Chelsea Leven


Chelsea’s love and curiosity for the natural world was born of muddy hands, frog-catching, and tree climbing as a child in the snowbelt of northeast Ohio. She earned a geology degree from Amherst College and studied marine ecology in New Zealand before taking an academic break for a variety of professional pursuits. Snapshots from research positions include scuba diving in Cozumel, Mexico; collecting rodent middens for paleoclimate studies in Chile’s Atacama Desert; and warming bags of live bats against her belly as a wildlife technician in Glacier National Park. She also joined the search and rescue team in McMurdo Station, Antarctica; trained Iditarod sled dogs in Fairbanks, Alaska; and taught skiing to Olympic hopefuls in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

Driven by a desire to strengthen people’s connection with the outdoors, she has worked as a national park educator, as well as a guide for urban youth, people with disabilities, and others traditionally underrepresented in outdoor pursuits. For 12 years she has worked in Southeast Alaska as a naturalist, guide, and park ranger. Her underutilized professional skills include operating forklift loaders and stilt walking.

Chelsea calls Montana home. She returned to academia for a master’s degree in the International Conservation and Development Program at the University of Montana, combined with a certificate in Natural Resource Conflict Resolution. Her research, in Nicaragua, considers social and ecological resilience at the intersection of volcanic risk, tourism development, and collaborative conservation.