Tod Thayer, Executive Director
RAY YURKEWYCZ, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Amy Tanska, VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS DIRECTOR
ABIGAIL GROSKOPF, SCIENCE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
*Majority funding for this position is provided in honor of Professor James F. Kaufman of Cambridge University. His passion for the Cascades, and Mount St. Helens in particular, is infectious.
GRACE SCHMIDT, SCIENCE & LEARNING CENTER COORDINATOR
Luke Wakefield, Media Coordinator
Jared Smith,Lead Climbing Guide
Jared is a father of four, lifetime resident of the area and has been climbing Mount St. Helens for 20 years. His Avalanche 2 and Wilderness First Responder certifications are not only an asset to MSHI, our volunteers and public participants but also to his service as a member of the local Volcano Rescue Team. Jared loves back country touring and climbing on his off days.
Kate Richardson, Office Manager
Sam Dussel, Lead Guide and Guided Programs Coordinator
As a recent graduate from Oregon State University with a degree in Recreation Resource Management, Sam has a deep passion for the outdoors and enjoys hiking, biking, climbing, rafting and just about any activity that involves getting to remote and beautiful places. Born and raised in the southern Cascades, he flourishes in the mountains as well as in the high deserts. Sam earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age 17 and enjoys using his knowledge and experience to guide and educate others about the wonders of the outdoors. After backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail for 5 months during the summer of 2013, he is excited to be back in some of the best country the PNW has to offer. Mount St. Helens provides an unique opportunity for him to share the intricate and explosive history of the mountain with guests while enjoying the beauty of the area.
Rachel Bishop, Guided Programs Assistant
Some people call her Ray Ray, but Rachel will do. This lady has a raging passion for birds, garlic, open spaces, sunsets, salty shores, and misty mountains. Her love for the neatness of nature led her to study environmental education at Western Washington University with an emphasis in outdoor education. Rachel has worked as a sea kayak, stand up paddle board, mountain bike, and backpacking guide throughout Washington State. Bringing others out into the deep wild wonders of the world brings a smile wider than the Mount St. Helens’ crater to this gal’s freckled face. As a WFR, Rachel is prepared for the unfortunate events that will not occur. Any joke will make her laugh, and its one that many say is unforgettable.
Sonja Melander, Science Educator
Sonja loves volcanoes! Before her recent move to the Pacific Northwest, Sonja worked as an educator at Montserrat Volcano Observatory in the Caribbean and as a Geological Society of America intern at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Sonja earned her Masters of Science in Geology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research focused on caldera volcanism in Italy. Sonja has also poked around volcanoes, old and new, in New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Mexico, and the Canary Islands. Sonja enjoys walking on soft moss, listening to the sounds of moving water, kissing rocks, doodling, taking photographs, kayaking, and finding new places to explore and adventure! Sonja loves being outside, whether it’s for geologic fieldwork, rockhounding, or just meandering. She also really hopes that one day volcanology will discover that volcanoes are powered by dragons, but sadly realizes that’s probably not going to happen.
Jason Huntley, Science Education Intern
Jason was born and raised here in the Pacific Northwest. Hailing from the Long Beach Peninsula at the mouth of the Columbia River, he has long had a love for aquatic life and ecology. A recent graduate of Huxley College at Western Washington University, he has studied Environmental Education and now has a Bachelor’s of Arts in this subject accompanied with a passion for interpreting the natural world. He has worked in the past at Cape Disappointment State Park as a Park Aide and as an Environmental Educator at the Marine Life Center in Bellingham, Washington. With a curiosity for the environment he constantly attempts to learn more about the creatures and plants around him. When not at work, Jason loves to hike, bike, and paddle anywhere he can while occasionally making the hills echo with the sounds of his trumpet. Known for his red beard, loud voice, and friendly demeanor, Jason is always ready with a smile and a fun fact for all he meets.
Lauren Beaudin, Science Education Intern
Lauren sprouts from several parts of the country; born in New Jersey, raised in Southern California, and attending UC Davis in Northern California. She fancies rocks and studies geochemistry, but majors in being outside. She loves biking, skiing, hiking, and frolicking throughout the world. Her favorite mineral is olivine. If not outside, Lauren can be found trying to cook or working on her rapping skills. She aspires to be a famous rhyme master. If that doesn’t work, she’ll probably attend graduate school.
Kyra Skaggs, Science Education Intern
Kyra’s favorite place to be is in the mountains. She has always lived in western Washington and she loves the Cascades. Her passion for nature and her love of backpacking led her to the field of Environmental Education. She is currently studying Environmental Education and Dance at Western Washington University. Her love of dance and the arts also informs her creative approach to education. In the future she hopes to specialize in wilderness education because wilderness has value and relevance that cannot be understood without firsthand experience.
Alex Taras, Guided Programs Assistant
Alex and his rat-tail hail from Cleveland, OH, where he graduated from Cleveland Institute of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. He is enthusiastic about service, system, experience and outdoor gear design. He has been tromping through the midwestern deciduous woodlands since birth and eventually attained the rank of Eagle Scout. To this day, Alex finds that he has his most stimulating life experiences while actively exploring the outdoors. He enjoys mountain biking, shredding the gnar, hiking, backpacking, swimming in cold mountain lakes and streams, climbing, and looking at the sky at night. Alex is an experienced backpacking guide with a passion for educating his clients about the environment they are encountering. He has also attained his Wilderness First Responder Certification in order to act quickly and effectively in the case of a medical emergency on the trail.