National Forest Foundation

New NFF Staff: Meet Monica

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Throughout my childhood, my parents brought my brother and me hiking and camping in the wilderness areas surrounding our neighborhoods and communities. First, this was along the Pacific Coast of Southern California, camping along the beach and finding life in the tide pools dotting the coastline. I moved a few times as a kid, and though I hated it at the time, I’m glad for it now as I was able to experience diverse landscapes and parts of the country. 

We moved from California to western Arizona, where we explored the canyons of the desert and the red rock and trails of the central part of the state.  Later, we moved to the rolling hills and forests, cut with streams, of Appalachian Ohio. Over the years and varying sceneries, my appreciation and delight in the natural world grew and sparked a curiosity and love for wildlife, the environment, and our public lands.

I fueled that love and interest with a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Ohio University. After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked across the country with a variety of wildlife, from marine fish to chimpanzees, in the field and at primate sanctuaries. After a few years, I realized that starting with the most powerful primate, humans, may be a more impactful route to wildlife and habitat conservation.

Ohio's Wayne National Forest.

In 2010, I moved to Missoula, Montana, to earn an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. My main areas of study included community-based wildlife conservation, political ecology, and environmental justice. After graduate school and prior to joining the NFF team, I worked for local environmental and conservation organizations in Missoula, including the Great Bear Foundation and the county conservation district. At my previous positions, I engaged with community members and private landowners on various topics from wildlife attractants to riparian and soil health.

Now, I am thrilled to be a part of the NFF team and work with corporate partners and the U.S. Forest Service to reforest important wildlife habitat and recreation areas in our National Forests. National Forests have always played a large role in my life. 

Some of my favorite memories as a kid are from Coconino National Forest: hearing coyotes howl at night, running into a family of javelinas, and sliding down a natural rock water slide. In college in Athens, Ohio, I biked through Wayne National Forest each week on the popular rail trail that begins in town and runs through the National Forest. 

Today, I’m fortunate to live in Missoula, Montana, where I am surrounded by National Forests. Bitterroot National Forest will always be a go-to for my husband and I, with its numerous streams and waterfalls (plus great breweries to visit after the hike!), but Lolo and Flathead National Forests also hold some favorite spots that we visit each year. I’m not a skier, so am itching for warmer weather to be able to get out and find our next favorite hike or paddling destination!


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