After more than 35 years — nearly the last 30 of them as its executive director — Canyonlands Field Institute cofounder Karla Joy VanderZanden will retire at the end of June. Sort of.
VanderZanden in a letter to CFI members will remain as a founding director on a part-time basis. “I am enthusiastic about being able to focus on selected ventures, “ she wrote. “Especially the completion of modest improvements at Professor Valley Field Camp that will increase accessibility, shelter, and security while demonstrating conservation practices. Best of all, I will still get out in the field now and then as a naturalist guide.”
VanderZanden said she was “proud of CFI’s many accomplishments over the years, in particular the many students and young professionals that have had positive life changing experiences with us.” She said the children and former guides often send CFI an update on their lives and express how the institute impacted them.
Associate Director Kate Niederehe will assume the top executive role on an interim basis beginning in July. Board Chairperson Dee Garceau praised Niederehe, who has worked her way through the ranks, and who previously led the Youth Garden Project in a temporary role, and as a naturalist guide for CFI. Her goal is to work as a chief financial officer once she earns her degree in Accounting, which means CFI will launch a national search for a fulltime executive director.
VanderZanden said she has come to rely on Niederehe and praised CFI’s leadership and its board of directors. “I deeply believe in the future of Canyonlands Field Institute,” she wrote. “Our mission remains true to educate and inspire the next generation to care for each other and our wild places on public and native lands.”