Chris Aaby is a long time resident of Colorado Springs and is an active supporter of environmental sustainability. Chris was born in Norway and spent his summers there hiking and exploring with his brothers while growing up. Chris has been at Catamount Institute for over 5 years. Before joining Catamount Institute Chris was with BuyWell Fair Trade Coffee, where he served as the Director of Marketing and the Sales Manager. Working with a commodity like coffee and closely with farmers who grow the crops inspired his activism for fair trade in addition to cementing his view on environmental sustainability. In 2010, Chris traveled to Peru to meet with coffee and cocoa farmers and had the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive difference fair trade certification makes in the lives of the farmers, their families, and their land. Chris serves on the board of the Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future as well as the steering committee for Leading Edge a program of Leadership Pikes Peak, and regional council for Project Angel Heart. Chris was named a 2017 Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Star, received the Colorado Springs Independent Inclusion Award, and is a 2016 Graduate of the Leadership Pikes Peak Signature program.
In his free time, he enjoys baking cupcakes, hiking, and perfecting his photography skills.
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x106
Tracy Jackson is a bright and enthusiastic scientist and science teacher. She grew up playing in and near the woods, creeks and wild lands of Georgia’s heartland. At age six, she announced to her grandparents that she wanted to be a paleontologist when she grew up. She went on to fulfill that dream, earning her undergraduate degree in geology, from the University of Georgia, where her undergraduate research focused on freshwater ecologies of the present and past.
Tracy fell in love with the Rocky Mountains while working as a backpacking guide at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, a high adventure base for the Boy Scouts of America. After working fulltime as an outdoor educator in Massachusetts for Nature’s Classroom and then in Minnesota for the Audubon Center of the North Woods, Tracy moved to Colorado to earn her masters degree in science education and her teaching license from the Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She and her husband love living in Manitou and enjoy hiking, dancing, good music and caving with friends. If you get the chance to meet Tracy, ask her about working at Catamount, she’ll give you a grin and tell you this is her dream job.Her personal philosophy from an old family saying: “Change lives.”
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x104
Education Program Coordinator/Educator – E3
Beth Austin has lived in Colorado Springs for the past 20 years with her husband and two children. As a native New Yorker, she has a bachelor degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia in Political Science. Her early career she worked for a variety of non-profits in program development and oversight of funding with the United Way.
Beth has experience as a preschool teacher, a volunteer school program teacher with the Starsmore Discovery Center and a manager for Science Matters in America. Through Science Matters she developed a love for giving children the opportunity to explore science through hands-on activities. It was truly wonderful to see the excitement of children when they discover!
As a family they enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, boating, traveling (only 5 more states to go) and camping in the great outdoors. Beth most enjoys walking with her dogs, Ellie & Aspen, through the variety of parks in Colorado Springs with her friends.
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x101
Education Program Coordinator/Educator – Field Trips
Austin’s love for the outdoors grew at a young age while exploring on his family’s farm in Lapeer, Michigan. He earned his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and studied Social Relations and Policy. Throughout his time at MSU, Austin volunteered as a literacy tutor, worked as a Professional River Guide, and led a “Bold West” trip with an organization based out of Golden, Colorado. Since graduating in 2013, Austin has worked as a sixth grade summer school teacher in Chicago, a full time second grade teacher in Detroit, Michigan, and an Ecology Educator on the coast of Maine. Most recently, he helped lead a three week backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail — the section was called the “100 Mile Wilderness”, the longest section of wilderness on the trail located in Northern Maine. Throughout his entire career in education, Austin has stayed dedicated to making learning fun and investing students through place-based education. At any given time, you can find him laughing, working out, chit-chatting, hunting, meeting new people, carving spoons, fishing, eating, questioning, whistling, playing his ukulele, and attempting to sing.
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x103
Education Program Coordinator/Educator – Field Trips
Sam was born and raised in Colorado Springs. While studying Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Whitman College, he had the opportunity to partake in Semester in the West: a traveling, semester-long program studying public lands, natural resource policy, ecology, and place-based writing in the American West. On this program, Sam experienced first-hand the benefits of learning while immersed in a landscape. He began searching for ways to increase access to similar experiences. After he graduated, he worked as a Naturalist for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a Program Assistant for the Quivira Coalition, and a Ranger for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. He could not be more excited to be back in his home town, working with the school systems in which he grew to increase access to environmental education in the outdoors.
When he’s not having a blast with his job, you can find Sam running the trails, throwing a Frisbee, trying to play guitar, or working to fit Lord of the Rings and Star Wars quotes into everyday conversation.
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x103
Drawn to the Pikes Peak Region because of its geographic beauty, Kate migrated to Colorado Springs over two decades ago. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Kate then earned an M.S. in Education, focusing on subjects she felt passionate about. After teaching science for eight years, Kate yearned to teach the Earth Sciences outside of the traditional classroom. She volunteered with Big City Mountaineers, an organization which seeks to change the lives of at-risk youth through wilderness mentoring. In 2014, Kate joined REI, allowing her to fine-tune her outdoor knowledge though attending various clinics and participating in recreating opportunities like cross country, snowshoeing, and back country basics. Kate’s love for the outdoors and desire for conservation and stewardship is a guiding force, motivating her to complete her Wilderness First Responder certification and work with Rocky Mountain Field Institute restoring trails and open spaces. When not working, she enjoys hiking with her dog, backpacking with friends, mountain biking, and skiing in the winter.
Education Program Coordinator/Educator – YES Club
Elizabeth Hudgens has a passion for learning and inquiry-based education. She grew up in Monument, north of Colorado Springs. After receiving her Masters of Arts in Education with a focus on Secondary Education she worked as a school teacher. She started her teaching career in high school then moved into elementary where she worked with 4th and 5th graders. He knowledge of the 4th and 5th grade classroom has helped YES Club thrive over the last year. Elizabeth loves to spend time outdoors with her husband and 3 children.
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x107
Finance & Operations Manager
Cheryl Sims moved to Colorado Springs from Minnesota in 1973 after graduating from Riverside Community College with a degree in Business Management. For more than 30 years, Cheryl has worked in the field of accounting for various local businesses. Her most recent position was with Drexel Heritage where she performed the duties of Office Manager for 10 years. Enjoying involvement in the community, she has also served on numerous volunteer committees including the March of Dimes and Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure.
Cheryl joined Catamount Institute as the Finance & Operations Manager bringing a heightened level of expertise working with rapidly growing businesses. At Catamount Institute she created an efficient financial management process, monitors reports and maintains membership and renewal systems for Catamount’s Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network.
Cheryl is a dedicated wife, mother and grandmother and when she’s not crunching numbers at Catamount or winning the lottery, you will find her chasing after her two adorable grandsons.
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x108