William William J. Bertschy, Ph.D.

William J. Bertschy founded the Mountains and Plains Institute for Lifelong Learning and Service in July of 2008. He retired from Colorado State University on December 31, 2008 having directed the Pingree Park Campus for more than three decades.

Bill received a Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in College Student Personnel Administration.  He also received a M.ED and BS from Colorado State University.  For the past 35 years, Bill was the Director of the Pingree Park Campus of Colorado State University.  During his long tenure, in the mid 1970’s he helped launch “Eco-Week” an environmental science program for local school district 6th grade students.  Bill also initiated Elderhostel Programs at Pingree in 1983. Pingree hosts these older adult programs in chamber music, birding, astronomy, and watercolor painting and many more exciting programs in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska.  As Director, Bill has also worked with thousands of CSU Warner College of Natural Resource Students attending four week summer field sessions at Pingree. 

The Hourglass Fire in July of 1994 nearly burned the Pingree Park Campus to the ground. Bill spearheaded the rebuilding efforts over a two year period resulting in many new cabins and a new classroom.  Anyone visiting Pingree today can see the work Bill put into preservation of the Koenig Homestead Property.  Through grants from the Colorado Historical Society, many buildings have been restored and a museum is still in development.

Bill served two terms on the Fort Collins City Council and served as Mayor Pro-Tem during his second term.  While on Council, he served as the Chair of the University Communities Coalition of the National League of Cities and represented Larimer County on a State Of Colorado Trade mission to Israel in 1999. For many years Bill has also served and continues to serve on County and City Boards and community organizations Boards of Directors.

Bill has traveled extensively worldwide. He has led students and others to Mexico and East Africa, most recently completing a service project in Tanzania that provided fresh water to a primary school serving 400 students.

Bill has lived in Fort Collins for most of his life.  He is a native of the state of Colorado, and his family’s association with Colorado goes back to the 1860’s when they settled in the Buena Vista area.

Ryan Kirkpatrick - Director of Operations Ryan Kirkpatrick, M.S.
Director of Operations

Ryan Kirkpatrick is the Director of Operations for MPILLS and has worked with Bill since 2003. Ryan has guided hundreds of skiing, hiking, bicycling, photography, bird watching, and intergenerational programs for Road Scholar along with the MPILLS Mount Kilimanjaro expedition and safari each year in Africa. Ryan oversees the 70+ Road Scholar/MPILLS programs operating each year, and is also the lead guide on-site for many active programs. Ryan also does all of the graphic design for MPILLS, including the schedule of programs you receive each year.

A native of Colorado, Ryan has a master’s in sports science, is a Wilderness First Responder, and a “Master Naturalist” for the city of Fort Collins. He is also a volunteer nordic ski ranger for the Colorado State Forest, and as a photographer is a member of Canon Professional Services. In addition, he is an ASEP certified instructor and received his Level 1 USATF Coaching Certification from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.


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Tim Banks Tim Banks

Tim Banks graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s in wildlife biology and a master’s in outdoor recreation. He served for many years as a police officer, retiring in 2006 as the Chief of Police of the University of Wyoming.

Since retirement, Tim has pursued his love for birding and natural history. He served as president of the Laramie chapter of the Audubon Society for many years, and has conducted birding and ecology surveys for the Wyoming Fish and Game Department.

Drew Carlson - MPILLS Drew Carlson

Drew is a Denver-based professional photographer who has instructed many programs for Road Scholar and Mountains and Plains Institute.

His professional photography experience includes many disciplines such as wedding, automotive, boxing, landscape, and commercial photography for several top brands -- not too mention extensive video work. He is a favorite on Road Scholar programs for his ability to help participants learn more about their camera while improving their photography skills.

Drew says in describing his teaching, "I love being able to help people with their technical hurdles and translate what they see in front of them to beautiful works of art."

Kevin Cook - MPILLS Instructor Kevin Cook, M.S.

Kevin J. Cook came to Colorado in 1974 to attend Western State College in Gunnison where he earned his B.A. in biology; he later earned his M.S. in wildlife biology from Colorado State University.  He spent five seasons as an interpretive naturalist with the National Park Service before establishing himself as a self-employed writer-naturalist.  Since 1975, he has published nearly 7,000 pieces of writing and has conducted nearly 200 wildlife observation tours, half of which have been for Elderhostel. 

Kevin's first great life passion is to find and experience firsthand everything that lives in Colorado; his second great life passion is to share that life with others.

Mary Lou Frost - MPILLS Instructor Mary Lou Frost

Retired public school teacher of 31 years experience, and an avid photographer over a lifetime.  For the last 25 years Mary Lou Frost has focused on worldwide nature photography.

Mary Lou has extensive experience in both film and digital photography.  Recently she has taught beginning instruction on Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  As president of the Buffalo Museum of Science Camera Club, Mary Lou has coached photographers at all levels of expertise. 

Gary Isrealson Gary Israelson

Gary Israelson has been leading Road Scholar Skiing, Bicycling, and Hiking trips for the last 15 years, and has led over 30 skiing trips in Colorado. 

Gary has been skiing for over fifty-five years, and is a past member of the National Ski Patrol, and the Professional Ski Instructor Association.  He resides in Boulder, Colorado.

David Kaslow - MPILLS Instructor David Kaslow

Brooklyn-born David Kaslow, Denver University Horn Professor Emeritus, has been fortunate to enjoy three careers. The first was as a fulltime symphony musician, playing for eighteen years in such orchestras as New York City's Little Orchestra Society, the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra (Toronto), and Washington DC’s National Symphony Orchestra. The second was as Professor of Horn at Denver University's Lamont School of Music, where for thirty years he taught horn, chamber music, theory, and various academic courses.

Kaslow’s third incarnation is as a writer. He is the author of two well-received books, "Living Dangerously with the Horn: Thoughts on Life and Art" and "With Aspirations High: Discussions and Exercises for Musicians," both of which are published by Birdalone Books. Additionally, he has contributed liner notes for several First Edition Music cds and is an arts correspondent for the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. He is passionate about teaching for Road Scholar, which he has been privileged to do for nearly forty years.

AnnMarie Kirkpatrick - MPILLS Instructor AnnMarie Kirkpatrick

AnnMarie Kirkpatrick has a passion to explore, travel, and share her love for the outdoors. She currently guides hiking programs and intergenerational programs for MPILLS from the Colorado mountains to the canyons of Utah. AnnMarie is also the Director of BASE Camp at Johnson Elementary in Fort Collins. She is certified in Emergency Response First Aid and CPR.

AnnMarie received her undergraduate degree from Kansas State University and completed a seven month study abroad program in Australia and Fiji. She also spent some time in South America learning the culture, climbing some mountains, and exploring the area. In her spare time AnnMarie enjoys running marathons, listening to music, backpacking, and skiing with her husband Ryan.

Peter McCarville - MPILLS Instructor Peter McCarville, M.S.

Peter is a practicing consulting geologist, geological guide, and educator living in Colorado for the past 33 years. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the Colorado College and his Master's degree in geology from the University of New Mexico, Peter worked for the federal government at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico.

Peter decided to return to Colorado and pursue a fantasy of being an organic farmer and living rurally. During this period he developed an organic vegetable farm, built and operated a guest house on the farm, and started guiding and teaching adults geology.

His interest in teaching adults has lead to guiding and program design for Mountains and Plains Institute (MPILLS). He leads hiking and skiing trips for MPILLS with cameo appearances on other programs to help explain the geology and natural history to guests. Peter emphasizes safety, fun, personal challenge, and education on the courses that he leads for MPILLS. “For me, the best reward in guiding guests is the fun I have sharing the beauty of the place I call home and conveying complex natural history in layman's terms.”

In addition to rocks, Peter's interests are in Colorado state history, including native cultures, skiing, hiking, resource and energy issues, food growing and preparation, green construction, baking, and living simply. He resides in rural western Colorado.

Bob Molison - MPILLS Bob Molison D.M.A.

A native Iowan, Bob received degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory and the M.M. Degree in Performance from Yale University School of Music. After teaching high school in Hawaii and playing professionally (clarinet) in the Honolulu Symphony, he studied choral conducting privately in Philadelphia. He completed the doctoral degree in Choral Music in 1970 at the University of Illinois.

Bob has been Director of Choral Activities at Brown University, Colorado State University, and retired in 2000 after 21 years as Professor of Music at Iowa State University (Ames). While at ISU Bob led choral tours throughout the U.S. and abroad, and prepared choirs for performances with major international symphony orchestras. He was the founding director of the Providence Singers and has served as director of the Des Moines Choral Society and the Greeley Chorale.

Since his retirement from teaching Bob has conducted chamber choirs and served on the boards of music organizations in Fort Collins. He has been a lecturer for Road Scholar programs at the Central City Opera and the Boulder and Aspen festivals. He has directed summer choral Road Scholar programs at Pingree Park for six years. Bob is an enthusiastic skier and hiker and is "nuts about Colorado".

Mark Opincariu Mark Opincariu RN

Mark Opincariu holds a BS in Wildlife Biology from CSU (1993), and works as a naturalist, teacher and backcountry guide. He is on the faculty at Colorado Mountain College, Summit Campus; where he teaches outdoor education and field biology courses. He recently obtained an associate degree in Nursing from Colorado Mountain College and has earned his RN license.

Mark lives in Salida where his daughters, Jana and Lucy, join him in the summer months to play in the backcountry and study natural history.

Courtney Petros Courtney Petros, M.Ed

Courtney is a Colorado native originally from Pueblo. She earned her bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from Colorado State University and her master's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She currently lives in Fort Collins where she teaches third grade at O'Dea CORE Knowledge Elementary School. In addition, Courtney also works as a group fitness instructor and SCUBA instructor.

Courtney loves spending time outdoors and enjoys all that this beautiful state has to offer, including climbing some of Colorado's majestic 14,000 ft. peaks, cycling, snowshoeing, and skiing. Courtney works mostly with the intergenerational programs.

Jan Rastall - MPILLS BASECAMP Instructor Jan Rastall, M.Ed

As a Master Naturalist and certified Wilderness First Responder, Jan Rastall has worked, played and raised a family in Fort Collins, Colorado. For 25 years, she worked for Colorado State University where she earned a B.S. and M.Ed. She is a former Outward Bound instructor and expedition co-leader for the university’s outdoor program.

Jan has logged over 15,000 miles walking, hiking and trekking in over 20 countries including New Zealand, Nepal and Argentina. She has climbed all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000+ft. mountains, and her high altitude peaks include Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa and the Cerro Aconcagua (22,800 ft.) in Argentina. Jan has cycled internationally in Italy, France, Greece, Ireland, and Costa Rica. She is also an avid trail-runner, a three-time Pikes Peak Ascent Masters Champion and has completed several ultra-marathons. Jan has over 20 years of experience working with adults in lifelong learning programs, and enjoys sharing her passion for outdoor ecology and conservation with others.

Sue Rusch Sue Rusch

Sue earned her BA in Music and Elementary Education from Clarke College. She has taught in the classroom in the Boulder area schools for fourteen years. She was also a member of the Boulder Music Teachers Association and has taught piano for six years. She is a substitute teacher during the school year.

Boulder has been Sue and her husband Dave's home since 1978. Sue loves the outdoors and enjoys biking, swimming, camping, and hiking. When the Colorado weather changes her focus is quilting, reading, and cross country skiing. However, her newest loves are two grandsons and three granddaughters. Sue works with the Rocky Mountain Intergenerational program but has also helped on hiking and biking programs.

Robert Winslow - MPILLS Photography Instructor Robert Winslow, M.S.

Robert is an internationally known nature photographer with thousands of published images. He holds a master's degree in Biology and taught as a full time faculty member at Idaho State University for six years. Since moving to Durango, CO in 1981, Robert has been a full time freelance photographer. His work has appeared in/on many books, magazines, gift items and in over 20 different calendars in one year. His photos have been used in national ad campaigns by such diverse entities as Adobe, Amtrak, National Audubon Society, The National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy and Phillips Petroleum.

Robert runs customized individual and private group photo tours to select locations around the world. He has won numerous photo awards including Grand Prize winner in the National Wildlife Cover Photo Contest out of over 10,000 entries. He is also the First Place Winner in the Wildlife Category In Outdoor Photographer's Magical Adventures Photo Contest.