Emily likes to go camping, hiking, and floating on the river, and drawing.

Riley was born in California, but moved to Colorado when she was eleven. She wants to pursue a career in the outdoors and loves being outside. She enjoys paddle-boarding, rafting, kayaking and tubing. In her free time, she enjoys talking to friends, hiking, and watching movies.

Kara has lived in Delta for the past six years. She wanted to work at The Nature Connection because she enjoys being outside and gives her a chance to share that passion with the youth in the community. Her favorite thing to do in her spare time is paddle-board, hike, and explore new places!

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