Meet Our Team
Jess Haas, 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 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 Conservation 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.
Britney Gitch, Summer Program Director and Lead 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 is currently working towards her Master’s in the history of the American West.
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!
Trista Fery, Office Coordinator
After visiting Bozeman in 2010, Trista made the official move from her childhood stomping grounds in Oregon the following summer. While looking to further her education at Montana State, she was also drawn here by the incredible natural playground that surrounds Bozeman, as well as the strong outdoor community it provides for. Trista holds a life-long passion for the outdoors, from her childhood running around the farm she grew up on to finding solace in the deserts of Utah or in the local mountain ranges between semesters at MSU.
Trista graduated from MSU in 2018 and is excited to now have more time than ever to get involved in the community and inspire others to love and protect our environment - locally & globally.
When she’s not at MOSS, she can be found wandering the local trails, running the Gallatin River, on her yoga mat or taking laps at Bridger Bowl. Above all else, Trista is inspired by a passion for constant growth as well as compassion for others and nature and is excited to be a part of the MOSS team!
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.
Jacob Zimmerer, Instructor
Jacob grew up in Northeast Ohio, wandering through dense deciduous forests, skipping stones, catching frogs, and discovering the beauty of the natural world. In 5th grade, he visited the Rocky Mountains for the first time and fell in love with the West. His dreams of moving to the mountains were fulfilled in 2014 when his family left Ohio for the foothills of Colorado’s Front Range. Soon after arriving, he accepted an internship at Jefferson County’s Mt. Evans Outdoor Laboratory School, where he spent a year teaching ecology to 6th grade students and developed a deep interest in experiential education.
Jacob is passionate about helping people to feel at home in the woods and is excited to share his love for Montana’s vast and varied landscapes as an instructor for MOSS. He is currently a student at Montana State University studying environmental science. When he’s not on campus, you’ll find him fly-fishing, backcountry skiing, foraging, backpacking, and practicing his primitive skills.
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!
Felicia King, Instructor
Felicia grew up in Santa Cruz, CA. Her appreciation for the outdoors started with long summer road trips with her family to camp and hike in National Parks all across the US. This appreciation grew into a passion in high school through many outdoor adventures, including skiing, surfing, and backpacking. This love for the outdoors led her through majoring in Biology at Stanford University in California, where she studied marine organisms on the shores of California, the open ocean, and Fiji. But the mountains were calling...and she moved to Bozeman to teach skiing.
Felicia is now a teacher by trade and knows the meaning of life is "to love and be loved", but speculates that it is also "to teach and to learn". She finds inspiration by observing and playing in nature and loves to help others bring this joy and learning into their lives.
Eric Metz, Instructor
Eric grew up in Hanford, California where he unfortunately did not have many outdoor experiences as a kid. It was not until he moved to Bozeman as a student at MSU that he got a deep appreciation for the outdoors; he was late to the party, but he is interested in making up for lost time. While an undergraduate in Paleontology, he was able to take multiple outdoor courses and participate in field work. One summer, excavations occurred along the road to Glacier National Park and numerous interested families would stop by to look at the dinosaur fossils. It was here that Eric realized the power of quality science education, and the importance of the outdoor classroom. Upon returning to MSU that fall he applied for a second degree in Science Education.
Throughout his educational career Eric has taught outdoor courses for almost every age group from kindergarten to adults. He believes that science should be taught through experimentation in the outdoors and not as boring jargon filled dogma. He started working for MOSS in the Spring of 2018 and can not wait to get students outdoors learning! When not at MOSS, Eric is found skiing, backpacking, hiking, swimming and looking at interesting rocks.
Heidi Buzzetti, Instructor
Heidi grew up on the Central Coast of California, but quickly made her way east after high school. Though she grew up exploring and ski racing in the Central Sierras, the Rockies were calling her name. After studying Outdoor Education at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, she moved north to Bozeman to further her education at Montana State University. Heidi is a recent graduate in Environmental Studies and is passionate about educating children through outdoor education and applied science. In her spare time Heidi loves to ski, volunteer as an EMT for Big Sky Ski Patrol, climb, backpack, eat fresh veggies from her garden, play with her dogs and chickens, cook yummy food, read books, and play music!
Mellanie Lerum, 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 loves traveling the world. Her excitement for the outdoors has given her a love of animals as well. Over the course of her life Mellanie has lived with many creatures and always looks forward to wildlife encounters. On her adventures she enjoys collecting rocks, bones, shells, and fossils, both as 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, then continue to travel the world through the military. Soon, 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 continues to thrive in outdoor education with MOSS and the school program at Crosscut Mountain Sports Center.
For Mellanie all of these experiences have created 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 second full season with MOSS and she couldn’t be more excited!
Maria Neira, Instructor
Maria was born and raised in Wisconsin, but headed west for college to study elementary education and enjoy the beauties of the mountains. Her first job was as a summer camp counselor in the thick woods of northern Wisconsin, and this wonderful experience changed her life. Maria then went on to teach art at a summer camp in Maine and instruct high ropes in the desert of California. Through these experiences, Maria believes in the power of children in the outdoors and wholesome experiences. She even hopes to spend the rest of her life teaching science in the middle school to inspire and engage the future.
Maria has always had a passion for the outdoors and protecting it. When she is not in school, she can be found somewhere in the mountains either skiing, climbing, or backpacking. She also loves creating art and traveling the world!
Josh Buonpane, Instructor
Growing up in New England, Josh’s first experience in the outdoors began in the secondary forests of southern Massachusetts. Having spent multiple summers at family members’ sustainable farm community, he developed an interest in natural systems and was eager to understand how they worked. This, coupled with a budding desire to hike in the mountains, resulted in him ending up at the University of New Hampshire to study environmental science. Upon graduating, Josh spent the next two years working as both a naturalist and environmental educator in the White Mountains. These experiences solidified in his mind the notion that the best way to love and experience a place is through sharing your understanding of it with others.
Having always been interested in wild places, Josh hoped from an early age to someday make the move west. A cross-country bicycle trip that took him through beautiful and remote parts of the American West solidified this desire. Discovering southwest Montana through ski instructing at Big Sky, he realized that this area has a beautiful and interesting natural and cultural history. Josh believes that helping the younger generation develop an appreciation for the natural world, especially through the lens of scientific literacy is critical for the future of the planet as well as healthy human societies. This is what led him to the Montana Outdoor Science School. When he’s not teaching kids on the trails or ski slopes, Josh can be found hiking mountains, looking for birds, skiing, cooking with friends, biking, and making music.