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High Plains Environmental Center

Our Staff

Jim Tolstrup

Jim Tolstrup

Executive Director

Jim Tolstrup is the Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland, CO, a unique model for preserving native biodiversity in the midst of development.  His past work experience includes serving as Land Stewardship Director of Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, CO and running his own landscape design business in Kennebunkport, Maine where he installed gardens at George and Barbara Bush’s “Summer White House.”

Jim holds a Certificate in Gardening Arts from the Landscape Institute of Harvard University and the Arnold Arboretum, he has written numerous articles on gardening and environmental stewardship for various publications, and is a past recipient of Denver Water’s Xeriscape Award, ALCC’s Excellence in Landscaping Merit Award, ASLA Land Stewardship Award and the Sustainable Living Association’s Sustainable Contribution Award.

Growing up in an urban environment near Boston, MA, Jim had to “look hard to find nature.” This background has led to a strong sense of empathy for people, and children in particular, who don’t have access to the restorative qualities of nature in their daily lives.

Jim is personally committed to bringing together people with diverse points of view (environmentalists, business people, and other community members) in an inclusive dialogue about preserving the natural world for future generations.

As a founder and former president of Cankatola Tiospaye, a non-profit that provides material assistance to Native American Elders, Jim has gained a perspective through life-long friendships with Native Americans living on reservations in South Dakota and elsewhere, that the land we live on is much more than a commodity, it is a community of which mankind is an integral part. Read Jim’s Blog Here

 

Pam Sunderland

Pam Sunderland

Community Outreach & Programs Manager

Pam came to Colorado in late 2019 from Georgia after serving as a conservation land-use consultant and program director for over 10 years.  She has worked in various roles with local, state, and federal governments and conservation organizations, local communities, developers, and landowners  to cross-pollinate public and private interests in the restoration, conservation, and stewardship of natural lands.  She has also participated in and led many volunteer stewardship programs. Pam studied marketing and public relations at the University of Baltimore, and completed the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership Program, the Georgia Master Naturalist Program, and the Leopold Land Ethic Leaders Program.  Pam lives in the Centerra community with her husband, Doug, and began working with HPEC in early 2020 as a volunteer, helping in the gardens and greenhouses. She is excited to now join the HPEC staff in connecting the community with nature through outreach and education. Pam has two grown daughters and enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, nature photography, kayaking, or any excuse to be in nature.

 

Email: info@suburbitat.org

Sabrina Kershman

Sabrina Kershman

Horticulture Manager

Sabrina joined HPEC as a seasonal gardener in April of 2020 and assumed the Horticulture Manager position in January of 2021. She manages the horticulture program at the HPEC Visitor’s Center including the nursery and demonstration gardens, as well as the gardens and natural areas at Chapungu Sculpture Park.

She has experience and education in a wide range of horticulture practices including educational propagation, landscaping, and design. She is also educated in irrigation, floral design, and integrated pest management (emphasizing bio-control methodology), within a horticultural therapeutic environment. Sabrina specializes in Public Horticulture with experience in parks, open space, and municipalities, including Front Range Community College Westminster Campus, the City of Thornton’s Horticulture Department, and The Horticulture and Grounds department at the Denver Zoo, and others. As a Colorado native her knowledge includes adapting horticulture practices to the many Colorado micro-climates and growing zones. 

In her off-time Sabrina enjoys going to the gym, any form of vehicle racing, concerts, movies, and let’s not forget the Colorado great outdoors.

 

Kristin Oles

Kristin Oles

Restoration Ecologist & Project Manager

 

Kristin is the Restoration Ecologist & Project Manager at HPEC. Kristin is a Colorado native and grew up in Pueblo. She graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Rangeland Ecology with a concentration in Restoration Ecology and a B.S. in Fishery Biology in 2011. She moved further west and earned her M.S degree in Horticulture and Agronomy with a focus on Rangeland Ecology from the University of California, Davis in 2016. Kristin is very excited to be back in Colorado and looks forward to helping HPEC bring people closer to their natural surroundings. She enjoys crocheting, drawing, and scouting for invasive weeds on hikes

 

Email: land@suburbitat.org

Jack Van Vleet

Jack Van Vleet

Lead Field Technician

 

Jack Van Vleet is the Lead Field Technician for our Open Space Management programs. He is a graduate of Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in Rangeland Ecology and minors in Ecological Restoration and Conservation Biology. As a lifelong Northern Colorado resident, Jack has a passion for the ecology and management of the Front Range’s unique habitats and plant communities. When he’s not identifying grasses and wildflowers he is lounging at a brewery with his dogs.