MEET OUR STAFF

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Tanya Henderson, Executive Director

Tanya is excited to be a member of the WSCC team, joining in November 2020. She comes to the North Fork Valley from just outside of Death Valley where she dedicated five years working on behalf of the Amargosa Basin, first as Stewardship Program Manager and most recently as their Executive Director. 

Tanya grew up and has spent most of her life in the rural west from Tuba City, AZ to Shoshone, CA, Cortez, CO to Ridgecrest, CA, Walla Walla, WA to Holbrook, AZ with stints in other places. She is happy to set aside her wandering ways and settle into the North Fork Valley community. It was trailwork that set her on a conservation path and she was later able to merge her commitments to conservation, communities, and passionate individual stewards through collaborative land management initiatives. She solicited community input for watershed restoration efforts in Canyon de Chelly, AZ and helped amplify community voices for legislative protection of desert lands in the northern Mojave Desert. She had always hoped her German Studies degree from Whitman College in 2005 would lead to a career in public lands conservation but went back to school at Northern Arizona University in 2010 for an MS in Environmental Science and Policy just to be sure.

Email Tanya for Conservation Center conversations (or just conservation chat)!

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Jake Hartter, Watershed Coordinator

Jake joined the Conservation Center team in March 2017 and is honored to serve as WSCC’s watershed coordinator.  Jake graduated from Greenville College in 2002 with a B.S. in Environmental Biology.  His early work history focused around developing stormwater wetland basins and riparian corridors for improving domestic water quality.  He has worked with municipalities, agencies, universities, and private landowners to implement watershed scale habitat management practices.  In addition to his work in habitat restoration, Jake has spent nearly 10 years in the geothermal drilling industry, operating heavy equipment and managing small work crews to install energy efficient heating and cooling systems in the midwest.  Jake lives in Paonia with the 3 most amazing girls on the planet where they enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, biking  and floating, through the incredible vistas of the North Fork Valley.

Expect a speedy reply when you email him here. 

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Ben Katz, Public Lands Program Director

Ben joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in 2019. He grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. His interest in public lands began after college, when he worked as a Wilderness Ranger in the Weminuche Wilderness in San Juan National Forest. Travelling throughout southwest Colorado that summer, the natural landscapes and breathtaking scenery ingrained a desire to defend wild areas for future generations. After a second summer working as a Wilderness Ranger in the John Muir Wilderness, he moved into a role as a Wilderness Fellow with USFWS, writing baseline Wilderness character monitoring reports for Wilderness areas within wildlife refuges in Alaska and Nebraska. After working for a few years in water quality, Ben is excited to focus his efforts on protecting and preserving the public lands on the Western Slope. In his free time, he enjoys long distance backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, and relaxing with a good book.

You can reach Ben here!

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Dorothy Punderson, Community Outreach VISTA

Dorothy joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in April 2021 as the new Community Outreach VISTA. She graduated from Middlebury College in 2019, where she studied biology and Spanish. Dorothy is from Vermont, though she’s also spent time in Spain, Chile and California. She is excited to get to know the North Fork valley this year! In her free time Dorothy enjoys cooking, playing music and getting outside in all seasons.

Give Dorothy a shout here!

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Karen Tarnow, Community Outreach VISTA

Karen joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in February 2022 as the new Community Outreach VISTA. She grew up in upstate New York and spent the majority of her adult years in Oregon. Unlike many VISTAs, Karen elected to become a VISTA at the end of her career rather than the beginning. She spent 20+ years working in environmental policy and planning for local, state and federal agencies. In 2018 she left that path to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia where she helped her village improve food security and access to clean drinking water. She spent the last two winters volunteering at Capitol Reef National Park and vows to never spend another gray and rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest! Karen is excited to be part of the WSCC team and call Paonia home for a year (at least). She plans to spend her free time exploring the area on foot and bike, and spending many hours transforming the local bounty into tasty and healthful meals.

Give Karen a shout here!

photo of Heidi Hudek in front of Lamborn mountain at Sunset

Heidi Hudek, Bookkeeper

Heidi Hudek is an entrepreneur, a creative, and a mother. She owns her own business as a Bookkeeper, and is a professional musician and photographer. Heidi is a community advocate and connoisseur of locally grown foods. Heidi has been a Bookkeeper for various organizations for 4 years, including retail, restaurant, and design businesses, and she specializes in non-profits. She has been Treasurer, Secretary, and Executive Director of three nonprofits, and has been a Bookkeeper for six nonprofits. While raising her son as a single mom, Heidi has lived in Delta County since 2005. She sees the North Fork Valley as an inspirational place, worthy of celebration. She enjoys cooking at home with locally grown foods and values the land and water we enjoy here. Heidi works to build community connections and collaboration, and to provide arts education for kids.