Who We Are

Staff of the Southern Plains Land Trust

Nicole Rosmarino, Ph.D. helped found the Southern Plains Land Trust and is currently its Executive Director.  She resides in Bent County, 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 and treasures all native prairie species, both plant and animal.

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

Jay Tutchton, Esq. is SPLT’s Preserve Manger. He spends his days managing the bison herds and improving our network of protected lands for the benefit of all native wildlife species. For 27 years, Jay worked tirelessly as an attorney representing environmental organizations and individuals seeking to protect the environment.  Jay also helped to start the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law and has taught a variety of courses on Wildlife, Animal, and Environmental Law. 

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

Susan Crick is SPLT’s Development & Communications Director. She has over 20 years of experience in environmental non-profits and environmental education. Susan is passionate about protecting the short-grass prairie. One of her goals is to help others discover the prairie’s beauty and diversity and to inspire a sense of stewardship. She has a B.S. in environmental education from Colorado State University and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems from University of Denver.

Contact Susan by phone: (720) 692-8936 or email: susan@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. When she’s not protecting the environment by treating contaminated water at Avivid Water Technology in her role as the VP of Business Operations, she can be found working on her xeric and vegetable gardens in Louisville, CO, surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and her family. 

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

Taylor Jones, SPLT’s Vice President, 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. 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 led WildEarth Guardians’ “Protecting the Prairie Dog Empire” priority campaign for a decade. She is currently a Master’s student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, focusing on sustainable food systems. She is committed to social, racial, and environmental justice as inextricably interconnected movements.

Lexi Schaefer, SPLT’s Secretary, is a second-generation Colorado Native who grew up in Longmont, hiking the mountains, and developing a deep affinity for all Colorado wildlife. She graduated from University of Colorado in Boulder a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and promptly developed a sales career in the wine industry where she focused on sustainable and organic wines for 17 years. Lexi discovered SPLT while working for Fetzer Vineyards where she was immediately drawn to SPLT’s mission and ambitious goals. She supports SPLT fundraisers with her enthusiasm and passion for the cause.

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!

Misty Morehead, is a SPLT Board member and 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.

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.

Shannon Ryon is a SPLT Board Member. Shannon has 15 years of experience in real estate and title closings and has a strong background in organizing philanthropic events.  She is a Colorado native and grew up on an organic farm and apple orchard in Golden, CO. Shannon enjoys traveling, history, skiing, and antique collecting.  Shannon was first introduced to The Southern Plains Land Trust through fellow board member Ramona Gaylord and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Souther Plains Land Trust for several years.


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Southern Plains Land Trust
P.O. Box 1016
Lamar, CO 81052



A special thanks to the SPLT photographers!

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