pro-spotlight

Pro Spotlight: Jeffrey, Kelly, and Jessica

In the Pro Spotlight series, we highlight our Outdoor Prolink pros, the amazing individuals working in the outdoor industry every day. Pros guide, educate, train, mentor, and lead a wider audience in outdoor recreation. Their experience provides credible assessment of gear quality – they are, after all, the elite audience for whom it is designed.

Meet Jeffrey Evans, Senior Landscape Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy‘s Global Science team:

How are you involved in the outdoor industry?

I am a Senior Landscape Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy’s Global Science team. I conduct research on ecological systems, biodiversity and the impacts of anthropogenic development. Before I was a scientist with the Nature Conservancy, I was a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station and an Associate Professor at University of Idaho (RMRS Co-Op Unit). Through the years, I have had many graduate students and seasonal field crews that I actively worked with all across Idaho and Montana and since moving to TNC (13 years ago) and the University of Wyoming, my research has moved to the global stage.   

What is your favorite piece of gear?

Since I am no longer in my 20’s (or even close) comfort has become a bit more important in mitigating a lifetime of bodily abuse. Because of this my Exped DeepSleep pad has become a piece of essential, and much appreciated, gear. However, my Exped pad has to compete with my Winston LT fly rod. They are actually quite jealous of each other and not on speaking terms.      

What is the most unforgettable trip or adventure you’ve been on?

Oh, that’s a hard one. So many beautiful and unique ecological systems across the world, it is like comparing apples and oranges. I am a lifelong equestrian and a 15 day stretch packing into the Shasta Trinity Alps really stands out as a fond memory. It was also a bit nostalgic, representing the end of an era with the USFS maintaining pack stations. It was also my first time packing mammoth jacks (17 hand mules) and we may have brought along some really good scotch. But, early-career, I worked for the USFS-PNW Research Station doing habitat and spotted owl surveys in wilderness areas. Those 14-day stretches of backpacking into wilderness areas across Oregon and Washington really stuck with me.  

Tell us about your favorite gear shop.

There are several notable shops across the west but, the one I really want to single out is actually local. Basecamp in Laramie, WY is building a community model of outdoor retail and guiding. During the winter, they provide free weekly ski lessons to kids at a local park and run programs like “Little Laramie Hikers” that gets kids out hiking or snowshoeing year round. The owner is a member of several of the local community trail maintenance and public lands advocacy groups as well a founding member of Hike Like A Woman.      

What’s the greatest lesson nature/being outside has taught you

In a nutshell, humility. You have to respect nature, not only from a “leave no trace” perspective but from the realization that some of these landscapes can eat you alive and not even blink. As many of you know, it can be simultaneously empowering and humbling.   

What’s the one thing you want future outdoor enthusiasts to know?

Not to preach but, we are on the brink of disaster in many of these systems. Not only are we seeing widespread effects of anthropogenic development impacts and stress due to shifts in climate variation, we are also literally using these beloved landscapes to death. We are seeing unprecedented public use of our federal and state lands and the impacts are showing. We need to not only embrace the leave no trace ethic but, also build upon it, go one step further and teach as you go. Guides should not only be minimizing their impacts but also be thinking in novel terms like rotating impacts. A good example of this would be fishing, where local guides have the opportunity to work together and develop a plan where impacts are rotated through the river system they a guiding in rather than repeated use of the same productive stretch of river.     

Meet Kelly Greene, Director of Bryan Mountain Ski Patrol:

How are you involved in the outdoor industry?

Ski Patrol! I’m the Director of Bryan Mountain Ski Patrol and an Outdoor Emergency Care Instructor.

What is your favorite piece of gear?

In the winter, my BCA Link 2.0 Radio, in the summer, my Grayl Purifier water bottle.

What is the most unforgettable trip or adventure you’ve been on?

I also have two of these… My honeymoon trip to ski in Japan and rowing the Grand Canyon.

Tell us about your favorite gear shop.

I love The Trailhead in Buena Vista, CO. It’s a cool, small shop with a large variety of gear attached to a cafe.

What’s the greatest lesson nature has taught you?

The power of disconnecting from the “real world”. When being in nature, especially out of cell service, bonds and conversations are stronger, sleep is deeper, and a lot of the things I stress about in everyday life, like what people think of me or how I look, disappears.

What’s the one thing you want future outdoor enthusiasts to know?

Be a steward. Actively practice leave no trace and pick up after others. As more and more people enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, popular spots are getting overwhelmed with litter and human waste (yuck!) – this ruins it for everyone, so leave it better than you found it. And also, Have fun!

Meet Jessica McWhirt, Digital Marketing Specialist at Origin:

How are you involved in the outdoor industry?

I’m a Digital Marketing Specialist for Origin, a booking and scheduling platform for tour guiding businesses based in Denver, CO.

What is your favorite piece of gear?

My favorite piece of gear is my Scott Spark RC 900 Team Issue AXS Bike. I was hesitant to buy it at first, but I’m so glad I did. It makes climbing and descending so smooth and makes me fall in love with mountain biking every time I jump on it.

What is the most unforgettable trip or adventure you’ve been on?

The most unforgettable trip and adventure was traveling to Iceland in the winter with my husband. We explored the hot springs, black sand beaches, caves, glaciers, and snorkeled in a crack between two tectonic plates. It was unforgettable and we can’t wait to go back during the summer.

Tell us about your favorite gear shop.

My favorite gear shop is The Bikery At The Brewery in Littleton, CO. What was once my mountain bike team’s local bike shop has now expanded to include snowboards, standup paddleboards, and snowshoes. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t feel like a typical shop. It feels like you’re visiting your buddy’s house. They always greet you with a beer and tunes and we end up chatting for far too long.

What’s the greatest lesson nature has taught you

When I competed in my first mountain bike race, I was so afraid of descending that I wore through my brakes a lot faster than most. I’d feather them the whole way down descents that scared the hell out of me. And by squeezing my brakes, I actually made my bike less stable. Riding my mountain bike out in the woods has taught me to learn to go with the flow. Trying to work against nature (and gravity) never benefits you. Instead, you learn to trust your bike and what it’s made to do. You learn to work with the terrain and the weather and eventually, gain confidence that way.

What’s the one thing you want future outdoor enthusiasts to know?

The hardest part of becoming an outdoor enthusiast is starting. It’s a lot easier to talk yourself out of doing something for the first time. No adventure partners, no gear, no time, no idea where to go. Too often we needlessly overcomplicate things. It doesn’t have to be like that in the outdoors. Starting small is still a start.


We hope you enjoyed getting to know these pros as much as we did! If you’re a pro and want to be featured on our blog, shoot an email to [email protected]!

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro

Kelly Knauf is on the marketing team at Outdoor Prolink. When she’s not doing handstands, you’ll find Kelly camping, snowboarding, and grooving on the dance floor.

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