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
Jess Haas, Executive Director
Meet Jess, MOSS’s new Executive Director!
Jess believes that experiences in nature are crucial to the well-being of individuals and communities. With over ten years of non-profit outdoor education experience in urban and rural areas, she has been integral to the development and sustainability of outdoor education programs for youth and adults across the west. Jess is honored to build on the outstanding success of MOSS over the past 24 years while working to fulfill the mission in new ways.
Jess moved to the Rocky Mountains from the glaciated prairies of South Dakota. She studied geology and theatre at the University of North Dakota and environmental education at the University of Idaho before working as an AmeriCorps Member with the McCall Outdoor Science School. Most recently, Jess managed youth, college, and teacher programming in Yellowstone National Park. Jess is an active volunteer and committee member with several state and national organizations including the Montana Environmental Education Association, Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association, and the National Parks Conservations Association. She spends her time skiing and running with her rescue dog, Hazel, reading with her plus-sized cat, Suki, and eating elaborate meals with her Michigan-born partner, Eric.
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.
Corie Rice, Summer Program Director and Lead Instructor
Corie is a Minnesota native who grew up paddling, hiking and exploring in the Boundary Waters. She spent two summers as a camp counselor at a wilderness exploration camp in Ely, Minnesota, which led her to realize that learning and playing in nature brings out the best in everyone. Corie graduated from Montana State University with a degree in Organismal Biology. She became a MOSS instructor in 2016 and has loved teaching MOSS lessons both in schools and in summer programs ever since! When Corie is not at MOSS she is hiking, fly fishing, or volunteering with the education team at the Montana Raptor Conservation Center.
Britney Gitch, Office Administrator and 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, where she learned the powerful advantages of outdoor education. She graduated from MSU with a degree in History-SETS (Science, the Environment, Technology and Society) and will be attending Graduate School at MSU in 2018 to study the history of outdoor education in the American West and receive her Teaching Certificate.
When Britney isn't teaching for MOSS, she can be found backpacking in the backcountry, snowboarding or hunting. As a MOSS instructor since 2016, Britney continues to have a blast teaching summer camps, PIR days and traveling to schools across Montana to show kids the incredible outdoors!
Sarah Denner, Instructor
Sarah is constantly inspired by the world in which she lives and looks to find a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. She is a traveler, artist, and nature lover. As a ten-year resident of Bozeman, southwest Montana has truly captured Sarah’s heart and intensified her investment in the people, community, and natural resources that make this area unique. She immerses herself in activities, which get her outside, breathing fresh air and enjoying the wonders of the Rocky Mountains and beyond.
As an educator, she regards herself as more than a mere purveyor of knowledge. She believes spending time in the outdoors with our next generation, as well as inspiring them to become well rounded, engaged citizens of the community and stewards to their environment, are the greatest gifts that she can pass on.
Sarah is a graduate of University of New Hampshire with a degree in Pre-Veterinary Medicine. She recently graduated from Montana State University with a Master’s degree in Education and earned her Montana Educator’s License. In the past, she has worked as a ski and snowboard instructor at Bridger Bowl and as an instructor for the Audubon Society of New Hampshire’s nature based education team. Sarah is currently pursuing a Wilderness First Responder Certification and looks forward to leading backpacking trips at MOSS this summer!
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.
Phia Swart, Instructor
When Phia was just a little guppy growing up in Bozeman she went exploring with MOSS in the summers. Now, years later she has returned to pass on her love for rocks, plants and animals as an instructor! Phia often skis, climbs, plays in the mud, climbs trees and paints in her free time. She is an artist specializing in abstract wildlife and landscape, and her favorite thing to do is collaborate on art with kindergarteners!
Before returning to Bozeman last year, Phia went exploring with NOLS for a semester in the Rockies and the Southwest where she recieved her Wilderness First Responder. She then lived in Seattle where she worked as a fulltime nanny and then moved to Bellingham where she worked as a ski instructor for the kids of Mt. Baker. Phia has been taking on a double major in Geology and Conservation Ecology at Montana State University in hopes to teach, explore, protect and inspire a love for the land.
Kayte Cole, Instructor
Kayte recently moved to Bozeman from Salt Lake City, UT, where she spent most of her time exploring the Cottonwood Canyons, rock climbing in the desert and running on the trails through the Wasatch Mountain Range. Originally from Minnesota, Kayte grew up playing ice hockey from a young age (always supporting those MN stereotypes, you betcha!), visiting the Boundary Waters with her family and dreaming of exploring the mountains out West! During college, Kayte worked as a camp counselor on Flathead Lake, making frequent trips to Glacier National Park and quickly fell in love with everything Montana has to offer. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College in the spring of 2016 with a degree in Elementary Education, Kayte finally made her way out West for good. When she's not teaching at one of the local elementary schools, she spends most of her time at the ice rink coaching or playing hockey (go Icedogs!). She also enjoys hiking, camping, thrift shopping and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Kayte is beyond excited to join the MOSS family!
Ruthie Castle, Instructor
Ruthie grew up northern Michigan, which is where her love for the outdoors began. Being the free-range youngest of five children, she enjoyed hiking, skiing, playing hockey, and climbing trees. She was homeschooled all the way through high school, which gave her the freedom to learn about the outdoors in a hands-on manner. This type of education also allowed her the chance to travel from an early age, which is when she fell in love with the west, and particularly Bozeman.
Ruthie is currently studying Outdoor and Environmental Recreation and Substance Abuse Education at Central Michigan University, where she just received her Wilderness First Responder certification. She is incredibly excited to leave the flat cornfields of Mt. Pleasant, MI and make her way back to the mountains! Ruthie is passionate about creating a relationship between people and nature and is eager to do so at MOSS!
In her free time, Ruthie loves to rock climb, play with dogs, drink good coffee, and backpack!
Mellanie Stordahl, Instructor
Mellanie grew up in many places, getting an early exposure to various climates, animals, and people which sparked an interest in the outdoors. From the lowest points in Death Valley to the highest peak in Germany, she has loved seeing it all. Her love of the outdoors has given her a love of animals as well. Over the course of her life Mellanie has lived with many creatures and is eager for any wildlife observations she comes across on her adventures. In particular, she enjoys collecting rocks, bones, shells, and fossils as both mementos from her trips and as tools for peeking people’s interest in science.
Originally, Mellanie moved to Bozeman with the intention to learn to snowboard, become an Army nurse, and continue to travel the world through the military. However, snowboarding became skiing, her love of helping people became of a love for teaching people, and Mellanie grew to love Bozeman too much to want to move away. She graduated in 2015 with a science education degree and has applied her abilities in outdoor education through several day camps with MOSS as well as two seasons with the local cross-country skiing ranch.
All of these experiences have created for Mellanie a desire to teach young people about the wonders of the world, to help them to explore such places, and impart a sense of stewardship. This summer will be her first full season with MOSS and she couldn’t be more excited!