In 1994, Martha Collins, Louise Forrest, and Martha Kauffman started a summer camp with the simple goal of creating fun, hands-on nature experiences for children. Armed with experience as educators, mediators, scientists, authors, and mothers, the trio shared the extraordinary vision that our lives are enriched when we have a greater understanding of our natural surroundings.
MOSS now reaches thousands of students in Gallatin, Park, and Madison Counties and beyond through year 'round K-12 programming. MOSS programs occur during and after school, PIR days, community-wide festivals, and our renowned summer camp series. We are committed to getting children outside and engaging them in place-based inquiry activities, and training educators in cutting-edge teaching practices.
Meet Our Team
Hans Figi, Executive Director
Hans has an extensive background in non-profit development, over a decade of experience in education, and a deep love for Montana and conservation. Passionate about education beyond the classroom, Hans helps MOSS bring its programs to urban, rural, and under-served students across Montana.
Hans returned to Montana in 2014 after nine years as Director of Development and Alumni Relations at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) and 400 year-old Charterhouse in England. From 2000-2005 he worked for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition as Director of Patron Relations and in 2005 served on the MOSS Board. He holds a BA in Economics from Carleton College.
Hans guided for the Telluride Mountaineering School, founded the Carleton College climbing club, and captained the school's alpine ski team. He has kept bees, loves biking and chasing a golf ball, and is an avid skier and ski instructor. Hans and his wife have two sons, (both former MOSS students), one studying medicine in London and the other at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
Elizabeth Green, Education Director
Elizabeth is passionate about getting kids outside in order to spark a lifetime love of nature. She firmly believes this is the key to future conservation and preservation of our wild spaces.
Liz earned her BA in Education from Roger Williams University in RI and her Master’s in Education at Berry College in Georgia. She taught elementary school for five years, honing her skills as both an educator and a teacher mentor.
Elizabeth and her husband moved to Bozeman in 2011 to raise their young son in a place that values the outdoors as much as they do. They have a small menagerie at home, which includes dogs, cats, fish, and chickens.
Michaela O'Donoghue, Summer Program Director & Lead Instructor
Michaela believes deeply in the power of educating and exciting young people about science and the natural world. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Environmental Biology from Montana State University and has years of experience with a variety of age groups, as well as numerous non-profits. She has previously worked with Audubon New Mexico, the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, MSU Extension Water Quality, and the Soil Fertility Lab at Montana State University, where she fostered her interest in research and continual learning. Michaela has a tremendous love for the outdoors and spends her free time skiing, learning about snow, mountain biking, running, and reading anything she can get her hands on! In addition to her passion for education and the outdoors, Michaela is dedicated to Emergency Medicine and is a National Registry Licensed Wilderness EMT, and an active member of Gallatin County Search and Rescue.
Audrey Chrisler, Office Administrator
Audrey has been an outdoor enthusiast, animal lover and huge fan of science all her life. Audrey earned her BA in Family and Human Services, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Oregon. She has taught at science-centric camps, led chocolate factory tours and is a certified yoga teacher and life coach. She traveled in India for a year working on WWOOF Farms and orphanages while also trekking and falling in love with all the colorful chaos that India has to offer. In Bozeman, Audrey loves to flyfish, backpack, find new dishes to make with her sourdough starter and take pictures of every beautiful view Montana has to offer. She is thrilled to be a part of the MOSS team where conservation, education and awareness of the outdoors is at the forefront.
Zak Salzler, Instructor
Although Zak is from north central Florida, growing up in the flat, swampy state did not keep him from pursuing life in the mountains. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Ecology and received a Masters in Evolutionary Biology and Genomics at the University of Montana. His interest in outdoor education was sparked while working as a naturalist in the White Mountains for the Appalachian Mountain Club hut system and as a summer camp climbing guide in Missoula. In his free time, Zak can be found outside rock climbing and skiing or at home baking loaves of sourdough bread. Zak is excited to bring together his passions for learning, the outdoors, and experiencing the sweetness of life.
Britney Gitch, Instructor
Britney grew up in Vancouver, Washington and her relationship with the outdoors began when she was extremely young through numerous hunting and hiking excursions. In 2013 she made her way to the spectacular Bozeman area to attend Montana State University and absolutely fell in love. Britney’s passion for learning intensified ten-fold after taking a two-month backpacking and kayaking trip throughout Montana with the Wild Rockies Field Institute. Through WRFI, she learned the powerful advantages of outdoor education and discovered her calling. After returning, Britney changed her major from Pre-Med to History-SETS (Science, the Environment, Technology and Society), which she will graduate with in the Fall of 2017. Britney began volunteering for MOSS last summer and had the time of her life! She is currently working on her Senior Capstone which entails creating an outdoor education curriculum in the special education classrooms at Meadowlark Elementary School. When she is not hiking, snowboarding or in school, Britney is coaching for the Bozeman Barracuda Swim Team, which is another reason why she loves teaching kids. She is incredibly excited to be a part of the MOSS team and to see what this summer has in store!
Nell Thalhamer, Instructor
Originally from Darien, Connecticut, Nell decided to leave the East Coast for a while and attend Montana State University. After obtaining a BS in Fish and Wildlife Management through the Ecology Department in 2015, she realized she was not ready to leave Montana and worked as a lift operator at Bridger Bowl last season. This will be Nell’s first time not going back to the East for a summer job. She worked three years as an assistant art teacher for kids ages 5-8, had an education fellowship at the Bronx Zoo last summer teaching the kids camp programs for grades 1-8, and is currently a teaching assistant at Sourdough Montessori School. She is beyond excited to be joining the MOSS team, and can't wait for all the adventures to begin. When not working Nell loves to run, ski, climb, paint, and so much more!!
Sam Bockius, Instructor
Sam moved to Bozeman in 2012 to attend Montana State University and recently graduated with a degree in Psychology. He quickly fell in love with the mountains around Bozeman and exploring all that Gallatin County has to offer. Growing up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Truckee California, Sam spent his time skiing, biking, and backpacking. Sam learned to share his love of the mountains with kids while working as a ski instructor in the Sierras. He has spent the past year volunteering for Big Sky Youth Empowerment and has seen the effects that nature can have on an individual. Sam is really excited to join the MOSS team and expand his knowledge about the environment, while helping others do the same.
Kit Kocha, Instructor
Originally from Wisconsin, Kit’s love of mountains and adventure drew her to Montana State University where she is pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering: Bio-resources Option. She loves rock climbing, mountain biking, and snowboarding, and is always looking for ways to get others involved in the outdoor community. In order to promote female involvement in adventure sports, she founded MSU’s Women’s Outdoor Adventure Club and spent the past two summers working as a canoeing and backpacking trip leader at Camp Manito-wish YMCA in Northern Wisconsin. She obtained her Wilderness First Responder Certification through NOLS-WMI and is excited to begin pursuing an EMT Certification this summer. Kit’s most recent adventure has taken her to the Amazon Rainforest, Andes Mountains, and Galapagos Islands of Ecuador where she is studying the ecology and conservation of major tropical ecosystems. Before returning to Bozeman for a summer with MOSS, she will be working and studying permaculture on an organic farm in coastal Ecuador.
Tory Dille, Instructor
Tory graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Upon graduation, Tory moved to the high rockies and worked as a natural science educator for an environmental education organization in the Vail Valley, Colorado. Tory's passion for environmental education stems from a desire to help students develop a meaningful sense of place and an interest in landscape stewardship. As a recent transplant to the Bozeman area, Tory is extremely excited to develop her own connection to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem through a few of her favorite activities: trail running, mountain biking, and backpacking. Tory is a certified Wilderness First Responder through NOLS-WMI and a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation.
Kaylee Schmitz, Instructor
Kaylee has a degree from MSU in Land Rehabilitation and has spent the last few summers identifying plants on a coal mine and researching climate effects on vegetation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. When she is not in the field, Kaylee helps out with the Children's Ministry at the E-Free Church of Bozeman. Growing up in Girl Scouts, she got to attend and eventually lead awesome outdoor camps. She can't wait to join the MOSS crew this summer and teach kids about the great outdoors!