Board of Directors

These are the Volunteer Board of Directors.

Jim Kitchen, President

Jim Kitchen

Jim Kitchen, President

A former smokejumper with 20 years of experience jumping fires, Jim Kitchen has done over 250 jumps. He continues to instill in his children and the children in his life a sense of wonder in the natural world by journaling and sketching nature in their backdoors.




Rick Hafenfeld

Rick Hafenfeld, President

Rick Hafenfeld, Past President

Rick’s diverse background in forestry, wildlife biology, and historic preservation creates the perfect setting for being the Board’s President. After active and reserve duty in the Navy, he worked as a forester and taught forestry, fire, and wildlife courses.

When most people would retire to sit back and relax, Rick decided he wanted to give back even more. He became a project leader for Road Scholar programs, a hunting/fishing guide for an outfitter, and restoring and repairing historic buildings and cabins for our nonprofit and others.

Bob Smee

Bob Smee, Vice President

Bob Smee, Vice President and Executive Director

Bob is a former US Forest Service Smokejumper and a retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Reserve.  Bob served three nonprofit organizations as an Executive Director.  He founded 2 nonprofit corporations, a sole proprietorship, and engineered two joint ventures. He won three national awards for the development of a nationwide computer network to promote and facilitate the recycling of industrial waste. 

Skilled at management, fundraising, communications, marketing, and public relations he has experience developing and conducting youth programs with an outdoor focus.  He currently serves on the board of three organizations.  

Mark Petroni, Treasurer

Mark Petroni, Treasurer

Mark Petroni, Treasurer

After 34 years of government service Mark retired from a fast paced life as District Ranger with the Forest Service to a life of leisure.  At least it was until he began his association with Yellowstone Nature Connection. 

Now the leisure has been replaced with building maintenance and growing a program that helps children understand and enjoy the natural environment.  Leisure has been replaced with satisfaction that comes from dedication to a worthwhile endeavor.   Helping to connect children to outdoor activity is worthwhile, gratifying and fulfilling.

Mark lives near West Yellowstone, MT with his wife Peggy.  He enjoys back country skiing, hunting and traveling.  Together they own Blue Heron Enterprises, a small business that specializes in environmental consulting and horticultural services.

Butch Hayes

Everell “Butch” Hayes, Secretary

Everell “Butch” Hayes, Secretary

An Incident Management professional, Everell brings his skills, knowledge, and abilities to designing, developing, and implementing strategies for the nonprofit. His many degrees allow him to teach others in safety-related and management courses.

His last position in the BLM as a Deputy State Fire Management Officer for Reno, Nevada, honed his skills in program and meeting management, planning and organizing budgets, and training management.

His service continues even in retirement, as he serves on two other Boards, teaches Incident Management courses, and brings Road Scholar students to volunteer at the nonprofit.

Bobby Sutton

Bobby Sutton, Active Smokejumper

Bobby Sutton, Board Member, Active Smokejumper

An active smokejumper with over 400 jumps in either the round or square chutes. Bobby Sutton’s family is from North Carolina but makes Montana their home now. In the off-season of fighting fires for the Forest Service, Bobby spreads the word about smokejumping to Montana and Idaho schools.





Phil Barto, Board Member, Professional Civil Engineer

Phil Barto, Board Member

Phil Barto, Board Member

Phil’s lifelong career of creating man-made structures is balanced by his love of nature and the outdoors. His career lead him from the military, to county government, to his own firm of construction and training. His experience in maintenance and working on other Boards make him a valuable resource for our historic buildings.



Amy Freed, Board Member, West Yellowstone School Teacher

Amy Freed

Amy Freed, Board Member

Amy is our idea generator, educator, and local liaison in West Yellowstone.

She volunteers in the fall, winter, and spring, as she is a teacher at West Yellowstone Public Schools. In the summer she volunteers for Yellowstone Nature Connection.

Amy has a talent to make learning fun, so that children and adults do not even know they are learning. She has a flair for fun crafts and works well with a paint brush, hammer, or stencils.




Chris Bachmann, Board Member, Secondary School Teacher

Chris Bachman

Chris Bachman, Board Member

Chris Bachman is a middle school science and math teacher. He enjoys working with young people, and building environmental advocates for future generations. In addition to his work as an educator, Chris is an avid backcountry traveler. He enjoys snowboarding; both front and backcountry, backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends. Chris and his wife, Wendy, live in Spokane Valley with their two children; daughter Alex and son Seth.




Greg Forsythe, Board Member, Owner of West Yellowstone’s Westmart and City Councilman



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