× Close Become a Member

Kelsey Kirkwood

Kelsey Kirkwood had never been west of Illinois when she decided to attend college in Colorado. A year later she was driving north along I-25 eyes glued to the window, staring at the Rocky Mountains on her way to orientation at Colorado State University. At CSU, Kelsey studied Natural Resources, Recreation, & Tourism. Here she met life-changing individuals who set her on a path of environmental education and international travel.  

For ten years, Kelsey worked as an outdoor educator and adventure guide in Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Peru, and China before returning to Colorado to work with youth in environmental education in her local Salida community. While working in education was very fulfilling, after a decade of this work, it was time for a change. In 2021, Kelsey landed a fellowship through Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to work with Colorado Open Lands in land conservation. This serendipitous change in a career path has led her on an exciting trajectory in protecting land from development and supporting working lands in Colorado. 

In 2023, Colorado Open Lands worked closely with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and other partners to protect the Hudson Ranch, in Pueblo County, CO, in perpetuity with a conservation easement. This success led Kelsey to learn more about RMFU and sparked her desire to participate in the fellowship program.  

Moving forward, Kelsey hopes to continue her work with Colorado Open Lands, seeing easements as one of many tools that can benefit landowners in Colorado. She hopes this fellowship with RMFU can broaden her knowledge of working lands in the West and learn what other tools can also benefit landowners as they continue to do their good work.