Four years ago, Lisa Huttinger was living in Jackson, Wyo., when she responded to a job opportunity at the Environmental Resource Center in Ketchum. Since that time she has worked within the Wood River Valley nonprofit community as an educator, promoter and volunteer.
The 40-year old Dayton, Ohio, native was raised in part in El Paso, Texas, and had been living in the West for several years pursuing a career in the natural sciences before coming to Ketchum. She worked as a nanny, chef, wedding photographer, construction worker and wildlife guide while working on a master's degree with a focus on experiential environmental education from the University of Wyoming.
"I did many of the things people do in ski towns to get along before the right thing comes along," she said.
Before heading west, Huttinger worked for several years in New York City at the Phoenix House and for the Children of Alcoholics Foundation, learning the administrative side of the nonprofit world. She also volunteered to take kids from Harlem and the Bronx on nature hikes for the Sierra Club's Inner City Outing Program.
Huttinger said an experience while car camping with her family in the mountains of New Mexico may have sparked her career choice.
"I remember waking up in the middle of the night under all of these amazing stars," she said.
After high school, she attended the Teton Science School in Jackson before moving on to the University of Wyoming to finish her degree.
By the time she took the job at the ERC in Ketchum, she had developed a passionate interest in outdoor education. For the past four years she has served as education coordinator at the ERC, expanding in-school and summer programs, including the Shooting Star Sleep Out portion of the ERC's summer camp. In two weeks, she will lead a Beaver Walk through Greenhorn Gulch south of Ketchum.
She said one of her proudest achievements at the ERC was developing the Science After School Program, which recently taught a group of fourth- and fifth-graders the ins and outs of environmental restoration.
The students toured the Wood River Land Trust's Draper Preserve near Hailey and identified a weeded area that could use some attention. Under Huttinger's and Land Trust officials' direction, the students evaluated the area, performed an environmental assessment and prepared a remediation plan, eventually enlisting nurseries in replanting the area.
"The ERC's programs are very hands-on," said Huttinger.
Huttinger also served as chair of the committee to bring a master naturalist program to the valley, and had volunteered for Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, developing a Nordic team, which will send its first team member to the Special Olympics this winter.
Huttinger will begin a transition next week from the ERC to the Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence, taking her experience working with nonprofits to a new venue. She will serve the Advocates as events and fundraising coordinator.
"I like doing new things," she said. "The Advocates approach issues of domestic violence from many angles. We provide direct services to women, but also are committed to educational programs with children.
"In the nonprofit world, there are many opportunities to do many different things. It is all about educating the community about what your nonprofit does in the community."