Heather Campbell Chaney Fellowship

© Greg Frozley


2019 - Espy Thomson

In the summer of 2019, I worked at Palmer Land Trust as the Heather Campbell Chaney Environmental Fellow. I had the privilege of spending 50 days walking stunning public and private properties, reading about ecology and plants, drafting communications that were meaningful to me and meeting amazing people in the Colorado conservation and nonprofit world. Up until this point, my academic life and career aspirations had focused on health and creative work. This fellowship gifted me with the compelling experience of a deep dive into the environmental and nonprofit worlds. Through the work I did at Palmer, I learned the importance of keeping lands open and also the importance to non-profits of professional organization and communication.  Through the days spent on the lands of southern Colorado, I have become enamored. I return now to school thinking a lot about what roles I can prepare to play in supporting the environment, and determined to become more involved in land rights and environmental efforts in local communities. I’m so appreciative of the Campbell family’s commitment to supporting young adults, who like their late daughter, Heather, are deeply committed to the environment, conservation and education.


2018 - Hannah Pardee

It has been a year since I worked at the Palmer Land Trust, and I regard it as a valuable time in my life.  It has connected me with Southern Colorado in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. Being a student at Colorado College means that I spend at least 70% of my time on campus during the school year.  For me, a large part of having a sense of place is understanding the local flora and fauna, and thanks to my explorations and the help of Amber, I have that connection and a knowledge of the state that extends beyond my two-block section of Colorado Springs.

Some of my highlights from the internship were visiting Elephant Rock, a stunning property with wonderful views and a deep sense of peace, the Paint Mines, where I saw a herd of pronghorns galloping over the hills, and the Manitou Springs properties, where I have since brought my friends to hike.  However, my favorite trip was to Cuchara Valley with Candice. Several generations of my family lived in this valley and I felt blessed to have the chance to connect with my personal history here. Candice and I were both stunned by the beauty of this place. The lush green, the dikes, and the rivers all made us exclaim in wonder.  My final highlight was working with Candice, who is a gem of a human being.

I am now in my senior year at Colorado College.  I do think after I graduate I would like to follow a trajectory that is related to my work at the Land Trust.  I have been thinking that I would like to be a park ranger with the Nation Park Service for a few years, so that I can be outside and learn about natural history.  So I thank the Heather Campbell Chaney Fellowship for giving me a taste of this work.


2017 - Lily Weissgold

I was the Heather Campbell Cheney Fellow at Palmer Land Trust in 2017. Outside of the incredible opportunity to both work in land conservation and explore the outdoors during the summer, the Fellowship had a profound impact on my time in Colorado Springs. Today, I am a rising senior at Colorado College double majoring in Economics and Environmental Policy. Additionally, I serve on both the Trails, Parks and Open Space Working Committee for the city of Colorado Springs and the Board of Directors for the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. Both of these incredible and rewarding experiences would not have happened without the connections made and understanding gained during my time at Palmer. I have spent every summer since my Fellowship in Colorado Springs and feel that I live here as much a citizen as a college student. It’s difficult for me to enumerate all the ways that the Fellowship impacted my life, in fact, I’m sure it will continue to for years to come. What I can say is that my career trajectory and undergraduate experience were fundamentally changed by the generosity of the Campbell family and the kind, welcoming, and competent people I spent my summer with at Palmer Land Trust. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this phenomenal opportunity- what a wonderful way to honor Heather’s legacy.


2016 - Laurel Sebastian

I held the HCCE fellowship with Palmer Land Trust in 2016 after graduation from Colorado College. After four years of getting to know the local conserved parks, I absolutely loved being able to explore the hidden gems of conserved private land throughout the Palmer Land Trust region. My fellowship gave me so many diverse experiences, from identifying noxious weeds to mapping future conservation corridors to exploring how Boards of Directors function. I learned about the power of private land conservation and what huge impacts a few individuals dedicated to conservation can make. It certainly gave me confidence and skills upon which to build my career. Since the fellowship, I’ve continued to pursue my career in environmental science and conservation, specifically in environmental education. After working in research and education with Mountain Studies Institute for two years, I recently moved back to my home state of California. I’m thrilled to start my position as Lead Program Manager at KIDS for the BAY in Berkeley, CA this fall after leading their summer programs all season. I am forever grateful for the Campbell family for helping jumpstart my life after college, and for their legacy of positive environmental impact. 


2015 - Olivia Chandrasekhar

Olivia Chandrasekhar is originally from Evanston, Ill., she was drawn to Colorado—and Palmer Land Trust—because of her love for the outdoors. There she loved learning about the stories of protected natural areas in southeastern Colorado, both before and after they were involved with Palmer. In her free time, Olivia likes to hike, backpack and rock climb.

She graduated from Colorado College with a major in mathematics and is now working as a data analyst at Lexidyne.


2015 Winter - Ellen Kerchner

As a Colorado Springs native, I can't say enough good things about both the Palmer Land Trust and the Catamount Institute. Both organizations work to promote the conservation and understanding of our natural environment in the Pikes Peak region from two crucial directions. I love that the Catamount Institute helps children develop a connection to the natural world while the Palmer Land Trust helps people who have already made a deep connection to place conserve their properties in perpetuity. The fact that Charlie thought to join these two organizations within the Heather Campbell Chaney Fellowship is incredible and underscores his and his daughter's understanding that the success of conservation in today’s world necessitates both approaches. For my part, being able to work within a land trust was a magnificent opportunity, especially in Colorado where getting a land trust job can be very difficult. Seeing the inner workings of the trust and understanding the ways in which land can be preserved through land trusts gave me a deeper appreciation for the power of conservation easements. I feel so grateful for this opportunity and I look forward to continuing to follow the progress of conservation in our region as a result of your efforts, Charlie! While I am currently flower farming and no longer working in that field, I know that once I find my forever farm, I will ensure that it  finds its way into a conservation easement for the benefit of future generations. 

After two years of vegetable farming in the Pikes Peak region I am now flower farming in Colorado Springs. I have also teamed up with a local business, A Grazing Life, to host farm-to-table dinners at local farms and ranches to highlight the amazing local foods grown in this region. I hope to highlight our local farming and natural communities by bringing nature into people's homes through my bouquets, serving people delicious meals crafted by local chefs with local ingredients and showingpeople that it is possible to live and eat seasonally. 


2014 - Eva Grant

My Heather Campbell Chaney Environmental Fellowship was an important part of my professional development as well as my personal development. With my fellowship at the Palmer Land Trust, I had the opportunity to get to know Colorado better and see the diverse conservation initiatives that help our state flourish. Interviewing cantaloupe farmers in Rocky ford and ranchers on the far side of Pikes Peak opened my eyes to the span of conservation and how vital it is to get more people involved. After my time as a fellow, I feel more connected to Colorado and to conservation and could not be more grateful. Thank you, Mr. Campbell, for giving me this unique opportunity and changing my perspective on the Colorado West forever. As an extension of that connection to the open spaces of Colorado, I feel closer to your daughter, Heather, and am honored to be a part of her legacy.