Volunteer Leaders

All Wilderness Volunteers’ Leaders are experienced volunteers who generously give their time to plan and lead projects. They are the heart of Wilderness Volunteers! If you have joined us one or more projects and are interested in becoming a volunteer leader, please contact us!


Carter Bland

Carter and his wife, Robin, are recent transplants to the Western Slope of Colorado after living and working for many years in New York City and the Hudson Valley. They have been involved with WV since 2004, and volunteer time for numerous other organizations including Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, the NY-NJ Trail Conference and the Appalachian Mountain Club. They are experienced kayaking instructors and enjoy all aspects of skiing, hiking, biking and paddlesport.

Sue Blish

Sue grew up on a family farm in northwestern Minnesota and developed a love of the natural world at an early age while freely roaming those 240 acres with her sister and two brothers. A retired civil servant, she’s happy to be paid not to come to work and is even happier spending time outdoors fishing, biking, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and doing trail work. Likes include walks on the beach, campfires, and wielding a pick mattock.

Steve Breitbach

Steve is a Midwest transplant living in Sandy, Utah. He loves being outdoors in the intermountain west. For the last several years Steve has spent winters skiing and doing taxes through H&R Block. He spends spring, summer and fall doing cross country road trips, Wilderness Volunteer trips, camping and kayaking mountain lakes in Utah.

Michele Burkett

Michele grew up in the west and is naturally eager to hike and work outdoors.  Preferring wilderness areas because “they tend to be quieter and wilder than other places”, Michele can have fun just about anywhere in the backcountry.  She has volunteered in five western states and has had a great time working on different projects with different tools and challenges.  Michele states, “one thing I know for sure is I am happiest outside and have never been disappointed while on a volunteer trip.  It is incredible how much our group efforts can accomplish and the need has never been greater for our public lands.” 

Lee Cooper

Lee has been leading WV trips in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, and Utah since 2006. He loves being in the wilderness as evidenced by the fact that he spends 6-7 weeks a year sleeping on his Therm A Rest. When home in Tucson, Arizona, he spends most weekends monitoring the backcountry and trails of Saguaro National Park East as a volunteer. Lee has always come away from WV trips amazed at the wonderful people he meets and how much work they accomplish.

Stephen Dorsett

Stephen lives in Louisville, KY. He was originally involved in Boy Scouts and continued his love of the outdoors through his adult life. He enjoys hiking, canoeing, downhill and back country skiing. Trips include Utah, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and the Eastern States. His first Wilderness Volunteers trip was to the Colorado National Monument and he volunteered to lead trips shortly thereafter.

Tom Driscoll

Tom has bicycled across the US five times and backpacked in the Sierras since the early ’90s. Both activities refresh the soul with joy and sense of freedom. He satisfies the primal urge to dig in the ground, doing Wilderness Volunteers trips since 2001.

Bill Goolsby

I discovered WV through an ad in Backpacker Magazine and my first trip was to Caladesi Island, Florida, in 2005. Since then I have participated in 18 trips and led one. My wife Maggie has been on four trips with me as well, including twice at Chaco Canyon, NM. My leader training trip was in the Pecos Wilderness, NM, in the spring of 2016. My first trip as leader was that fall at Grand Staircase/Escalante, removing Russian Olive. I live in Atlanta but love going out west where the landscape is open and so different from the tree cover of Georgia. WV is a great way to see the US and appreciate its vastness and variety. I have a BMW motorcycle and ride it to WV trips whenever I can, thus combining my loves of motorcycle touring and being outside.

Max Gordon

Max is a Seattle-area native who loves to hike as well as maintain trails. He studied history and later public administration at the University of Washington. He got his start with trails work with AmeriCorps stints with groups like the Student Conservation Association. He has stayed involved as much as possible with various volunteer organizations such as Washington Trails Association and the Pacific Crest Trail Association. He first learned about Wilderness Volunteers while looking up opportunities to participate in environmental restoration in the Elwha River valley in Olympic National Park. Max’s first WV trip was in 2015 and he took the leader training in 2017. This organization has allowed him to see many different parts of this beautiful country and meet the passionate locals who keep them open to the public. He has lived in Olympia since 2014 where he works for a state environmental agency.

Bill and Sue Koenig

Bill and Sue are from the Chicagoland area. They are active in hiking, biking, running, swimming, and canoeing. They have lead WV trips to Arizona, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Maine and Wyoming. Sue had also volunteered on WV trips to Washington and California. Sue and Bill have also participated in service trips with other volunteer organizations including helping out in New Orleans, Cedar Rapids, and Nashville after those areas were heavily flooded.

Misha Kokotovic

Misha is hopelessly addicted to the red rock canyons of the Colorado Plateau, where he once worked as a park ranger. Though he has also been known to scramble up the occasional peak in the Sierras and the Southern Rockies, he requires regular fixes of Navajo sandstone. He currently supports his habit by teaching at the University of California, San Diego.

Jerry Lehman

Jerry has always had a love for the outdoors. He has been a runner, cross country skier, and bicyclist his entire adult life. He rediscovered his love for backpacking, after a 30 year hiatus, by participating in Wilderness Volunteer trips. He has been volunteering since 2003. You can recognize him on a backpacking trip by his 40 year old Kelty frame pack which he refuses to retire. In 2014 he retired from his job as an Accounting Instructor which has allowed him to pursue another old love – bicycle touring. In 2015 he biked 1,200 miles to attend his high school class reunion and this summer he completed a 4,800 mile cross country trip from Seattle to Boston. His retirement has also allowed him to participate in more WV trips and to increase his contributions by becoming a leader. Jerry grew up in the mountains of South-Western Pennsylvania and has lived in Seattle and Colorado. He and his wife now enjoy living in Madison, WI; but he takes every opportunity to spend time in the mountains of the Western and Eastern U.S.

Mark Lewis

Mark’s love for the outdoors started at an early age fishing with his dad. It blossomed in college when he fought fires for the Forest Service as a smoke jumper. He has have traveled and hiked extensively throughout the world with his latest adventure taking him to Afghanistan for a couple of weeks. Mark also enjoys whitewater rafting and had rowed the Colorado River four times in the last five years. Anytime Mark can get outside and give back to the trails that have he feels have given so much to him, he doesn’t pass on the opportunity.

Dennis McKane

Dennis has lived in Southern NJ all of his life. He started doing trips with Wilderness Volunteers in 2008, enjoys all types of trail work, and has been on trips from Maine to Alaska. Dennis also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and 3 months during the winter at YMCA OF THE ROCKIES, SNOW MOUNTAIN RANCH in Granby, Colorado. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, paddling, biking, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Gerald “Jerry” Norton

Gerry learned about WV from an ad in the back of Backpacker magazine; he loved the idea of giving back and finding new areas to see and discover. Originally from Upstate New York, he has always had a passion for exploring the outdoors, camping, backpacking, and fishing the Adirondack Mountains. Transplanted to Nevada via the Air Force (now retired), he has learned to love the West and all that it has to offer. He started volunteering for trips in 2014 and co-led his first trip in 2017.

Dave Pacheco

Dave has led WV trips since 1998 and has worked for over 20 years as a grassroots environmental organizer. Dave enjoys meeting new people with interests in volunteering, exploring new wild places, fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing. He proudly gives something back at his day job with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and thoroughly enjoys meeting new people on projects with similar interests.

Amy Qian

Amy Qian found WV in 2017 after searching online for a way to spend time outdoors while volunteering. As a mechanical engineer and avid woodworker, she delights in trips that involve building stuff and sawing through fallen trees.

Chris Roberts

As an elementary school teacher, Chris led his students in dozens of outdoor adventures and on his own time loves hiking, climbing, rafting, and biking with his family and friends. One of his greatest compliments came from one of his students who said, “Mr. Roberts, you’re kind of a nature nut aren’t you.”

Rick Russman

Rick has hiked, biked or kayaked in every area of the United States and when not playing in the White Mountains of NH, leads trips in the southwest and Rocky Mountains. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

Ruth Sarvis

Ruth works as an insurance agent weekdays and spends weekends exploring Western Washington with her family. She is an avid hiker in the Cascades and is encouraging her daughter and nieces to explore the outdoors year round.

Chris Stearns

A veterinarian for over 30 years, Chris has a love for the outdoors and nature that dates back to early childhood. He has made self-supported rafting trips on several different rivers in Alaska and enjoys hiking and camping in the West. His professional background and interests have facilitated participation in cheetah habitat research in Namibia, dog vaccine and spay clinics in Botswana, and herd health clinics with UT veterinary students in Nicaragua. He truly enjoys the different environments found throughout the West and meeting new friends through Wilderness Volunteers activities. He lives in Dalton, Georgia with his amazing wife, Kathryn West and pets Chester and Lily.

Aidalicia Swertfeger

The Sierras have always captivated Aidalicia’s heart. Having grown up in a tiny foothills town west of Lake Tahoe, Aidalicia spent her winters snowboarding and her summers exploring “Big Blue”. Carrying a BFA in Communication Design with a focus on sustainability from Texas State University, she served as a Graphic Design intern for NOLS in 2017-2018. After her first WV project in 2013, Aidalicia became a project leader in 2014, WV’s Program Manager in 2018, WV’s Program Director in 2022, and has led over 25+ projects in 15 states. During her downtime, Aidalicia enjoys hearing the nuances of storytelling through stand-up comedy, planning for her next adventure or “workcation” with her partner, spending time with family and friends, and/or appreciating the magic an ever-changing horizon can bring.

John Washo

John has been involved with Wilderness Volunteers since 2010. He is the Associate Director of Campus Recreation Programs at DePaul University and leads Alternative Spring Break Wilderness Volunteer trips. John referees intramural basketball, backpacks, hikes and climbs in his spare time.

Caroline Williams

Red rocks, mountains, wilderness, hiking, biking, skiing, camping, running, unplugging, staring at the night sky in search of aliens (or shooting stars), traveling the world, cruising in my Westy, having fun and generally enjoying life … these are a few of my favorite things. I glimpsed a WV ad in the back of Backpacker Magazine in 2008 and was hooked on giving back with WV every year since. I’m counting the days until retirement (still too many years away) when I can kick back, relax and volunteer more than just one week a year. When I’m not on the road, I’m living in Colorado Springs with my husband and cat.

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is an almost lifelong resident of Virginia whose love of the outdoors was discovered while working at a summer camp in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains beneath the shadow of Old Rag.  After a long hiatus spent working and raising a family, Matt rekindled his love for the outdoors on a camping trip to the desert southwest in 2011, followed up with his first WV trip to the San Rafael Swell.  When not working as a software engineer or walking his dogs, Matt is an avid cyclist, posting over 5000 miles annually.  Among his favorite rides have been a self-supported bikepacking trip the length of the C&O Canal and riding the Moab Century.  Matt thoroughly enjoys camp food and has been known to break out in song around the campfire or along the trail.

Bill Wood

Bill is a Wyoming native who grew up camping in and exploring the Rockies. Later, Bill, his wife, two children, and (later still) two granddaughters continued their outdoor adventures—trail running, mountain biking, backpacking, motorcycling and camping. Bill recently retired from a career in aerospace and is enjoying the opportunity to give back to Mother Nature, including his participation with WV.

Jeff Wright

A native of the hinterlands of Missouri whose wanderlust has taken him to all 50 states, but prefers those which constitute the four corners of the American Southwest. Former Peace Corps volunteer, frustrated triathlete, and amateur naturalist who owns far too many field guides. Believes proper stewardship of Spaceship Earth far outweighs in importance any other issue currently on the political agenda.

Kathleen Worley

Kathleen grew up in Reno, Nevada, which perhaps explains her love of the high desert as well as the granite spires and crystal clear lakes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. She has done WV trips in Nevada, Utah, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. When not outdoors, she is either onstage or teaching theatre at Reed College in Portland, OR.

Tony Zimmer

Tony has lived his entire life in Illinois and Ohio before moving to Salt Lake City in 2006. Since then Tony has been able to develop his love of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, skiing, boating and backpacking. Tony leads projects with Wilderness Volunteers because it gives him the opportunity to see places that he had never heard of, to meet great people who enjoying working and playing outdoors and to give back to the natural world that makes it all possible.

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Wilderness Volunteers is cultivating a passion for Wilderness! We are a national nonprofit organizing volunteers for stewardship projects in cooperation with public land agencies across the USA.