Meet our team

The land trust has grown over many years and initially was an all-volunteer staff.  Today, we have a group of wonderful, professional staff who work hard to get conservation done.

Gavin Ricklefs, Executive Director

Gavin has been a Hamilton resident for nearly 20 years and with BRLT, in various capacities, since 2006 – initially, as a member of the Board, eventually becoming Executive Director in 2008. He is a graduate of Whitman College and earned his J.D. at the University of Montana. A passion for cooperative, landowner-driven approaches to conservation, a fascination with the details of complex land transactions, and above all else a love for the Bitterroot Valley have been the forces driving Gavin’s work at BRLT. Gavin and his wife, Stacy, are the proud parents of three Montana natives: Andrew, Tatum, and Cate who have the great fortune to grow up in our incredible community.

This could be you, Conservation Specialist

Learn more about our current opening here.

Kori Anderson, Operations Manager

Kori joined BRLT as the Operations Manager in June of 2019. She is a fourth generation Montanan, raised on her family’s ranch in the heart of the Ruby Valley. She holds a degree from Montana State University in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. She first found her way to private land conservation through serving on Montana Land Reliance’s Future Montana Committee. Kori is committed to keeping working lands intact and preserving Montana’s legacy of open space. Her previous work includes working with landowners at the state level and lobbying on their behalf. When not at the office, you can usually find Kori outdoors–camping, fishing, hiking, skiing, and exploring new areas with her husband and dog.

Kyle Anderson, Stewardship Coordinator

Kyle joined the team as our Stewardship Coordinator in 2018. He monitors conservation easements, provides property management resources to landowners, and manages BRLT’s owned properties. After growing up in North Carolina’s sprawling suburbs, Kyle focused his career on conserving America’s remaining open space. His passion is to keep green spaces green, intact, and functioning. Kyle graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before completing his master’s research at Idaho State University, where he developed new technologies for monitoring rangeland vegetation. His work history includes forest preserve management for the University of Michigan, elk population research for Idaho Fish and Game, and timbering projects with the Bureau of Land Management. Kyle’s self-reliant, outdoor-centric lifestyle made the pristine landscapes and abundant wilderness access of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley an ultimate destination.

Kyle Barber, Conservation Director

Kyle first joined the Bitter Root Land Trust in 2009, as a temporary contractor supporting land projects. He later became BRLT’s first full-time project staff, and is now the Conservation Director. In this role, Kyle guides the strategic direction of BRLT’s land conservation and stewardship programs, while also coordinating and/or supporting land conservation and stewardship projects. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and the University of Montana, with a focus on agricultural land conservation and public policy. Kyle previously worked with the Crested Butte Land Trust in Colorado and Gathering Waters Conservancy in Wisconsin. Prior to finding his way into land conservation, Kyle worked on agricultural water issues in Nevada. Kyle hails from a small agricultural community in Wisconsin with many similarities to the Bitterroot. His experiences growing up, including the changing character of his hometown, inspired him to pursue a career that helps local people conserve what they cherish about their community, including the rural heritage, landscape, and economy of a place. In his free time, Kyle takes on more handiwork projects than he should and spends a lot of quality time laughing with his wife, Heather.

Melissa Odell, Conservation Project Manager

Melissa joined the BRLT team in 2020 as a Conservation Project Manager, where she has the pleasure of working directly with the Bitterroot families who choose to conserve their farms and ranches. She grew up in a small rural town in the Sierra Nevada mountains, exploring the outdoors on foot and horseback, spurring her love for all things wildlife and open space. Melissa holds a B.S. from Humboldt State University in Wildlife Biology with a minor in Zoology, as well as a M.S. in Avian Science from University of California, Davis . She comes from a diverse background of previous positions, including Sierra Foothill Conservancy, as well as other non-profits, state, federal, and private consulting.

Melissa is thrilled to call the Bitterroot Valley home and is grateful to be able to take part in conserving the heritage, wildlife, and way of life in this beautiful place. In her spare time, she can usually be found exploring trails and open space with her dogs.

Lauren Rennaker, Development Director

Lauren Rennaker has been a Bitter Root Land Trust team member since late 2017. She graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a B.A. in both International Studies and Spanish. A college internship at a non-profit organization galvanized her resolve to find a career where she can help make this world a better place. Lauren travelled extensively internationally before fulfilling a lifelong dream to move out west. The Bitterroot Valley, with its vast mountains, postcard-worthy views, clear-to-the-bottom river, and boundless opportunities to play out the back door made Lauren never want to leave. So she put down roots in the southern part of the Bitterroot in 2006 and has since been devoted to conserving the stunning land and wildlife that make it so special, and inspiring others to do the same. You can find Lauren loving this place and this way of life by reveling in the one-of-a-kind fly fishing, horseback riding, camping experiences, and working on a cattle ranch with her husband and their young twins – fifth-generation Bitterrooters.

Jenny West, Bookkeeper

Jenny West has been the Bitterroot Land Trust’s bookkeeper for over twelve years. She not only punches numbers, but also spends most of her time on the Bitterroot River as a Flyfishing outfitter and guide. Growing up in this valley, she has much respect for the landscape and recreates often on the trails and rivers.

Conserving the waters, wildlife habitat, and working farms and ranches of the Bitterroot Valley, with you