Meet the Summer Term Staff

Leslie Dinkin, Summer Term Faculty

Born and raised in Southern California, Leslie first fell in love with the Rockies after spending a semester at the HMI in 2011. Since then, she’s been hooked on mountains. This past May, Leslie graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. At CC, she explored the effects of El Niño in the Galapagos, the impossibility of utopia in Hawaii, and gluten-free food in Italy. Since graduating, she returned to HMI as a Wilderness Apprentice and then spent a semester in Jackson, WY teaching Yellowstone ecology to 5th and 8th graders at the Teton Science Schools. She is so excited to re-return to Leadville as the humanities faculty for Summer Term. When Leslie isn’t hiking, she can be found on the potter’s wheel making bowls and mugs or skiing in the Rocky Mountains.

MJ Fernandez, Summer Term Coordinator

Maria Jose (MJ) Fernandez was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She fell in love with the outdoors while splitting her time between hikes in the Cordillera Central mountains and dives into the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. She discovered her passion for outdoor education working with Foundacion Siempre Mas, where she lead expeditions of kids from local underprivileged communities through the mountains of the D.R. She moved to the United States five years ago to pursue a double major in Secondary Education and History at NYU. MJ joined the HMI family as the History Apprentice in Semester 39. She has spent the last semester sailing around the Caribbean teaching Cultural History and Coral Reef Conservation on board a tall ship with Sea Education Association. As she exchanges her sails for hiking boots, she is very excited to spend time with her new students, in both the classroom and the great outdoors!

Grace Fowler, Summer Term Faculty

Grace grew up in Minnesota and New Hampshire, and fell in love with experiential education and the outdoors as a student at The Island School and the High Mountain Institute. Grace pursued those passions at Colby College, where she majored in Environmental Policy and Education and spent her free time organizing backpacking trips and exploring Maine with friends. After graduation, she returned west and worked at HMI for a second summer before moving to teach science at the Keystone Science School. Fond of petting dogs, eating burritos, and exploring Colorado by foot, bike, and ski, Grace is overjoyed to be a part of the HMI community.



Josh Garrison, Summer Term Faculty

Josh is from a small town in southern New York, but feels more at home walking in old growth forests in Patagonia and sleeping on big walls in Yosemite Valley. He has spent the past three years teaching Earth Science and Physics in Connecticut to middle school students. Prior to that, Josh graduated with a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies and got his teaching credential as well. While not in the classroom, Josh attempts to balance his time between all of his hobbies: bird watching, wood working, trail running, climbing, and many others. While this is Josh’s first summer at HMI, he has spent the past eleven years as an instructor, course director, and trainer at Outward Bound, in the High Sierra.



Jonathan Presley, Summer Term Faculty

JP grew up in on a farm in rural Indiana, however the flat land could not hold him for long. While taking a degree in International Studies at Hanover College he developed a strong desire to explore, grow, and never stop learning. He has been at it every since. Combining a love of travel and the outdoors, JP has split time between living abroad and working in the big sky country of Montana. Most recently he has been instructing 3-month service gap semesters in East Africa and South America. JP is ecstatic about joining the HMI team for this up coming Summer Term as a Residential Life Faculty. Fun and laughter await.


Madeline Short, Summer Term Faculty

Madeline grew up exploring the fields and forests around her family’s farm in rural Pennsylvania. For college she went north in search of snowier mountains and a degree in environmental studies from the University of Vermont. When she is not running, hiking, or playing outside Madeline loves reading, cooking, and spending time with her family. Madeline was an intern at HMI last summer and can’t wait to return to Leadville for Summer Term 2018!





Caroline Bauwens, Summer Term Intern

Caroline spent a lot of her growing years between Miami, FL and France. She is a junior Politics major with a Biology minor at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. At Whitman, she discovered a personal passion for climbing and picked up a couple of other interests – namely, strumming all of three songs on the ukulele, reading anything in her free time, and longboarding around campus. Among other places, she works at the Climbing Center at Whitman, teaching classes and expanding her personal climbing and guiding skills. Every summer, Caroline has sought out an opportunity to travel somewhere she had never been before to spend time doing what makes her happy. Her spirit animal is a sea otter and her favorite author (as of yet) is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This will be her first time at HMI, and in Colorado, and she is wildly excited to get know the Leadville community!

Whit Lower, Summer Term Intern

Whit, hailing from the Green Mountain State of Vermont, attributes his love of nature to his upbringing in the woods and rivers back home. Between summers fly-fishing in Montana’s alpine rivers, winters skiing Vermont’s peaks, and Autumn seasons hiking through the Fall foliage with a backpack of crispy apples, Whit’s life outdoors has inspired his dreams of environmental conservation.  Whit now enters his final year at Tufts University where his studies in Biology and Environmental Science have focused on the ecological effects of climate change.  His last summer was spent strolling through Northeastern fields, netting and studying Baltimore Checkerspot Butterflies for a Tufts Research Lab.  This summer, after a tropical research trip to Costa Rica and a semester abroad in Madrid, Whit is thrilled to return to the States and share his passions for backpacking, fly fishing, an environmental education.

Eli Mercer, Summer Term Intern

Eli Mercer, originally from the city of Atlanta, GA, didn’t discover his love for the outdoors until his first time joining the HMI community during Semester 32. In Leadville, his surroundings sparked a longtime interest in the beauty and activities of the outdoor world. Eli began attending CU Boulder to study business and Spanish as well as further participate in skiing, rock climbing, and hiking. From Boulder, Eli is able to spend his free weekends in Utah canyon lands and searching for new watering holes around Colorado for cliff jumping. He also enjoys playing the guitar, skateboarding, and cooking.



Emily Shannon, Summer Term Intern

Emily resides in Oneonta, NY, but can typically be found out west working for the Student Conservation Association during the summer in various National Parks.  She is currently attending SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY and majoring in Environmental Studies.  Last semester she spent abroad mountaineering, sea kayaking and backpacking around New Zealand through NOLS.  She discovered her love for backpacking while a student at HMI during Semester 31 and can normally be found somewhere in the backcountry snacking on watermelon sour patch kids.  When she’s not in the mountains Emily enjoys baking, running, and climbing.


Sam Vogel, Summer Intern

Sam grew up in Northborough, MA and first headed to HMI as a participant of High Peaks Adventure in 2011 and then returned as a Summer Term student in 2013 where he fell in love with being in the outdoors. He is a part of the class of 2019 at Skidmore College in New York, majoring in Environmental Studies and is a member of the Alpine Ski Team. He spent the Spring 2018 semester in Australia studying rainforest and marine ecology to seek refuge from chilly New England winters. Sam enjoys hiking, skiing and reading and spending time with family and friends. He feels grateful to spend another summer in the Colorado Rockies with an incredible community.



Jennie Yoors, Summer Intern

Jennie grew up on the coast of Massachusetts riding her bike, climbing trees and playing in the ocean. Her first experience away from the sea was to the mountains of Leadville CO where she was a part of Semester 31. From there she graduated high school and took a gap year to explore more of the world. She is currently a second-year student at Prescott College in Arizona where she has traveled south to Mexico to study marine and cultural studies and north to Idaho to study backcountry skiing and winter ecology. She is studying to get a degree in Holistic Human Development in the Outdoors. Jennie can’t wait to be back in Colorado to explore old and new places with new friends.