About Us

Wilderness Louisville, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2013 with a mission to be champions for Louisville’s natural areas, from Jefferson Memorial Forest, the nation’s largest municipally-owned urban forest, to the ones in your neighborhood. We work in partnership with the Louisville Metro Government’s Department of Parks and Recreation to promote the development, stewardship and community awareness of these important public spaces.

Mission Statement

We are champions for Louisville’s natural areas from Jefferson Memorial Forest, the nation’s largest city-owned urban forest, to the ones in your neighborhood.

About Us - Forest Staff

What We’ve Done

Wilderness Louisville is proud to say that in 2019 our support helped Natural Areas staff provide nearly 5,000 youth with critical connections to nature. That’s just one example of how this partnership between Wilderness Louisville, Inc. and Louisville Metro Government is advancing the public  good. To view our 2019 annual report which outlines our progress made during the year, please click the  link below.

Meet the Wilderness Louisville Board of Directors

These individuals dedicated their time in service of protecting and enhancing natural areas for enjoyment by all.  Interest in doing the same?  Reach out to us at admin@wildernesslouisville.org!

Andy Reynolds
Andy ReynoldsChair
Waste Management
Government Affairs Manager
Vicki Welch
Vicki WelchVice-Chair
Louisville Metro Government
Retired
Kendall Boyd
Kendall BoydEquity Officer
Louisville Metro Government
Chief Equity Officer
Charlotte Caldwell
Charlotte CaldwellTreasurer
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
Membership Manager
Patricia Tennen
Patricia TennenSecretary
KY Youth Advocates
Chief Office of Strategic Initiatives
Tom Armstrong
Tom ArmstrongMember
KY State Government
Retired
Sharon BondMember
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Retired Program Manager
Krista Drescher-Burke
Krista Drescher-BurkeMember
Drescherbee, LLC
Program Evaluator and Grants Consultant
Chuck Haddaway
Chuck HaddawayMember
Portland Christian School
Athletics Director
Johnique IsonMember
Center for Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Liaison
JoAnn James
JoAnn JamesMember
Education Administrator
Jenny Johnston
Jenny JohnstonMember
PRG Commercial
Business Development Manager, Property Advisers
Lynn Rippy
Lynn RippyMember
YouthBuild Louisville
Executive Director
Randal Strobo
Randal StroboMember
Strobo Barkley PLLC
Attorney
Erin Wagoner
Erin WagonerMember
MSD
Environmental Partnerships Liaison
Bennett Knox
Bennett KnoxExecutive Director
Jefferson Memorial Forest
Parks Administrator
Dana Kasler
Dana KaslerEx-Officio
Louisville Parks and Recreation
Director

Meet Natural Areas/JMF Staff

These are the wonderful people that go above and beyond to create magic outdoors.  Interested in joining this team? Check out our careers page [coming soon]!

Bennett Knox
Bennett KnoxParks Administrator
Bennett received a B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation, followed by a M.E.M. at Duke University in Resource Ecology. He is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). When Bennett isn’t overseeing the day-to-day operations of the forest, he enjoys cooking ethnic cuisine, playing guitar, and keeping himself fluent in practicing his Russian.
Jessica Kane
Jessica KaneProgram Manager
Jessica received a degree in Environmental Studies from Eckerd College in Florida. Since receiving her degree, she has also received certifications in environmental education, First Aid/CPR, and scuba! When she’s not planning and coordinating the forest’s programs, she’s exercising, hiking, and gathering with her friends. When asked why she loves working for JMF; she stated that nature and environmental education have always been a part of my life. Watching children experience the forest for the first time and have immersive educational experiences is what drives her love for JMF. Promoting and advocating for equitable access to nature for everyone is also a personal passion. A fun fact that she shared is that in college she spent a month 10 miles down in the Grand Canyon living on the Havasupai Reservation.
Darik Ricketts
Darik RickettsGuest Services Supervisor
A previous Americorps Direct Service Member and JMF Seasonal, Darik’s addition to the JMF full time staff was a long time coming. Prior to working at the forest, Darik received a degree in environmental studies from Bellarmine University. As supervisor, he oversees the volunteer program and marketing of natural areas, manages the Welcome Center, organizes forest events and rentals, and oversees the cleanliness and accessibility of our park locations. When not at the forest, he enjoys backpacking and hiking. When asked why he loves JMF he stated that it’s the best place near Louisville to explore the wilderness and conduct outdoor recreation.
Bryan Lewis
Bryan LewisLand Management Supervisor
Bryan attended the University of Louisville, where he received a Bachelor’s in zoology, and a Master’s in ecology. In addition to his degrees, he is a certified trail master and pesticide applicator, and holds a certification for ArcGIS. When he’s not keeping Louisville’s parks beautiful and fighting off pesky invasive plant species, he enjoys crafting and gardening. When asked for a fun fact about himself, he told us that it took him 12 years to finish college., which is as much time as it takes all of us to finish regular schooling . When asked why he loves JMF, Bryan stated that the forest is just all around “great”—great staff, great hiking, and great programs.
Madison Carter
Madison CarterMaintenance Supervisor
Madison graduated with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration. While in graduate school Madison worked three seasons with the National Park Service, working as a backcountry ranger and in visitor services. As the full-time Maintenance Supervisor, Madison ensures the Natural Areas parks are safe, clean, and operating efficiently. When not working at the Forest, Madison loves to hike, kayak, brew beer, forage, and garden.
John Studer
John StuderPark Supervisor
John joined the forest after graduating from the University of Missouri. He works in our land management department, conserving protecting the forest against invasive species and erosion. When not working, John enjoys hiking, golfing, and traveling, and is also an experienced sailor. When asked why he loves JMF, John stated that his appreciation stemmed from the forest’s size and accessibility to the population.
David Grissom
David GrissomRecreation Supervisor
David attended Murray State University, where he received degrees in recreation and leisure studies with an emphasis on outdoor recreation. In addition to his degrees, David is certified in First Aid/CPR and is an American Canoe Association Level 2 River Instructor. As the recreation supervisor, David trains, schedules, and supervises seasonal and full-time staff for the programs department. When David isn’t working at the forest, he enjoys cooking, backpacking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. A fun fact about David is that he was once the drummer in his high school’s Ska band! When asked why he loves JMF, he stated that the forest has many recreation options for the citizens of Louisville, which is rare for urban areas.
Christa Weidner
Christa WeidnerNaturalist
Christa graduated from Bellarmine University with a major in math and a minor in biology. At the forest, her main responsibilities are the Environmental Education programs and ECHO school program. She also oversees the education animals, Environmental Education Center, Nature Explore Classroom and Nature Play Areas. When she’s not overseeing the forest’s outstanding education program, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, baking, and birding. A fun fact that she wishes the world to know is that she studied wildlife management in Kenya. Christa’s love of the forest stems from her first job at JMF as a seasonal employee. It was here that she quickly discovered that she wanted to be in the field of Environmental Education. Christa continued in the field for several years before she was lucky enough to come back to JMF as a full time Naturalist. Little did she know how much impact working at JMF would have on her life. She met her husband here, and has since had two beautiful children and has met many wonderful people along the way. All because of a seasonal position she accepted years ago.
Brandon Hill
Brandon HillCommunity Outreach Specialist
Brandon is a recent returnee to the city of Louisville after living in Cincinnati for a number of years. Professionally, he has been a multimedia content creationist who has a passion for telling stories and enjoying the fantastic outdoors. He feels extremely fortunate to be a part of a team that is creating experiences and access to nature. As the Community Outreach Specialist, his goal is to connect our community with resources and recreation that will benefit people’s mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being.
Ginny Delaney
Ginny DelaneyNaturalist
Ginny received a Bachelors in special education and learning and behavior disorders at Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky. She then went on to receive her Master’s in elementary education from the University of Louisville. In addition to her degrees, she has certifications in environmental education and interpretation. Her full name is Virginia Talbott Delaney, and she is named after her grandfather, who owned the famous Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky!
Gene Underwood
Gene UnderwoodPark Worker
Gene has been with our Parks department for quite some time. When he’s not helping coordinate maintenance of the park, he enjoys home remodeling and fishing. A fun fact about Gene is that he collects knives, and when asked why he loves the forest, he stated he liked the forest because he loved his job.
Allison Nofziger
Allison NofzigerHorticultural Worker
Allison received her bachelor’s degree from Trine University in Indiana. She is our newest staff member at the forest, working with our Land Management Staff to remove invasive species and keep our forest beautiful! In addition, she is certified in wilderness first aid. When she’s not working at the forest, she enjoys hiking, reading, and travelling (she’s visited Germany, Italy, and Mexico). When asked why she loves JMF, she said she appreciated the forest’s dedication to the conservation of natural resources.
Autumn Costelle
Autumn CostelleRecreation Coordinator
Autumn received dual degrees in Environmental Science and Animal Studies. She is also a certified interpretive guide. Besides coordinating all the outdoor recreation and environmental education programs for the forest, she enjoys hiking, yoga, and traveling with her family. When she’s not hiking, she sings Disney songs to entertain herself. So, if you hear a Disney princess out in the forest, it’s probably Autumn!. When asked why she loves JMF, she stated that she’s passionate about JMF’s mission of getting kids access to nature.
Kris Davenport
Kris DavenportPark Worker
Another vital member of our parks staff is Kris Davenport, who also conducts maintenance on our Parks facilities. When he’s not working at the forest, Kris enjoys building and modifying firearms. A fun fact about Kris is that he has 6 kids! When asked why he loves the forest, he stated that he loves nature, and the job allows him to be in an environment he loves.
Spencer Hawkins
Spencer HawkinsPark Worker
Spencer graduated from the University of Louisville in 2021, and shortly thereafter joined the Natural Areas team. Spencer previously worked at Camp Piomingo leading camp groups and assisting in turf management. Spencer thinks the forest is such a great place for everyone in Louisville and the surrounding areas to visit, and is excited to work in a place everyone loves so much.
Mark Chaffins
Mark ChaffinsForester I
Mark is an I.S.A. Certified Arborist, a Kentucky Certified Nurseryman, and is a licensed pesticide applicator. He spends his free time studying the guitar and cycling with Vicki his wife of 29 years.
Josh Horton
Josh HortonHorticultural Park Worker
Josh received a B.S in biology with an ecology focus from the University of Louisville in 2018. He has worked seasonally with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, as a conservation educator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and has now joined the Parks and Recreation team to help maintain and conserve natural areas in Louisville. He is certified in first-aid/CPR, as a wildland firefighter, and as a non-commercial pesticide applicator. Outside of work, Josh enjoys video games and movies, but also outdoor recreation and traveling, local and abroad. Josh believes that Jefferson Memorial Forest and Louisville’s Metro Parks provide an exceptional opportunity for residents of an urban area to get outdoors and experience and appreciate nature.