WEN staff

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Deb Fassnacht (she/her)

Executive Director

Deb camped, fished, and played with her big family along the Sun River while growing up in Great Falls, Montana. She has been gravitating to water and nature ever since. Deb holds a Master's in Education, Bachelor’s in Forestry, Natural Resource Conservation, and her Secondary Science teaching certification from the University of Montana. Deb is one of the founders of the organization, along with Wendy Berthold  and Eric Ringelberg. What began as a volunteer stream monitoring effort in 1996 based in Deb’s home, has grown into a successful non-profit organization focusing on watersheds, groundwater, and wetlands education. Deb brings science teaching and education/outreach experience to WEN from previous agency and nonprofit work. When not at the river or neighborhood creek, Deb enjoys hiking, skiing, and sailing on Flathead Lake with her husband, Henry, family, and friends.

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Sara McComas

Grants & Programs Administrator

After completing her B.S. in biology in Tacoma, WA, Sara moved to Seattle where she met her husband, Josh- a recent transplant from Montana. Five years later they relocated to Missoula, where she completed her second degree in Resource Conservation at UM and completed a grant writing internship at WEN. A job opportunity for her husband returned them to Washington, but another five years later they were back in beautiful Missoula. Sara has enjoyed working with several conservation- and education-minded non-profits during her two tours in Missoula- including Montana Water Trust, Montana Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation and, or course, WEN.
Sara now works at WEN part-time, immersing herself in grant administration, bookkeeping, and general program administration. When not in the office, Sara tries to keep up with her 8-year-old son, adopted animals (one tenacious terrier, one fat tabby, and one curious calico), three chickens, and never-ending home remodeling projects. In her rare spare moments, she can be found in the garden or reading.

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Aissa Wise (she/her)

Stream Team Coordinator

Originally from Washington State, Aissa found her place in Montana while she was attending the University of Montana-Western, where she earned a BS in Environmental Science and Geology. Her love and curiosity for the natural world started early and has only grown deeper the more she’s learned and experienced. Her passion is teaching and learning about the importance of healthy watersheds all while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. Aissa loves to engage and make connections with folks in the Missoula area! If she’s not in the office, you’ll find Aissa guiding multi-day canoe trips on the Missouri River with Missouri River Outfitters, practicing yoga, tending to her many plants (inside and out), or researching her next adventure. Aissa is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

 
 
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Stephie Novak (she/her)

Stream Team Field Assistant

Stephie graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Wildlife Biology. She grew up in Rock creek, Mt. and has spent the majority of her life in the wilderness and around the local rivers and streams. She enjoys hiking, biking, and just being outside and loves that she can have fun working outside with WEN! Stephie started out as an amazing WEN intern, we are happy to have her on the team. Stephie is certified in Wilderness First Aid.

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Brook Bauer (she/her)

Communications Coordinator 

Brook found herself in Missoula after completing her undergraduate degree in Earth Science and Communication Design at Quest University, Canada. Having grown up in Portland, Oregon, with its close proximity to Mount Hood and the Pacific Ocean, has given her the privilege to spend a decent amount of her time enjoying the local hydrology and geology. Whether it's on top of mountains or in the ocean, she loves to see the hydrologic cycle do its magic! With a drive to learn more about the hydrogeology in Missoula, Brook is currently working with WEN as a communication coordinator to help make sure all of the fabulous knowledge about the creek makes it to our community.  

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Al Pak (he/him)

Website Manager

Al started volunteering with WEN in 2008 while attending the University of Montana (studying Geography and GIS). Now he is helping WEN update their website with more macroinvertebrate information for curious minds. Al  currently works for Rhithron Associates as a biological technician and enjoys going to the dog park with Ripley on their lunch breaks. 

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Cassie Sevigny (she/her)

Rockstar Volunteer 

Cassie has been drawn to water since childhood. Coming from Seattle to attend University of Montana in 2014, WEN provided a way to connect with her new landscape and participate in local science. She wrote her senior projects on water resource education for kids and the economics of bottled water. She graduated with BA's in English (Creative Writing) and Economics in 2017, and then served as an AmeriCorps volunteer for WEN in 2018. She earned her Master's in Economics with an environmental focus in 2020, during which she led communications for the UM Bridges graduate student project Let's Talk Water MT. In the summer of 2020, she was an Artist in Residence as a writer for the Rattlesnake Creek dam removal project with Trout Unlimited and Open AIR MT. She also works as a science communicator and economic Research Assistant for the Connections Between Water + Rural Production project. She now works as a lab tech at Rhithron Associates, Inc. Caddisflies are her favorite aquatic insect. 

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Rennie Winkelman (she/her)
(and Ripley)

Rockstar Volunteer

Rennie has been a life-long lover of rivers, fish, bugs, and everything water. After moving to Montana from Colorado, she finished her Bachelor’s in Aquatic Wildlife Biology and a Masters in Education from UM. She has worked for labs in Montana and Colorado doing fisheries research and aquatic invertebrate identification. She brings her aquatic bug expertise as well as a love of working with students to WEN’s programs. In her free time she is always accompanied by the best dog, Ripley. They love to hike, fish, kayak, garden, and turn over rocks to look for bugs!