About Palmer Land Trust

Board of Trustees

Craig Larimer, Jr


Craig Larimer, Jr. is a Colorado Springs native whose father hails from Salida. He enjoys fly fishing and is currently secretary/treasurer of a homeowners’ association along the Tarryall River. Craig has a long association with Fountain Valley School of Colorado, as an alumnus and former board member, and retired as headmaster in 2013. Prior professional experience included capital markets business with banks in London and Chicago, and as a financial attaché and policy analyst with the U.S. Treasury. Craig holds a Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Bachelor’s degree from Pomona College, both in International Relations.

Nissa Steinhour

Vice President

Nissa brings over a decade of non-profit and land conservation experience to the Palmer Land Trust. Nissa worked for the Trust for Public Land for 7 years helping with conservation transactions, landscape planning efforts, and serving as the Southwest Conservation Finance Director where she worked across the inter-mountain West to help communities raise dedicated funds for park, trail and land conservation priorities. Most recently she worked for the Western Conservation Foundation on a project with the Nature Conservancy to encourage state investment for wildlife habitat conservation. With Colorado roots that go back five generations into Elbert County, Nissa has always felt a strong connection to the land. She currently lives in Colorado Springs and spends most of her time raising her three children.

Matthew Niznik


Matt Niznik, a Colorado Springs native, is an attorney with Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson. He received his undergraduate degrees and law degree from University of Colorado Boulder. Growing up in Colorado, Matt gained a true appreciation for and a desire to protect Colorado’s open spaces and biological diversity. He and his family enjoy hiking, backpacking and cycling throughout Colorado

Nancy Whitford


Nancy Whitford is a California native and 22-year resident of Colorado Springs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from San Jose State University, and has more than eleven years’ experience in fundraising for nonprofit organizations in Colorado Springs. Nancy has a great appreciation for Colorado’s beautiful landscape and is interested in helping protect open spaces for recreational purposes. She serves on the Incline Friends board, and the Old North End Neighborhood Intergenerational Village (ONEN iVillage) committee of the Innovations in Aging Collaborative. She enjoys attending arts events and performances, traveling, hiking, and running and walking in Monument Valley Park.

Mike Bartolo

Mike Bartolo is the Senior Research Scientist and Extension Vegetable Crops Specialist at Arkansas Valley Research Center. He was raised on a small irrigated farm east of Pueblo, Colorado, and owns farms and ranches in Otero, Crowley and Pueblo counties. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Bio-Agricultural Sciences and a Master’s degree in Horticulture from Colorado State University, and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of Minnesota. Mike has served on the boards of Hilltop Water Company in Rocky Ford, Rocky Ford Ditch Company, and the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch as Bessemer Ditch representative.

David Cockrell

David Cockrell holds a Ph.D. in forestry from the University of Idaho, along with Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught outdoor education and environmental studies at Virginia Tech, the University of North Carolina and Colorado State University—Pueblo. David left academia in 1997 for a second career in urban and regional planning, and his passion has always been sustainable community development. In 2008, he returned to higher education as Dean of Business and Technology at Pueblo Community College, and most recently as Associate Vice President of Instruction at Otero Junior College in La Junta. He has published books and papers on wilderness education and has served on the Boards of the Wilderness Education Association, Colorado Preservation, Inc. and the Packard Foundation Pueblo Advisory Board. David is a student of Zen Buddhism, and is an avid mountaineer, paddler and sailor.

Gary Conover

Gary Conover is a Colorado Springs native and self-employed real estate broker and developer. He attended Fountain Valley School, Denison University in Ohio, and received his Master’s degree in Psychology and Human Factors from New Mexico State University. He served as Palmer Land Trust’s President, Vice President and Treasurer during the 1990s and returned as President from 2004 to 2005. Gary founded and produced “Art for Land’s Sake” Invitational Art Show and Sale. Palmer hosted this unique fundraiser from 2007 to 2010. His hobbies include bird watching and collecting Van Briggle pottery.

Vanda Dyson

Vanda is the VP of Finance for Destination Pet, LLC. She is a CPA who has worked with many companies and non profit organizations as a CFO-for-hire and a financial consultant. Vanda is passionate about land conservation statewide and is the Treasurer of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trust (CCLT). She is a native Coloradan with deep roots in both the skiing and ranching communities. She lives in Golden with her husband and enjoys visiting her two boys often in Bozeman, Montana, where they attend Montana State University.

Jeanne Fenter-Snider

Jeanne Fenter-Snider is principal of a consulting firm and has served on the Colorado Tourism Office Board of Directors as a Member-at-Large. As Chairperson of the Canyons & Plains of Southeastern Colorado Regional Heritage Taskforce, she actively pursued funding and managed major programs to build capacity for heritage and agritourism in southeastern Colorado. She is involved with the development of Bent’s New Fort as an important site connecting the stories of Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, Boggsville, and the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic site, as well as implementing interpretive roadside signage for travelers throughout the region. She received her BA degree in History and Anthropology, followed by graduate work in Education from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is a retired career teacher who is committed to working for the preservation of Colorado open space lands. She is beginning her third term as a Palmer Trustee. In addition, she is co-chairman of the Pikes Peak Farm to School group, which is working actively to improve the nutritional level of school food in the region.

Dick Harwood

Dick Harwood is a retired banker who has lived in the Pikes Peak region since 1971. He is a graduate of The Hill School in Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, and holds a law degree from Duke University. He retired as Senior Vice President of Bank One (now JPMorgan Chase) in charge of trust, estate planning, and investment management services for southern Colorado. Dick has served on the boards of several civic and non-profit organizations in Colorado Springs and Denver. He has a keen interest in the history and archaeology of Colorado, and is currently the Associate Director of the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition.

John Knapp

John Knapp is a lifelong agriculturist and natural resource conservationist. He is part of a fourth-generation irrigated farm and working ranch near Rocky Ford. He also worked as a water management specialist, agronomist, and area conservationist with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service throughout Colorado, with special experience in the Arkansas River basin. John holds multiple degrees from Colorado State University in Agronomy and Agricultural Economics and has served on various community and education organizations that have been recognized for their accomplishments.

Jody McCoy

Jody McCoy grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, backpacking and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, and was instilled with a love of the land from an early age. He earned his M.A. in communications management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has spent his professional career in broadcasting. He is a past president of the National Association of Media Brokers, and is currently the president of the board of KCME 88.7 FM, the Pikes Peak regional classical music station. His association with the late Stu Dodge led to an interest in the work of Palmer Land Trust, and in the conservation easement that was ultimately placed on the Bear Creek Regional Park; he helped to raise funds as part of that easement process. He thoroughly enjoys hiking, bird hunting, and motorcycling in rural Colorado.

John Onstott

John Onstott is an owner at NAI Highland Commercial Group, a commercial real estate services firm in Colorado Springs. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a law degree from Washburn University School of Law. John grew up and worked on the family wheat and dairy farm in Kansas, and has a great appreciation of farmers and ranchers and the preservation of lands for future generations. A thirty-year resident of Colorado, his hobbies include hiking, biking, and skiing.

Linda Overlin

Linda Overlin is a fourth-generation Colorado native, with agricultural roots in the Arkansas Valley. She received a BS in Biology from the University of Colorado, and MS in Riparian Ecology from CSU Pueblo. After a career teaching high school chemistry, environmental science and biology, she currently works part time as a botanist and environmental consultant, and teaches field botany. Linda and her husband, David, have also been involved in ranch management. Palmer Land Trust has been a major volunteer focus for over 25 years.

John Poyzer

John Poyzer retired after 33 years with IBM, serving as a computer systems engineer, large systems salesperson and consultant doing energy-efficiency and computer optimization studies. He received a BS and ME in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University, and an MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa, where he was also on the Engineering College faculty. He is a US Navy veteran, has served as Treasurer of an Iowa family farm corporation, and on the Board of the Bear Creek Garden Association. From his youth until recently, he helped with all aspects of row-crop farming in his spare time, and is an avid vegetable gardener. He enjoys hot-air ballooning and playing his French horn in the New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs.