Who We Are

With just three staff people, SPLT does a lot with a little.

Nicole Rosmarino, Ph.D. helped found the Southern Plains Land Trust and is currently its Executive Director.  She served as the caretaker for SPLT-protected land from 1999-2002, during which time she monitored for trespass and to record flora and fauna observed several times per week, while residing in Pritchett, Colorado.  She now resides in Centennial, CO.  Nicole received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in May 2002.  Her Ph.D. is in policy science/political science, and her academic focus was on biodiversity preservation.  She has been actively involved in efforts to protect prairie wildlife since 1994.

Contact Nicole by phone: (720) 841-1757 or email: nicole@southernplains.org.

Jay Tutchton, Esq. is a long-time SPLT supporter and an accomplished environmental attorney.  He became SPLT’s Preserve Manager on April 1, 2017.  For special insight into Jay’s career path, read his blog, SPLiT Existence.

Contact Jay by phone: (720) 301-3843 or email: jay@southernplains.org.

Ashleigh Wheeler is SPLT’s Programs Manager.  Ashleigh has a law degree from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Colorado State University.  She grew up in the Denver area and has a lifelong passion for the wildlife of the shortgrass prairie.  Ashleigh’s background includes running her own cake business, conservation and animal legal work, event organizing, and community outreach.  Her duties for SPLT run the gamut of our programs: land acquisition, ecological restoration, biodiversity policy, and outreach.  To volunteer for our organization in any capacity, please contact Ashleigh. 

Contact Ashleigh by phone: (303) 319-2963 or email: ashleigh@southernplains.org.

SPLT is governed by an all-volunteer, hard-working board of directors.

Tracy Kessner, SPLT’s President, has an MS in Environmental Policy from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and a BS in Equine Science from Colorado State University. She developed her process and business organizational skills working for IBM and Sun Microsystems, where she spent 8+ years as a globe trotting IT project manager. She puts all of this knowledge to use making the world a better place, one acre at a time. Most days she can be found working on her xeric and vegetable gardens in Louisville, CO, surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and her three children.

left to right: Misty Morehead, Tracy Kessner, Ortrun Neidig, and Taylor Jones on Heartland Ranch

Misty Morehead, SPLT’s Vice-President, is a lawyer based in Denver, CO. Misty was most recently a partner at Ellis, Wright, & Ewegen, LLP, a small downtown Denver law firm she started with two of her study partners from law school. The trio decided to “firm up” because they had similar interests in law and a shared desire to work towards protecting the environment. Misty spent much of her childhood meandering through the Rocky Mountains and the Eastern plains. Misty’s grandfather owned a farm out in Eastern Colorado where Misty and her brother would play hide and seek among cornfields and race under an endless sky. Misty learned to respect natural resources early on. Misty graduated pre-law from the Metropolitan State College of Denver, where she interned with the Colorado State Senate. She then attended the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2003, where she represented abused and neglected children, managed a student team writing a Domestic Violence manual for the State of California, provided legal research for voting rights organizations, sat on the board of several public interest groups, and assisted a number of environmental groups with legal research and analysis.

Taylor Jones, SPLT’s Secretary, has been fascinated by animals great and small her whole life, from a childhood spent watching ants to a Master’s thesis on the Andean bear. Before entering graduate school, she did a variety of conservation work in New Mexico and Colorado, including prairie dog relocation and riparian area surveys. She received an M. Sc. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, where she was a member of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab. Taylor joined WildEarth Guardians in 2010 as the Endangered Species Advocate. Taylor leads WildEarth Guardians’ “Protecting the Prairie Dog Empire” priority campaign. She is on the board of the Prairie Dog Coalition of the Humane Society of the United States. Lastly, she is committed to intersectionality between environmental and social justice movements. She is interested in searching for areas of connection and allyship with groups like SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) and Outdoor Afro, in order to connect people in the social and racial justice movements with the prairie.

Ortrun Neidig is a SPLT Board Member who first learned of SPLT through her working partner on a yurt building expedition at the Heartland Ranch headquarters. The mission of SPLT immediately spoke to Ortrun’s values of preservation and stewardship of our planet. Currently Ortrun works in Real Estate with a familiarity of easements and land purchasing; one of her current projects is developing a community based sustainable tiny home village. Ortrun’s past volunteer experience includes a number of seasons as an ecology tour guide and pest monitor at the Denver Botanic Gardens. She also taught grade schoolers earth stewardship as an after school garden program instructor. She worked several years as a research assistant at the Denver Zoological Gardens contributing to the Zoo’s mission of species preservation around the planet. Ortrun also worked at The Colorado State Capitol where she developed a number of connections while learning of various task forces involved in environmental causes. More recently, she worked as a landscaper contributing to designs that protect our Colorado ecosystem and water with low maintenance native plants. With years of experience working for start-ups and serving on public school committees, Ortrun enjoys event planning, fundraising and networking and values empowering fellow humans to reach their potential.

Ramona Gaylord is a SPLT Board Member who is a science educator based in Telluride, CO. Ramona has been a biology/science teacher consultant with Telluride Public School/Telluride Mountain School since 2007. She has also been a biologist consultant with Bridal Veil Living Classroom at the Telluride Institute from 2006-2015. While she was at the Pinhead Institute from 2002-2007, she created “Biodiversity through Art,” depicting the indigenous residents of the Telluride valley; the Gunnison’s prairie dogs and the Ute Indians, and culminating with a display in Elks Park with a painted tipi, bronze sculptures, acrylic range maps and life-size clay prairie dog replicas. Ramona grew up in the Denver area and witnessed the relentless destruction of prairie habitat and wildlife during her youth and believes that buying prairie habitat is the best way to forever protect it. She strongly believes in the mission statement of Southern Plains Land Trust and is thrilled to be on the board. She and her husband, Kent, are raising two daughters, Soleil and Chambri. Soleil, Kent and Ramona have worked at SPLT’s Raven’s Nest Preserve. Soleil created 2 revegetation plots seeding them with indigenous grasses in hopes that some of the buffalo and rice grass will spread from these plots. She hopes that her daughters will be able to enjoy visits to SPLT’s reserves and spot prairie dogs when they are her age!

Donna Driscoll is SPLT’s Treasurer. Donna has tremendous experience in non-profit accounting. She served as the Chief Financial Officer and Controller of a major cultural institution, the Denver Zoological Foundation, for more than 20 years. She has worked as the Chief Financial Officer for Engineers Without Borders since 2015. Donna has a BA in Economics from Colorado College and an MS in Management from the University of Colorado at Denver. Donna has volunteered for and previously been a board member of SPLT for much of our history over the past 20 years.


Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT)
PO Box 1016
Lamar, CO 81052



A special thanks to the SPLT photographers!

Check the Photographers out here.