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Our Team - Backcountry Wilderness Area

Mark Giebel, Director

If you’re curious about the nooks and crannies of the Backcountry Wilderness Area, ask Mark. He started as a lifeguard with the HRCA in 1993, began conducting research in the Backcountry in 2001, and became the director of the Backcountry Wilderness Area in 2006.

  • Born & Raised: Lone Tree, Colorado
  • Educated: Trinity University San Antonio, Texas: Biology
  • Where He Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Outdoors with his wife
  • He Did What?!?: Studied ecology in Ecuador for a semester in college

[email protected]  |  303-471-8885 

AnnaKate Hein, Environmental Education Program Supervisor

Most often spotted with a troop of young explorers around Backcountry’s Base Camp, AnnaKate oversees all of the Backcountry’s environmental education programs including Wild Roots and Camp Backcountry.

  • Born & Raised: Athens, Georgia
  • Educated: University of Georgia: Political Science, minor in both Music and Environmental Ethics; Vermont Law & Graduate School: Masters in Environmental Law and Policy
  • Where She Can be Found Outside the Backcountry: River rafting, camping, and exploring with her husband and son 
  • She Did What?!?: Studied marine ecology and human environmental impacts as a study abroad program in Antarctica

[email protected]  |  303-471-8876 

Lindsey McKissick, Communications Manager & Backcountry Wilderness Area Fund Principal Officer

Look for Lindsey connecting with the community at Base Camp, giving UTV tours, and raising awareness and funds for the Backcountry Wilderness Area Fund. She guides the communication and fundraising efforts to ensure wildlife continue to enjoy a haven of habitat and close-to-home nature experiences invite people of all ages to experience the magic of wild places.

  • Born & Raised: Colorado & Illinois
  • Educated: University of Wyoming: BA in Journalism; Masters in Communication
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Exploring, rafting, camping, and mountain biking with her husband, two daughters, and pup
  • She Did What?!?: Interviewed pro athletes like Yao Ming, Nolan Arenado, & Von Miller in her former life as a sports reporter.

[email protected]  |  303-471-7076 

Gus Brunger, Property Maintenance Coordinator

If it needs built or fixed in the Backcountry Wilderness Area, Gus is on it.

  • Born & Raised: Castle Rock, Colorado
  • Educated: Colorado State University: Natural Resource Recreation & Tourism
  • Where He Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Fly-fishing, hunting, and camping with his wife and three sons
  • He Did What?!?: Played lacrosse for 14 years

[email protected]  |  303-471-7042  

Abby DeGroot, Equine Program Supervisor 

A Colorado Native and lover of the outdoors, you can find Abby hiking with her dog, Duke, or fly fishing. Abby has been riding horses since she was three years old and is thrilled to share her passion for horses with the community!

  • Born & Raised: Centennial, Colorado
  • Educated: University of Missouri: Psychology; University of Colorado: Masters of Outdoor Recreation Economy
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Hiking with her dog or Fly Fishing
  • She Did What?!?: Helped foal out quarter horses and standardbreds

[email protected]  |  303-471-7046  

Becca Venable, Environmental Education Coordinator

You'll find Becca responding to "Meemaw" year-round as she is one of the directors of Camp Backcountry. With the Backcountry since 2018, she loves overseeing a camp that prioritizes getting kiddos into the outdoors while experiencing the joys of a camp atmosphere. 

  • Born & Raised: Orange County, California
  • Educated: Colorado State University: Human Dimensions of Natural Resources & Conservation Biology
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Paddle boarding, camping, snowboarding, at a wedding (or 7), at sporting events, and enjoying breweries with her pup
  • She Did What?!?: Has been watching and tracking wolves in Yellowstone every year since 2006

[email protected]  |  303-471-7054

Ellen Dolph, Environmental Education Coordinator

When in doubt, look for Ellen hanging out with the Base Camp chickens. Whether tending to the Base Camp farm animals, cultivating the garden, co-managing camp activities, or organizing and instructing youth and community programs throughout the Backcountry Wilderness Area, Ellen wears many hats … and chickens on her shoulder.

  • Born & Raised: Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Educated: University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Fisheries and Wildlife, Environmental Studies, minors in Grasslands Ecology and Management, Environmental Education; University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point: Masters in Environmental Education and Interpretation
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Hiking, camping, taking her cats on walks
  • She Did What?!?: Spent a summer in remote Namibia teaching about sustainability and wildlife

[email protected]  |  303-471-7053

Mia Phillips, Backcountry Wilderness Area Communications Coordinator

Mia has a knack for crafting compelling campaigns and turning ideas into impactful narratives. You will find her running programs at Base Camp, steering our social media presence, orchestrating email campaigns, and navigating the ever-changing digital realm.

  • Born & Raised: Hillsborough, North Carolina
  • Educated: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Business Administration with a concentration in marketing
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Climbing, playing tennis & soccer, cooking, or hiking with her boyfriend and two pups
  • She Did What?!?: Volunteered on farms across Europe for a year. Tasks included birthing calves in Ireland, making black current liqueur in the Austrian Alps, hiking fjords in Norway, and making cappuccinos from a coffee cart in Italy

[email protected]  |  303-471-8883

Sami Dhainin, Program Administration Coordinator

Sami serves as the powerhouse of operational harmony, managing and coordinating various facets of our programs. From ensuring compliance to engaging with the community, she plays a pivotal role in facilitating the smooth functioning of the programming in the Backcountry Wilderness Area.

  • Born & Raised: Aurora, Colorado
  • Educated: Metropolitan State University of Denver: Bachelors in Recreation, Concentration in Outdoor Recreation
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Hiking, camping, exploring with her siblings
  • She Did What?!?: Played volleyball in college

[email protected]  |  303-471-7078

Hailze Setzer, Equine Program Coordinator

With an avid passion for horses and teaching, you can find Hailze spending time with her horse, teaching lessons, reading a book, or training her German shepherd, Elvis. Hailze lead our Camp Backcountry Horse Camp and is thrilled to be able to share her love and education of everything equine with campers!  

  • Born & Raised: : Colorado & New York
  • Educated: Colorado State University: Equine Science & Ag Business Management
  • Where She Can Be Found Outside the Backcountry: Horseback riding, teaching riding lessons, playing hockey, reading, writing, shooting, or dog training
  • She Did What?!?: Founded and owned an equestrian drill team 

[email protected]  |  303-471-7038

Contact Backcountry Wilderness Area Staff

Staff Phone Numbers

Mark Giebel: 303-471-8885
AnnaKate Hein: 303-471-8876
Gus Brunger: 303-471-7042
Lindsey McKissick: 303-471-7076
Mia Phillips: 303-471-8883
Becca Venable: 303-471-7054
Ellen Dolph: 303-471-7053
Abby DeGroot: 303-471-7046
Hailze Setzer: 303-471-7038
Sami Dhainin: 303-471-7078