About Palmer Land Trust

© Greg Frozley


Rebecca Jewett

President and Chief Executive Officer

Since 2014, Rebecca Jewett has been the Chief Executive Officer of Palmer Land Trust. She leads a dedicated and passionate staff in the conservation of southern Colorado’s working farms and ranches, waterways, outdoor recreation, and iconic scenic landscapes. With over a decade of experience in the outdoor and conservation fields, she has overseen the planning, management, and implementation of countless environmental restoration, stewardship, and conservation projects working with government agencies, stakeholders, and the public.

Her project experience includes permanent and largescale land conservation, recreation management, post-fire burn restoration, watershed health, habitat recovery, environmental education, and public engagement. Prior to joining Palmer Land Trust, Rebecca served as the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, a land stewardship organization based in Colorado Springs. She received her Master of Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy (MRLS) from the University of Denver and a BA in Political Science from Colorado College.

Rebecca serves on the boards of the Keep it Colorado and Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, as well as the Land Trust Alliance's National Land Trust Leadership Council. She was recognized by the Colorado Springs Business Journal as a Woman of Influence in 2016 and a a Girl Scouts of Colorado Woman of Distinction in 2017. As a 5th generation Coloradan, Rebecca is deeply passionate about protecting Colorado’s magnificent landscape and natural heritage. Her soul lives in the alpine and she is working on summiting Colorado’s 100 highest summits.

Candice Hall

Land Stewardship Manager

Candice merges her love for the open spaces of southern Colorado with her professional experience as a legal editor in the position of Director of Land Stewardship. She grew up transient—New York City, Sumatra, California and Belgium—but fell in love with Colorado during an internship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. She earned her JD at the University of California, in the bicycle-centric community of Davis, before moving to Colorado Springs. A community volunteer with a camera, a legal license, and dirt under her fingernails, Candice advocated for open space preservation, served on the original Hillside Ordinance Advisory Committee, and volunteers with the Pikes Peak Marathon, fire mitigation projects, and creek side cleanup efforts. She and her husband, a runner, raised their children in Colorado Springs, where music, theatre, and visual arts were richly complimented by farm to table initiatives, regional parks, abundant wildlife, skiing, rafting, fly fishing, backpacking, and daily awe across the vistas of southern Colorado. Candice joins Palmer dedicated to preserving this land-centric identity and quality of life for future generations.

Matthew Heimerich

Senior Advisor – Lower Arkansas Valley

After moving to Crowley County in 1987, Matt and his wife Karen purchased their first irrigated farm. The operation today has 320 acres of deeded and leased ground. Matt served three terms from 1999-2011 as one of Crowley County’s Commissioners. Upon leaving office, he accepted the position of land use administrator for the county. As a farmer, an elected official, and land use administrator, Matt has confronted the effects of large-scale dry-ups of irrigated lands firsthand. The present landscape is plagued with blowing dirt problems, weed proliferation, wildland fire concerns and small acreage management challenges. It is Matt’s hope that his association with Palmer Land Trust will facilitate creative and financially rewarding options for landowners who wish to keep their water rights on the farm forever. Matt and Karen enjoy spending time with friends and family at a family home in Vail Valley skiing and hiking.

Jeanine McColgan

Director of Operations and Finance

Jeanine began her love with nature in her childhood years growing up in New Jersey.  Abundant wooded areas and deep-rooted family farmlands were prevalent where she grew up.  She received her degree at UNC Charlotte where she subsequently honed her career and worked for an Italian woodworking equipment manufacturer for 22 years. After spending an exciting sabbatical living and working in Yellowstone National Park, her professional career in accounting and HR ultimately brought her to Colorado.  Here, she has been living her dream amongst the beautiful landscape, abundant wildlife, and forests where she enjoys hiking, sight-seeing, and cross-country skiing. Jeanine and her family make it a point to visit America’s National Parks as often as life will allow, along with Colorado’s regional parks and fascinating historic areas.  She enjoys music, playing the piano and singing choral music.  She currently spends much of her time as an Event and PR Coordinator for a favorite local band.  She has always been an advocate for land, wildlife, and environmental conservancy and is excited to now be on the frontlines for Southern Colorado as the Palmer Land Trust Director of Operations and Finance. 

Ed Roberson

Conservation Director

Ed’s background combines over 16 years of finance and real estate experience with a life-long love of open space and wild places. A North Carolina native, Ed moved West in 2005 to work in western ranch brokerage, representing a diverse set of clients including multigenerational ranching families, conservation groups, Fortune 500 companies, private equity funds, and ski resorts. Prior to joining Palmer, Ed served as an advisor, consultant, and board member for numerous Colorado land trusts, which solidified his passion for protecting western landscapes and communities. He holds both a BA in Economics and an MBA with a concentration in finance from Wake Forest University, giving him a quantitative, data-driven approach to conservation transactions. Away from the office, Ed can usually be found high in the mountains, trail running, camping, climbing, fishing, and hiking with his wife and two young daughters—or voraciously reading history and hosting the Mountain & Prairie Podcast.

Amber Shanklin

Conservation Director

Amber joined Palmer Land Trust in 2015, bringing with her over a decade of conservation and ecological experience. She currently oversees conservation easement transactions and manages the organization’s GIS program. Born and raised in the Midwest, hiking, camping, xc skiing, and visiting Wisconsin's many lakes sparked an early love of the outdoors. Amber has diverse professional experience in the conservation world; she has worked for The Nature Conservancy, Fish and Wildlife Service, BLM, Colorado State University, the Great Basin Institute, and Rocky Mountain Field Institute. Amber has a master’s degree in ecology from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology and wildlife from the University of WI – Stevens Point.

Kristie Nackord

Communications and Fundraising

Kristie lives in western Fremont County and is charged with directing communications, community engagement and fundraising activities at Palmer. Her passion is to help conservation and water organizations enhance their strategy and tactics for impact. Kristie has worked with land trusts across the West, and currently is the program manager for the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, a 501 (c)3 non-profit that serves as a conduit for information about the Arkansas River Basin and for issues related to water allocation and management. She has her Bachelors of Arts in Economics from Sonoma State University and brings 25-years of business development, strategic communications, outreach, fundraising and community engagement to the team.

Emma Vawter

Philanthropy Manager

From a childhood spent in the field with her father in pursuit of rare birds to her work teaching fifth graders about ecology as an outdoor educator, a love of nature, recreation and wild places has been a constant in Emma’s life. Emma brought experience from early in her career at the Wilderness Society to Colorado as a Field Instructor and Communications Coordinator at Cal-Wood Education Center in Boulder County, where she shared her enthusiasm for nature with children from all across the Front Range. She joined Palmer Land Trust after a fun detour at the Brewers Association, where she served as a Membership Coordinator and worked to build relationships with and serve over 8,000 craft breweries across the U.S. Emma loves being back where she truly belongs in conservation and her role connecting other passionate people with opportunities to make an impact by supporting Palmer Land Trust. Emma has a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University and a Master’s in Music from CU Boulder. In her free time, she can be found reading every book she can get her hands on, singing opera, and hitting the trails with her favorite fluffy running partner.

Ashlee Sack

Communications Coordinator

Growing up playing in the Salinas River in California, Ashlee was eventually drawn to the small town of Cañon City via the Arkansas River in 2004. As a whitewater rafting guide and then a teacher in Florence, CO, Ashlee received her first introduction to the nuances, intricacies, complexities, and joys of life in rural Colorado. Ashlee graduated from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in English, and later the University of Northern Colorado with a Masters of Arts degree in English Literature. Since 2015, she has worked with Fremont Adventure Recreation, a Fremont County non-profit which seeks to promote a culture of health and wellness by hosting athletic events, building trail systems (which she then enjoys with her husband and two sons, 6 and 7), and advocating for responsible use of public lands. She is elated to join the Palmer Land Trust team and participate in further community engagement opportunities.

Stephanie Chatman

Office Coordinator

Raised in Orange County, California, Stephanie often found solace along the beaches and scenic stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway. Her desire to help others began at an early age and contributed to her decision to serve as a military police officer for the United States Army for three years. She has lived and travelled all across the US and European countries. In addition to serving her country, Stephanie has also achieved a bachelor’s degree in Business and Psychology from the University of Maryland University College and also a Masters of Business Administration from Colorado Technical College. The beauty of Colorado’s natural landscapes drew her to this area and also served as the impetus for her application to Palmer Land Trust. As a mother of three, Stephanie recognizes the importance of preserving our most precious natural resources for future generations.

Lee Derr

Contract Land Steward

Lee has always loved natural landscapes. His early years were influenced by the rich soils of the Pennsylvania Piedmont and the ancient craggy pinnacles of the Appalachians. Wanderlust and the expansiveness of the west, as well as skiing western powder, enticed Lee to complete a Bachelor’s of Science from the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, CSU-Fort Collins, and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Integrated Natural Sciences, Colorado College. He has spent more than thirty years in private and public science education, most recently working as a science curriculum specialist at Colorado College. He has visited conservation easements for Palmer Land Trust for 15 years and served on the Board of Trustees for four years. Lee vividly remembers his first Palmer property visit, sharing a property walk and stories of the land with 4th generation rancher, Robert. Currently, he is also a board member of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

Ken Hanes

Contract Land Steward

A Colorado native, Ken has a life-long love of the outdoors. A grandson of a Cripple Creek miner, he was born and raised in Colorado Springs. Ken skied and hiked as a child and developed a passion for mountain biking as a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Later, he became a private pilot like his father. Ken returned to Colorado Springs to start a business—AGL Drone Services, which provides "Solutions With Altitude"—and to raise his own family.  In 2017, he began working with Palmer Land Trust to explore the potential of drone technology and its effectiveness for “visiting” conservation easement properties. As a licensed drone professional and technologist, Ken has pioneered “aerial solutions” that give Palmer Land Trust unique and comprehensive perspectives of conserved properties.

Melissa McCormick

Contract Land Steward

Prior to beginning her career as a park ranger, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from St. Mary's College of Maryland, and a Master of Science in Natural Resource-Based Recreation from Virginia Tech. As a college student, she spent five summers working for the Boy Scouts of America in New Mexico and developed a love for the Front Range of the Rockies. In 2013, she and her family moved to Colorado Springs, and she took a full-time position as a natural resource specialist for the City of Colorado Springs Parks Department from 2014-2017. Today, Melissa currently balances her conservation work with "mom duties" and volunteer jobs and serves on the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. In 2019 she served, for her first time, as a contract land monitor in the Pikes Peak Region. She is a certified interpretive guide and a Leave No Trace trainer who brings weed management expertise to the Palmer team. As a seasoned professional and a parent, Melissa recognizes the importance of conserving land to protect southern Colorado’s scenic backdrop, recreational opportunities, and clean water.

Rick Romano

Contract Land Steward

For 44 years, Rick’s professional career was focused on conserving soil and water resources as a Soil Scientist, Soil Conservationist, and District Conservationist. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and a major in Soil Science.He began his career at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, moved to a Michigan Soil and Water Conservation District, and finished with a long stint with the USDA Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service in Colorado. Based in southeastern Colorado, he learned of the work Palmer was doing—its efforts to conserve working agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, majestic scenery and properties of historical significance—and resolved to inquire about part-time opportunities with Palmer when he retired from the NRCS.  Rick joined Palmer to serve as a contract land monitor in 2015 and returns every year (even after an end-of-season ski injury) for the privilege of visiting the exceptional properties that Palmer protects and their owners who share his love of Colorado.