Nicole Pepper will be joining the YVSC team as a Geospatial Analyst and Internship Program Director. She comes to YVSC with a background in environmental education, science communication, and geospatial information systems for natural resources. During the Fall of  2020, Nicole first joined YVSC as an intern and is excited to be continuing with the organization in an increased capacity.

Nicole grew up in southern California and moved to Colorado in 2018 after graduating from the University of California Los Angeles. She holds her B.S. in Environmental Studies and Geography and minored in Geographic Information Systems & Technology. During her time at UCLA she was greatly involved with campus-wide sustainability initiatives through the Sustainability Action Research program and as an intern with the Santa Monica Resource Recovery and Recycling Division. For 2 years, she served as a Program and Volunteer manager for an environmental education non-profit based out of Los Angeles, Global Inheritance. In the Fall of 2018, she moved to Fort Collins for a position with NASA DEVELOP, a research program under the applied science branch of NASA. During her time with the program she led 3 research projects. The first worked with the USDA to detect wild cranberries using satellites in Wisconsin; the second partnered with the USGS to create habitat suitability models for an invasive grass, medusahead, in northern Utah; and the final collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to better understand a rusting pathogen that is infecting the dominant forest cover in Moloka’i, Hawai’i. Following the program, she moved to the Yampa Valley and has since been working as a teaching assistant for the GIS program at Colorado Mountain College.

As the Geospatial Analyst, Nicole will work closely with Tim Sullivan, YVSC’s Natural Climate Solutions Director, and other YVSC directors. This responsibility will involve acquisition, production, management and analysis of large spatial datasets. In her work, she will use GIS as a tool to better understand both biophysical and social-economic patterns over space and time as they relate to local conservation and sustainability initiatives. This position will include the performance of geospatial analysis and the creation of map products as well as other data representation products. 

Nicole has plans to develop the YVSC Internship Program into an intensive professional development opportunity for youth and young professionals within the Yampa Valley who are interested in pursuing a career in conservation and sustainability. We currently have a small group that represents our first cohort of interns with varying backgrounds, ranging from high school to graduate students. She looks forward to providing these and future interns with the support they need to become local leaders in climate action.

Like many, she was drawn to the Yampa Valley for its multitude of recreation opportunities. Nicole enjoys just about anything in the outdoors including hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, fly fishing, mountain biking, touring, and  snowboarding. She feels incredibly grateful to live in such a wonderful area and looks forward to getting further involved with sustainability and conservation initiatives throughout the community.