Meet the WFM RD&A Staff

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.

Vacant - Program Manager
TBD


 

Vacant - Deputy Program Manager
TBD

 

Tami Parkinson - Lead Fire Application Specialist
McCall, ID

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
Salem, OR

Morgan Pence

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

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.

Kim Ernstrom - Lead Fire Application Specialist
Boise, ID

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
Payson, AZ

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
Union, SC

Reggie Goolsby

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 Schueller

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
Boise, ID

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
Bend, OR

Nicole Vaillant

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.

 

Wes Hall - Fire Management Specialist
Ruidoso, NM

Wes Hall

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
Atlanta, GA

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
Moose, WY

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 - Lead Fire Management Specialist
Bruce Crossing, MI

Rick Mowery

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.

 

Wendy Detwiler - Fire Management Specialist
Bend, OR

Wendy started her career in 1999 working as a recreation seasonal for the Willamette National Forest. In 2000 she accepted a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) position in fire with the Prineville BLM. Since that time, she has worked on type 2 hand crews, hot shots, wildland fire modules, and helitack. She has also spent nearly seven years working in fuels as a Fuels Technician, Fuels AFMO, and most recently a District Fuels Planner. While in the SCEP program, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Forest Recreation Management from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in Forest Resources/ Fire Ecology from University of Idaho. She continues her passion for learning as a graduate student in Oregon State University’s Geography Department working toward a graduate certificate in GIS. Outside of work she spends her time with her husband and two whippets (Speedy and Willow) hiking, biking, and running the trails in Central Oregon. 

Sarah Synowiec - Fire Application Specialist
Denver, CO

Sarah Synowiec

Sarah comes to the RDA after serving as the Hazardous Fuels Management Specialist/ Fire Ecologist for the Rocky Mountain Region outside of Denver, Colorado since 2015. Sarah started her career with the Forest Service in 2001 as a District Forester – within the first 6 months, someone handed her a drip torch and the rest is history! After 4 years of working to integrate fuels objectives into vegetation management activities, she took the leap and moved full time into an engine operator position to better understand how fire “worked”. Before heading to the Regional Office, Sarah worked across 4 regions on engines, as a dozer operator, Wildfire Use module assistant superintendent (when that’s what they were called!) and served as a District AFMO-fuels. Sarah hopes to always be a “student of fire” and enjoys the intricacies of NEPA, WFDSS and fire behavior modeling. She shares her home in the Colorado front range with her husband, Scott, and their 3 furry friends, Tsuga, Massey and Kiszka. 
 

 

 

Jonah Vaughn - Fire Management Specialist
Missoula, MT

Jonah Vaughn

Jonah was born and raised in Missoula, MT where he graduated with a B.S. in Forestry at the University of Montana. He started his career in Fire Management at 18 years old with the MT state DNRC, moved over to the Forest Service in Idaho to help establish the Selway Type 1 Wildland Fire Module and then back to Western Montana. After 15 years in Primary Fire he moved into Fuels as a Fuels Specialist on the Bitterroot NF. Throughout his tenure in Fire Management he was constantly dabbling in GIS and Technology Transfer with the goal of improving wildland fire response. To this day, his favorite qualification is Type 3 Planning Section Chief. The transition into WFMRD&A in 2023 seems like a perfect fit. He still resides in Missoula and enjoys rafting, ice hockey, and adventuring with his wife Shannon and pup Tica. 
 

 

 

Beth Buchanan - Fire Management Specialist
Roanoke, VA

Beth Buchanan

Beth Buchanan comes to WFMRDA from USFS Region 8, where she had been the Regional Fire Ecologist for most of her career. In that position, she focused on monitoring, teaching and science delivery, and collaboration. Beth designed and managed the Forest Service’s only region-wide fire effects monitoring effort. As part of that, she has taught field and virtual monitoring and data analysis courses. She also helps teach and coordinate Rx310 and M580 among other NWCG classes. Promoting fire science at all levels and across boundaries is important to Beth and she has been actively involved with three of JFSP’s fire science exchanges as well as Fire Learning Networks across the southern US. Additionally, she helped bring science to her region’s RT300 Burn Boss Refresher, which in R8 morphed into a 3-day interagency training event with more than 400 attendees. In this position, Beth will be focusing on the FTEM software. She looks forward to taking a deep dive into the program, as well as expanding her network by functioning as a liaison with researchers interested in the data this software produces. Outside of work, she enjoys training and showing her two horses. She and her husband keep busy with their two daughters and a grandbaby, plus all the chores associated with farm life. 
 

 

 

Chris Moore - Fire Management Specialist (Detail)
Portland, OR

Chris Moore

Chris started his fire career accidently in 1997 at Grand Canyon National Park. Working in fire quickly became a great way to fund Chris’ world travels. Seeing mountain gorillas in Uganda, practicing yoga with Indian gurus, and living in a shack on Maui were a direct result of spending summers working for the National Park Service for 10 years and the BLM at Alaska Fire Service for 15 years. Chris moved to Alaska in 2007 and began working towards FBAN and LTAN. Chris became the Fire Analyst at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center in March of 2020. In 2022, Chris traded winters of -40 F and summers full of mosquitos for good coffee and rainy winters by moving to Portland, OR to be the Fire Analyst at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. 
 

 

 

Heidi Leritz - Program Assistant
Missoula, MT

Heidi Leritz

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
Boise, ID

KC Shedden

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.