The WFM RD&A is comprised of 19 Fire Application Specialists, Fire Management Specialists, Data Management Specialists, and a physical scientist, that provide a tangible link between fire management and research. The WFMRD&A staff is consists of several virtual positions located in CO, FL, ID, MN, MT, NM, OR, and SC, with program leadership stationed at NIFC in Boise ID and represents the five federal land management agencies: the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
With personal interests as diverse as their fire management skill sets, employees have a combined 300+ years of fire management experience and have represented each of the federal agencies and geographic areas in their collective careers.
Tim Sexton - Program Manager
Tim is currently the Program Manager for the Wildland Fire Research Development & Applications Program.His responsibilities include management of the Wildland Fire Decision Support System as well as facilitating technology transfer of new science associated with wildland fire to the field. He previously served as a Type I Incident Commander on Great Basin IMT 1 and as a Type II IC on Rocky Mountain IMT #2. He remains active in large fire management, serving on Area Command and the Command and General Staff of Type I IMTs. Tim has a Bachelor's Degree in History from Boise State University and a Master's Degree in Fire Ecology from Oregon State University. Tim started his fire career as an engine and fuels crewmember on the Shasta-Trinity NF at Weaverville Ranger District.
His work experience includes:
- Suppression and fuels on the Gifford Pinchot and Umpqua National Forests
- Fire Operations Specialist for BLM at the National Interagency Fire Center
- Hotshot superintendent at Redmond, Oregon (Deschutes NF)
- District Fire Management Officer for 11 years on the Winema National Forest
- Deputy Regional Fire Management Officer for the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service in Denver, CO
- National Fire Ecologist for the National Park Service
- Fire Use Program Manager for the US Forest Service
- District Ranger, LaCroix RD, Superior National Forest
In his free time Tim enjoys snow skiing, canoeing, woodworking, photography, fishing, and hunting.
Mark Hale - Deputy Program Manager
Mark is “Buckeye” born and raised in Ohio now living in the Northwood’s of Minnesota. He worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and graduated from Hocking Technical College in 1986 with an A.S. in Recreation and Wildlife and set his sights on heading west. His Forest Service career started in Priest lake Idaho in 1987 where he worked in Recreation, Timber and Silviculture while going to School at the University of Idaho. Mark’s degree at the U of I was in Fisheries but finding fisheries jobs was difficult, so in 1991 he took a job on the Wyoming Hotshot crew and the rest is history. He received a B. S. in Fisheries Management from the University of Idaho in 1992 and continued working on the Wyoming and St. Joe Hotshot crews for 5 years. During his Forest Service career Mark has experienced working in research at the Intermountain Research Station in Moscow, ID, and in three Regions, on 8 National Forests including the Idaho Panhandle, Bighorn, Medicine Bow, Nebraska, Black Hills, Custer, Chippewa and Superior. Mark has worked in fire in many aspects holding titles such as Engine Foreman, Hotshot Squad Boss, Assistant Station Manager, Prevention Tech, Fuels Specialist, Forest Fire Planner and Forest Aviation Officer. He has acted as Forest AFMO, Forest FMO and Regional Fire Operations. In his spare time, Mark enjoys fishing, ice fishing/spearing, hunting, hiking, biking, ice skating, canoeing and cross country skiing. Future goals and challenges include finishing renovations on his 100+ year house which seems never-ending, and possibly positions/details to DC in Fire Leadership positions, and rounding out his career with experience as Line Officer.
Tami Parkinson - Lead Fire Application Specialist
Tami has worked in the natural resources field since 1992, her first seasonal position was working as a trail crew member and packer – she was able to bring her horse with her on this first job! She took a semester off from college that first season to help with prescribed fire for the remainder of the fall, and she caught the fire bug. Working seasonally in various positions and forests Tami graduated with her BS from the U of I College of Natural Resources. Additionally, while working as a seasonal fire fighter, Tami also lived and worked at the Moscow Fire Department as a structure firefighter from 1993-1996, it was a very active student program for the city of Moscow, ID. Tami received a permanent appointment as the Fuels Specialist on the Clearwater National Forest in 1999, while working full time she completed her graduate degree from the University of Idaho in 2001. She has worked primarily for the Forest Service with a short assignment to the BLM, work experience includes: district fuels specialist (FS), Fire Use Specialist (BLM), and Forest AFMO.
Tami has been with the WFM RD&A since 2010, her area of emphasis has included: Chair of the NWCG Fire Behavior Subcommittee, S-590 lead instructor, National Line Officer Representative (maintaining and developing reference materials useful for Line Officers regarding fire management, qualification standards, training, hosting webinars etc), Cohesive Strategy implementation and chair of several national workshops, and providing support to the field through virtual or onsite decision support working as an FBAN, LTAN and SOPL. Tami works to be a convener of sorts leveraging opportunities with outside entities to develop training, assist with research, develop and maintain reference materials for fire behavior specialists to mention a few – these partnerships include: Northern Arizona University; University of Fairbanks, Alaska; South Dakota School of Mines; and Desert Research Institute. Working as the Chair of the Fire Behavior Subcommittee – this group has the oversight of all fire behavior curricula, qualifications and standards for FBAN and LTANs, the group has worked hard to be that conduit of new science and technology to the field of fire behavior specialists. In her free time Tami and her son are active outdoors, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, biking and skiing.
Morgan Pence - Lead Fire Application Specialist
Morgan earned her B.S. in Ecology and Conservation Biology and her Masters in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho. She joined the Forest Service as a seasonal firefighter in 2000 on the Salmon-Challis N.F. She has worked on helitack, engines, and handcrews. She accepted a permanent position on the Plumas N.F. in fire ecology in 2003. In 2005 she joined the National Interagency Fuels Technology Team (NIFTT) doing a variety of duties but mainly helping coordinate training courses on fuels/fire GIS tools. She joined the Wildland Fire Management RD&A team in the fall of 2009 and works in support of fire decisions and documentation with fire behavior and economic assessment tools.
Sam Amato - Fire Application Specialist
Fort Collins, CO
Sam Amato began his career with Rocky Mountain National Park as a seasonal firefighter, then moving on the Gila National Forest, Wilderness District as an Assistant Suppression Foreman. After Completing a Masters Degree in Fire Ecology at Colorado State University, Sam worked as a Fire Application Specialist for the Forest Service Southwest Regional Office. Sam began working with the Wildland Fire Decision Support System in 2007, and helped with the initial implementation of WFDSS for the Southwest Region of the Forest Service. In late 2009 Sam began working for WFM RD&A as a Fire Application Specialist. Currently Sam works in several focus areas of the WFM RD&A, including Fuels, Technology Transfer, and Decision Support. Sam is qualified as an; ENGB, FIRB, FEMO and is a LTAN. During fire season the majority of Sam's time is spent in remote and onsite wildland fire support. In his off time Sam enjoys spending time with his children, snowboarding, hiking, bouldering, biking, hunting, fishing, and gardening.
Alison Mims - Visual Information Specialist
Alison Mims is a Visual Information Specialist working in Montrose, Colorado. After earning a bachelor’s degree in geology and math from Colorado College, her career began as a paleontologist for the National Park Service. Deciding that she didn’t want to study Devonian armored fish for the rest of her life, she quickly moved over to media and communications by getting an MFA in Science & Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University. She then returned to the National Park Service for over 15 years doing a wide range of print, video, exhibit, website, and strategic communication work. Surprisingly, she also had the opportunity to be a park service search & rescue scuba diver, which she successfully leveraged to convince the dive team to help her monitor submerged dinosaur bone fossils. Science communication support and teaching video production workshops are professional passions. Alison, her husband, and two kids enjoy spending time with their menagerie of goats, chickens, pigs, dogs, and cats. During summer weekends they can be found on pack trips with their two burros hiking into the Colorado mountains.
Kim Ernstrom - Lead Fire Application Specialist
Kim Ernstrom began her fire career on the Bridger-Teton NF as a seasonal in 1993 after completing a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Geology. She has worked in fire management in eight different states throughout her career. Positions with the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy have provided a broad perspective on fire management. Titles such as Helicopter Crewmember, Hotshot Foreman, Prescribed Fire Specialist, Prescribed Fire Training Center Coordinator, Fire Management Officer and Fire Application Specialist round out Kim’s resume. While enjoying summers as a fire fighter Kim received her Masters Degree in Earth Science at Montana State University in 1999 completing a thesis on the “Fire effects of the 1988 fires on headwater stream systems in Yellowstone National Park”. Kim has lived in Boise since 2010 when she began her current position as a Fire Application Specialist with the Wildland Fire Management RD&A. Her primary focus includes teaching advanced fire behavior applications (S590), long term fire planning, decision support and is currently one of 4 technical leads in developing the Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System (IFTDSS). Kim has a career interest and passion in technology transfer and training our fire management workforce, especially in fuels management and fire behavior. Gardening, Mountain biking, skiing, whitewater kayaking and rafting the rivers of Idaho and beyond are what keeps Kim happy outside of work.
Tessa Nicolet - Lead Fire Application Specialist
Tessa started her Natural Resource career on the Lincoln National Forest chasing Mexican Spotted Owls and Northern Goshawks through the south central New Mexican mountains. She would participate in prescribed burns and realized that one of the biggest habitat influencers was fire, which prompted her to earn a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in forestry with an emphasis on fire ecology. She then returned to the Lincoln National Forest as the forest fire ecologist and later became the Southwestern Regional Fire Ecologist. Fire Ecology has allowed for a varied and fascinating career working toward holistic approaches to land management. Tessa is looking forward to her next learning journey. On her free time Tessa enjoys developing partnerships between equines and humans, spending time teaching and riding. We are looking forward to Tessa joining the WFMRDA in a Lead Fire Application Specialist position and will work from Payson, AZ.
Reggie Goolsby - Lead Fire Technology Transfer Specialist
Reggie Goolsby joined the Forest Service in 2010. Reggie worked at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal as a journalist for a New York Times Company newspaper before receiving his Masters Degree in Forestry Resource Management from Clemson University. Reggie is also a programmer and a database manager. He has independently developed web based modeling applications and mobile device apps to assist with fire effects monitoring and wildland fire and fuels planning. Reggie enjoys whitewater kayaking, Furman and Clemson football. Reggie left the Francis Marion & Sumter National forest with the mission to return usable effective user friendly fire applications to the people who deserve it the most, the fire technicians.
Bre Schueller - Fire Technology Transfer Specialist
Grand Marais, MN
Bre is a Fire Technology Transfer Specialist working out of Grand Marais, Minnesota. Her primary area of focus working for the WFM RD&A is leading the development and tech transfer of the Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System (IFTDSS). She also continues to develop skills assisting on wildfires as a Long Term Analyst (LTAN). Bre started her career with the Forest Service in 1997 and worked in a variety of seasonal wildland fire positions on the Kaibab, Willamette, and Superior National Forests. She accepted a permanent position on the Superior National Forest in 2002 and spent about 14 years there working in fuels management. Bre worked as a Fuels Technician for several years before accepting the Zone Fire Management Specialist position in 2012. She has detailed into the Regional Fuels Specialist position for Region 9 and worked as a Fire Management Specialist for the WFM RD&A in a short term detail in 2015 before joining the staff permanently in 2016. She received her B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin and her Masters in Natural Resource Management with certificates in Restoration Ecology and Fire Ecology, Management, and Technology from the University of Idaho. Outside of work, Bre enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters cross country skiing, boating, swimming, running, hiking, and reading.
Amanda Rumsey - Data Specialist
Amanda Rumsey has been selected as a data scientist for the Division of Fire and Aviation’s Information Technology & Resource Management (ITRM) Branch. From 2016-2021, Amanda served as a geographer within the U.S. Census Bureau. Within the Geography Division, Amanda specialized in utilizing geospatial tools to update the MAF/TIGER System and to evaluate decennial operations. In 2022, she took on a new role within the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer as a management analyst. NPS ITRM branch chief, Erik Torres-Jacquez stated, "Amanda's business acumen and analytical skills will allow the wildland fire community to source, manage, and analyze data that will drive strategic decision-making within our organizations. We are excited to welcome Amanda to the data scientist position." We are excited to have Amanda join the WFMRDA team as well.
Nicole Vaillant - Lead Fire Application Specialist
Nicole first worked with the Forest Service as a seasonal employee working as a wildland firefighter, botanist, and plot-shot in northern California. After a few seasons, she got a permanent position as a fire ecologist first with the USFS Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team (AMSET), then later with WWETAC at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. Nicole joined the WFM RD&A in 2017 where she has worked on both IFTDSS and the FMSF. Her background is in characterizing fire behavior at multiple scales, fuel treatment effectiveness, quantitative wildfire risk, and supporting software development of fuels management tools. She received her B.S. in Evolution and Ecology from the University of California, Davis and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Outside of work, Nicole enjoys spending time outdoors, running, biking, swimming, hiking, camping, snow sports and traveling with her husband and dogs.
Jim Riddering - Fire Management Specialist
Jim Riddering joined the WFMRDA in June 2021. He comes to us from the Fire Modeling Institute at the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab. Before that, Jim worked as a Program Manager and Adjunct Research Professor in the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. His experience with geospatial technologies and fire behavior modeling is being used to assist in the development of the NexGen WFFDSS application. Jim is stationed in Missoula, MT where he enjoys skiing, rafting, motorcycling, photography, and most any outdoor activity in his free time.
Wes Hall - Fire Management Specialist
Wes is a LTAN and the chair of the Fire Environment Continuing Education Subcommittee. Previously, he was a Forest Fire Planner on the Coconino National Forest from 2009-2018 and a Forest Fuels Assistant Fire Management Officer on the Lincoln National Forest from 2018-2022. Currently, Wes is the product owner for the development of the Next Generation of WFDSS and co-lead for the development of the Interagency Spatial Fire Planning Service.
TJ Boyer - Fire Management Specialist
Tederell J. Boyer, also known as “T.J.”, has been the Intelligence Coordinator for the Southern Area Coordination Center since 2017. He worked as a Fire Ecologist between 2011 through 2016 at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Originally from Fort Valley, GA, T.J. received his Bachelor of Science degree in Soil Science from Fort Valley State University (FVSU), and a second Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Science from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU). T.J. obtained firefighting experiences by working and completing a season with the Cherokee Hotshots, Asheville Hotshots, and through multiple fire assignments on engines. As a dispatcher he has completed multiple assignments in different geographic areas as an Intelligence Support (INTS), Expanded Dispatch Recorder (EDRC), and Expanded Dispatch Support Dispatcher (EDSD). He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. TJ joins the WFMRDA in a Fire Application Specialist position and will work from Atlanta, GA.
Susan McClendon - GIS Specialist
Susan McClendon is a GIS specialist with the National Park Service’s Branch of Wildland Fire. Her undergraduate degree is in computer science and she has a Masters Degree in GIS from Penn State University. She has a broad background in programming, information technology, and geographic information systems. Susan has worked for WYDOT as a GIS Developer, the University of Wyoming as a GIS Systems Specialist with concentration on ESRI Enterprise implementations, and in private industry working with utilities and energy companies to implement decision support systems for disaster response. Susan began her federal service as a seasonal GIS Tech for Grand Teton National Park. She later moved to northern Wyoming and a position with the BLM as a GIS Specialist for the High Desert District where she began to work in wildland fire as a GISS Trainee. Some of Susan’s specific focus areas have been working on data service coordination, data acquisition, data standards development, and analysis needs of the interagency wildland fire community. She assists in meeting data and system development needs for the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS), WFDSS NextGen, and Interagency Fuel Treatment Decision Support System (IFTDSS). Susan works from Grand Teton National Park in Moose, WY where her partner also works. In their downtime, they enjoy fishing, camping, and live music, as well as their young dog Spud.
Rick Mowery - Fire Management Specialist
Bruce Crossing, MI
Rick grew up in Spokane and Omaha, but moved back west to live among mountains again. He holds a B.S. in Forestry from Utah State University, with time spent studying in Joensuu, Finland and Petrozavodsk, Russia. His Forest Service career started in 1997 in Ogden Utah on a data collection crew covering 3 forests in northern Utah and western Wyoming. He has worked on handcrews and engines, as a fuels tech, AFMO, and Fire Ecologist. He comes to the RDA from a zone Fire Ecologist/Fuels Planner position on the Fremont-Winema N.F. and primary focus is on WFDSS O&M and decision support. Outside of work, Rick enjoys camping and rock hounding with his wife, woodworking armored medieval combat, and managing his new property in Michigan.
Heidi Leritz - Program Assistant
Heidi is born and raised in Montana. She grew up in central Montana where she started working for the Forest Service. She fought fire through college where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Heidi continued to fight fire after college for a total of 13 years on Engines, Hotshots and Helicopters and eventually accepted a permanent position. In 2017 she and her husband started a family and decided to transition out of fire, as her husband was also in primary fire. Since then she has completed several details and finally landed a position at the Fire Lab in Missoula. Heidi still has a strong interest in the fire community and hopes to continue to be involved as much as family and work allows. Heidi is currently a Lead for the RMRS and R1 CISM Teams, a Comprehensive Wellbeing and Resilience Champion, an R1 Safety and Wellness Team Member, a Wilderness First Responder, a This is Who We Are instructor, a Bystander Intervention Training instructor, and a licensed sUAS Pilot. Her hobbies include anything outdoors, primarily running, hiking and rafting, spending time with her family, and producing art as a pass time.
KC Shedden - Fire Technology Transfer Specialist
K.C. is a Fire Technology Transfer Specialist working out of Boise, Idaho for the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) at NIFC. His role has split responsibilities between JFSP and the WFM RD&A. Like other RD&A staff, K.C. will serve as a conveenor for opportunities to leverage fire science research opportunities with the Wildland Fire community.
K.C. wouldn’t classify his career experience as traditional. He began his federal career serving in the US Air Force working as an Avionics Electrician Technician working on the F15 fighter jet. Later after the military, K.C. worked for the BLM’s Remote Automated Weather Systems (RAWS) group at NIFC. He had the opportunity to work on every BLM and FS district in the US. Also, he assisted with Fire Weather support for Type 1 and 2 management teams nationwide each summer. In 2017 K.C. accepted a position as an Outdoor Recreation planner in Winnemucca, NV where he served as a Wilderness Specialist managing over 5 million acres of Wilderness and assisted on the Special Recreation Permit for the Burningman event. Later, he worked as a Fire Management Specialist for the Fuels program implementing projects for the district and managing the post fire restoration program. K.C. has also worked as a Fire Planner for the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit in Grand Junction, Colorado. Previous to his current position, K.C. worked as the Fuels Program Manager for the Battle Mountain BLM District in Nevada managing the Fuels, Weeds, Forestry, and post fire restoration programs for the 10 million acre district, treating over 30,000 acres annually.
Just like his work experience, K.C has demonstrated, and still shows a passion for lifelong learning. K.C. completed his Bachelor of Applied Science from Boise State University in 2006 combining environmental science, communications, and electronics principles. While serving in the Air Force, he completed his Masters of Science in Environmental Management studying the environmental policies that shape many of our federal organizations today. Currently, he is completing additional graduate work in Natural Resource Management at Utah State University and expects to graduate this year.
In his free time, K.C. enjoys the outdoors with his family and two dogs, hiking, trail running, Portland Timbers soccer, and helping out in his local community through serving on his Neighborhood Association.