Team

Ethan Kunard
Executive Director

Ethan joined MWCC as Executive Director in November 2019. Prior to this, he spent seven years in Ennis, MT where he worked on collaborative community-based conservation efforts throughout the Madison Valley. During this time, he also served on the Board of Directors for MWCC and was actively involved as a member of the Madison County Planning Board. Ethan graduated from the University of Montana, where he studied in the College of Forestry & Conservation. His interest in conservation started in his youth while backpacking along parts of the Continental Divide, but his passion for this work developed once he was introduced to Montana’s unique approach of conservation through collaborative grassroots efforts. He continues to find inspiration and enjoyment in the outdoors, something he now shares with his highly enthusiastic dog, Georgie. As Executive Director, Ethan is passionate and excited about supporting the work of individuals and organizations across the state to conserve and protect Montana’s priceless natural resources and outdoor character.

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Terri Nichols
Watershed Programs Coordinator

Terri has been engaged in community-based watershed health since her time as a volunteer citizen scientist in central California in the early 2000s. Originally from Detroit, she moved to the Flathead Valley to work on a small farm in 2007 and has since travelled throughout Montana as a stream and wetland technician for the U.S. Forest Service and Montana Natural Heritage Program. Prior to joining MWCC, Terri worked with Clark Fork River stakeholders to ensure community input in the cleanup of hazardous wastes at the former Smurfit-Stone Mill site in Frenchtown. She also helped farmers in rural Northern Zambia to protect soil, water, and forest resources during her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Terri studied Natural Resources Conflict Resolution at the University of Montana and also has extensive communications experience. She is passionate about providing communities with the resources they need to preserve and protect watershed and community health.

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Kierra Davis
Outreach and Communications Coordinator
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Michelle McGree
Board Chair

Michelle McGree is a 5th generation Montanan who has been working as a fisheries biologist since 2010. She has an M.S. in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University. In 2014 she became a habitat improvement grant manager for the fisheries division of Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks and has been focused on watershed improvement ever since. She is passionate about finding restoration solutions through collaboration, as well as conservation, fish biology, and improving angling opportunities for current and future generations. Michelle is proud that she has been able to help provide watershed groups and others with over $3 million for restoration through the Future Fisheries Improvement Program. She values the opportunity to bring her perspective to MWCC and to be part of connecting people, ideas, and resources to on-the-ground restoration.

Sarah Bates
Board Co-Vice Chair

Sarah Bates serves as the Deputy Regional Director and Senior Director for Western Water with the National Wildlife Federation’s Northern Rockies, Prairies & Pacific regional office in Missoula. Sarah brings diverse experience from positions with nonprofits, consulting, and university research centers, and has published books, articles and research reports and taught classes in public lands, water and environmental law. She played leadership roles on the Clark Fork Coalition governing board, and currently serves as a Senior Fellow with the University of Montana’s Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program. Sarah is passionate about engaging people to develop lasting solutions to resource management and governance challenges, and she is eager to build new relationships with and support the good work of watershed groups and agency partners throughout Montana through her service on the MWCC board.

Zach Owen
Board Co-Vice Chair

Zach has lived and worked in Montana for 15 years, realizing at some point that it’s home. He joined the Beaverhead Watershed Committee in 2017 to expand the group into the Red Rock Watershed. He loves the collaborative nature of his work in Southwest Montana and believes that this style of community-driven resource conservation that we’re all learning is what will allow us to solve the bigger problems coming in the future. Prior to working in the Beaverhead, Zach spent years working seasonal field jobs and then permanent office jobs before his work brought him to the Centennial Valley, where he learned a different conservation philosophy that has served him well in his current work. Zach has decided to stick around for a while in the watershed world and to lend his skills to the MWCC Board, partly due to sitting in a crowded room of watershed professionals and realizing “I really like these people” ...

Wayne Gardella
Board Treasurer

Wayne is the District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Montana District Office. He enjoys fly fishing Montana's blue-ribbon rivers and hiking and camping in Montana's backcountry. Wayne recognizes the importance of maintain healthy watersheds and wilderness designated areas. Wayne has a strong belief in community support. Wayne serves on the boards of Montana Wilderness Association, Helena Youth Soccer Association, Montana Youth Soccer Association, and the Montana Economic Developers Association. Wayne is a CPA and received his MBA from Marymount University in Arlington, VA.

Adam Sigler
Board Member

Adam has been working for MSU Extension since 2004, conducting programming to help Montanans understand, use, and protect their water resources. A central theme in that programming is engagement of citizens in the scientific process as a means to both enhance the science and increase the likelihood that research will be used to inform management. Adam is excited to bring insights from cutting edge scientific discovery to bear on the problems that water users and communities face. Adam recognizes that each watershed has a different set of issues for which solutions are best identified by local stakeholders informed with the best information available. As an employee of the public education branch of the university, Adam is dedicated to making water resource science approachable and relevant. Adam takes pride in working with MWCC as an organization dedicated to connecting watershed organizations to the information and resources they need to be effective.

Amy Seaman
Board Member

Amy works on policy and conservation as the Conservation Program Manager for Montana Audubon. She has been in this role since 2013 and works on the statewide Important Birds Area Program, on citizen science projects, and with nine independent Audubon Chapters across the state. Learning bird songs is a passion, and avian studies have been a focal point for Amy, taking her to locations such as the Madison and Missouri Rivers, Charles M. Russell NWR, Bitterroot Valley, Glacier National Park, the highline, and the Bridger and Big Belt Mountains. These experiences allow Amy to contribute to MWCC through her knowledge of the birds and wildlife that rely on our state’s waterways and are impacted by landscape issues within each of the state’s watersheds. Her statewide role allows her to engage with diverse communities and groups, and she is passionate about being able to build relationships that can move conservation forward.

Eric Trum
Board Member
Eric Trum has been with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality since 2013. He works in the watershed protection section to support restoration and protection of Montana’s rivers, streams, and lakes. Prior to joining DEQ, he worked on watershed restoration projects for the US Forest Service and as a private consultant evaluating environmental programs for government agencies and NGOs. Eric earned a master’s degree in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School and Land Resources and Environmental Science from Montana State University. Eric enjoys Montana adventures with his wife and two young kids – like back country sledding, hiking the far mountains, building forts, chasing butterflies, and chunking rocks into water while fishing. As a Boston native, he also spends time brainwashing his family into obsessive fans of New England sports teams.
Barbara Chillcott
Board Member

Barbara has worked in natural resources conservation for 12 years. After law school, she became one of the first employees of a nonprofit formed to put together instream flow transactions across Montana. She later served as executive director of that group.  After negotiating a merger with the Clark Fork Coalition (CFC), Barbara assisted in making instream flow work an integral part of CFC’s mission. As legal director for CFC for six years, she supported the organization’s policy development and on-the-ground restoration efforts. Barbara is proud of her role in shaping and supporting CFC’s restoration program and in advocating for important conservation policies. Currently, as an attorney for DNRC, she enjoys working on natural resource issues at the state government level. Her involvement with MWCC provides the perfect balance for staying engaged in local community-based watershed issues. Barbara is passionate about MWCC’s mission to support local watershed organizations who benefit from increased capacity.

Charles Wolf Drimal
Board Member

Charles is a senior waters conservation associate at the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He has spent the past seven years working on public lands and wild river conservation at GYC. His most recent accomplishment includes passage of the East Rosebud Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, Montana’s first designated Wild & Scenic River in 42 years. He’s currently working on broad-based Wild & Scenic Rivers legislation to protect iconic Montana waterways on public lands in the Greater Yellowstone and Crown of the Continent Ecosystems. He has also spearheaded watershed conservation funding opportunities in the Upper Yellowstone watershed. Before joining the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Charles co-founded two non-profit organizations – the Montana Backcountry Alliance, which supports backcountry skiers and riders looking to protect opportunities for quiet human-powered winter recreation, and Absaroka Institute, which ran wilderness meditation and yoga expeditions throughout the American West.

Tana Nulph
Board Member

Tana is the Associate Director of the Big Hole Watershed Committee, where she is in charge of communications and event planning, manages grants and projects, maintains partnerships, and oversees the Big Hole River Drought Management Plan. She completed her Master of Natural Resources degree at the University of Idaho and received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science/Biology from the University of Montana Western. Tana joined BHWC in 2014 and resides in the Big Hole watershed near Divide. She is most passionate about representing and including the local community in conservation issues. She loves the Big Hole and its residents and considers herself lucky to live there. Tana is a heartfelt believer that “Conservation is as much about community as it is about land and water.” She is most proud of her work with wildlife conflict reduction in the Upper Big Hole Valley.

Mike Koopal
Board Member

Mike is the founder and executive director of the Whitefish Lake Institute (WLI), an organization that gives Whitefish Lake a voice within the community. WLI’s research supports management decision-making and tangible projects to improve water quality. WLI’s educational programs foster the next generation of water stewards. Mike also serves on the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission (UC3) where he chairs the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Early Detection and Monitoring Committee, and the Flathead Basin Commission where he serves on the Executive Committee. Mike is excited to be on the MWCC team to embrace the diversity of watershed groups in Montana and to support their pursuit of protecting our shared resources. He hopes to draw upon his 25 years in the natural resource profession to provide creative vision to MWCC and strengthen partnerships to foster efficient and comprehensive watershed programs.

Dusty Olson
Board Member

Dusty lives in Eastern Montana and works as the Administrator for the Garfield County Conservation District (GCCD). With the District, Dusty has been able to work on a vast assortment of natural resource conservation projects such as soil health, rangeland monitoring, fire recovery, education, and outreach. Dusty’s passion project with the District is the operation of two watercraft inspection stations, helping protect Montana waters from Aquatic Invasive Species. Because of this work, GCCD was given the 2019 Rangeland Stewardship Award by BLM and Dusty was named Employee of the Year by the Montana Association of Conservation Districts. Outside of work, Dusty loves fishing and traveling.

Keri Bilbo
Government Liaison

Keri has more than 20 years of experience with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and is currently Montana’s Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations. Raised on a cotton farm in west Texas, Keri takes great pride in seeing how conservation at the watershed scale can not only heal the land but can also bring together the people involved. She has worked with community partners in Broadwater County’s Deep Creek and Gallatin County’s Camp Creek to improve water quality through the NRCS National Water Quality Initiative funding. These efforts required strong partnerships with local Conservation Districts, watershed organizations, and groups such as MWCC. Keri emphasizes “conservation connectivity,” and it brings her great joy to see the successes that can be realized by working across both sides of the fence and seeing one producer’s conservation efforts connected to those of their neighbors.


Zach Owen
Watershed Fund Committee Chair

Zach has lived and worked in Montana for 15 years, realizing at some point that it’s home. He joined the Beaverhead Watershed Committee in 2017 to expand the group into the Red Rock Watershed. He loves the collaborative nature of his work in Southwest Montana and believes that this style of community-driven resource conservation that we’re all learning is what will allow us to solve the bigger problems coming in the future. Prior to working in the Beaverhead, Zach spent years working seasonal field jobs and then permanent office jobs before his work brought him to the Centennial Valley, where he learned a different conservation philosophy that has served him well in his current work. Zach has decided to stick around for a while in the watershed world and to lend his skills to the MWCC Board, partly due to sitting in a crowded room of watershed professionals and realizing “I really like these people” ...

Tana Nulph
Watershed Fund Committee Member

Tana is the Associate Director of the Big Hole Watershed Committee, where she is in charge of communications and event planning, manages grants and projects, maintains partnerships, and oversees the Big Hole River Drought Management Plan. She completed her Master of Natural Resources degree at the University of Idaho and received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science/Biology from the University of Montana Western. Tana joined BHWC in 2014 and resides in the Big Hole watershed near Divide. She is most passionate about representing and including the local community in conservation issues. She loves the Big Hole and its residents and considers herself lucky to live there. Tana is a heartfelt believer that “Conservation is as much about community as it is about land and water.” She is most proud of her work with wildlife conflict reduction in the Upper Big Hole Valley.

Sierra Harris
Watershed Fund Committee Member

Sierra has been fortunate to work throughout Montana’s watershed communities for over 10 years, learning a lot about the people, the water, and how much we all love this place! Sierra has worked for both a small watershed group and a large conservation-based non-profit, and she now has a good understanding of how our communities can better support one another. Her past Board experience with MWCC gave her great ideas and perspective on how to tie all the pieces, issues, funding, and partners into a more cohesive plan for Montana’s future. Beyond her passion for water work, Sierra loves to get outside and explore Montana’s backcountry, fish our rivers, and enjoy time at her family's lake cabin in the Flathead Valley.

Adam Sigler
Water Committee Chair

Adam has been working for MSU Extension since 2004, conducting programming to help Montanans understand, use, and protect their water resources. A central theme in that programming is engagement of citizens in the scientific process as a means to both enhance the science and increase the likelihood that research will be used to inform management. Adam is excited to bring insights from cutting edge scientific discovery to bear on the problems that water users and communities face. Adam recognizes that each watershed has a different set of issues for which solutions are best identified by local stakeholders informed with the best information available. As an employee of the public education branch of the university, Adam is dedicated to making water resource science approachable and relevant. Adam takes pride in working with MWCC as an organization dedicated to connecting watershed organizations to the information and resources they need to be effective.

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Katie Makarowski
Water Quality Specialist
Katie grew up in rural upstate New York. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies in 2004 at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. She moved to Missoula in 2007 to attend graduate school at the University of Montana and, in 2009, earned her Master of Science degree in watershed ecology through the Environmental Studies Department. While in graduate school, Katie spent two field seasons monitoring water quality across Montana for the Department of Environmental Quality’s Reference Stream Project. She has worked in Helena for DEQ’s Water Quality Planning Bureau since 2010 monitoring and assessing statewide surface water quality. Katie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, adventuring with her boyfriend (Ryan) and dog (Guthrie), cooking, doing artwork, seeing live music, gardening, rock hunting and exploring Montana. She is pleased to be a part of the Montana Watershed Coordination Council and is inspired by the many Montanans who are passionately protecting and preserving our water resources. Happy monitoring!
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Mark Ockey
Water Activities Work Group Leader
Mark Ockey was raised in western Oregon and Washington, where he spent most of his free time fishing, bird-watching, hiking, and exploring in the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound. He received a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from Brigham Young University. Following graduation from college, he met and married the lovely Jennifer Whitfield. She and he now have a beautiful daughter who is quickly becoming Mark’s favorite fishing buddy. Mark’s professional work has included nutrient management planning and outreach and education for conservation districts in Washington State. He also spent several years working in DEQ’s Permitting and Compliance Division, first in the coal mine permitting program, and then as the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation discharge permit coordinator. Currently, Mark enjoys working in DEQ’s nonpoint source pollution prevention program where he has primary responsibility for working with agricultural groups, and with CDs and watershed groups in central and eastern Montana. Mark finds great satisfaction in building relationships with members of the ag’ community to promote voluntary efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution.
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Robert Ray
Water Committee Member

Robert Ray is a Water Quality Specialist in the Watershed Protection Section at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. He managed the Nonpoint Source Program for the State of Montana from 2002 to 2016 and the TMDL program from 2002 to 2006. Prior to working for the state of Montana, he was the Director of Watershed Services at the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. In that role he updated and implemented the Regional Water Quality Plan (208 Plan) and supported and participated in numerous watershed-scale water quality planning and implementation efforts. Robert has also worked in water quality protection for the city of Arvada, Colorado, the Virginia Water Control Board, and as a Research Associate at the University of Maryland’s Horn Point Environmental Laboratories. He earned a BS in Biology from the University of New Mexico in 1982 and a MS in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary in 1986.

Robert is married and has a grown son and daughter. He loves the out-of- doors and gets great joy from skiing, running, mountaineering, biking, rafting, canoeing, etc.

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Valerie Kurth
Water Committee Member

Valerie works for DNRC as the Water Planner for the Clark Fork and Kootenai River Basins. From 2014-2019, she worked for the Flathead Conservation District in Kalispell, where she helped local landowners implement conservation projects on private property. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees while studying forestry and ecosystem ecology in Montana and Arizona, and she has published peer-reviewed research on wood-inhabiting fungi, forest nutrient cycling, and an original approach to assessing disturbance severity. She also has a diversity of field experience, including riparian vegetation monitoring in Montana and Idaho and freshwater mussel surveys in Minnesota. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, traveling, and getting on the water in a raft or canoe.

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Brett Heitshusen
Water Committee Member

Brett Heitshusen grew up on a small farm raising corn, soybeans, hogs, and cattle near Williamsburg, Iowa. He was enlisted in the US Air Force before graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016 with a BA in Geography Earth Science, technical certifications in Hydrology and Geospatial
Information Science and Cartography, and also a BA in English Poetry. While at CU Boulder Brett collected surface and groundwater samples and maintained data logger and weather station networks for the Boulder Critical Zone Observatory. In 2013, Brett also participated in a summer field season
collecting dendrochronology data to reconstruct historic wildfire extents in Montana’s Paradise Valley and Hungry Horse Reservoir watersheds. Currently Brett works at the Montana Department of Agriculture - Groundwater Protection Program, monitoring the state’s groundwaters for agricultural
chemicals and collaborating with the Montana Mesonet to construct a state-wide weather station network. In his free time, Brett enjoys Montana’s outdoors, writing, hardscaping, sculpture and ceramics.

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Brent Zundel
Water Committee Member

Brent Zundel grew up in Billings, Montana, and first learned to appreciate the Yellowstone River basin’s water resources by swimming in rivers and canals and fishing high-country lakes. He moved to the Gallatin River basin to attend Montana State University, graduating with degrees in civil engineering and Spanish.
He is a civil engineer with the Bozeman office of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). At DNRC, he works with a broad range of water-related programs, primarily safety of dams, floodplain management, hydrology, and water rights. He enjoys working with a wide range of water professionals and provide on-the-ground technical support to water users.
In 2015, he spent a nine-month sabbatical as a Fulbright researcher in Concepción, Chile, studying water resource management in south-central Chile, where he refined his passion for pisco, palta (avocado), and unintelligible Spanish slang.
In his free time, he enjoys all outdoor activities, cooking, oil painting, and traveling in Latin America. His favorite place in the world is above timberline in the Beartooth Mountains.

Erin Wall
Water Committee Member

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Georgia, Erin came to Montana as an AmeriCorps member serving with the Gallatin Conservation District. After her term, she worked for the Forest Service conducting stream and riparian assessments in the Little Belt and Castle Mountains, and then Montana State University Extension- Water Quality where she administered the Well Educated program, developed sampling and analysis plans and monitoring protocols for conservation districts and watershed groups, and assisted in water quality monitoring efforts. Currently, Erin is a Source Water Specialist with Montana Rural Water Systems where she works with community water systems to develop and implement source water protection plans. When she isn’t working to protect Montana’s drinking water, Erin enjoys knitting, ceramics, learning how to sew, and spending time outdoors.

Jennifer Schoonen
Development Committee Chair
Jennifer Schoonen joined the Blackfoot Challenge staff as Blackfoot Water Steward in September 2013. Previously, Jennifer worked for 11 years for the National Forest Foundation, most recently as vice president of development and communications. She also spent nine years at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation working in communications, conservation education, and lands and conservation. Jennifer holds a master’s degree in journalism and natural resource management from the University of Arizona. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys hiking, camping, fishing and travel with her husband, Tony, and daughters, Carli and Brooke.
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