The People

The People

We take the time to listen to you and to consider what your wants and needs are.  We believe in our mission, our values and care deeply about your experience.  We make things happen with a positive attitude toward action.  We sweat the details and also consider the big picture.  Our staff in every department has very little turn-over which translates to a seamless professional experience with everything we do.  We define customer service as a relentless pursuit of excellence in communication, follow-through and in exceeding expectations, and we act on it!

Meet Our Staff:

Rob Jolly - Director of The Nature Place, has a B.A. in Geology, has lead several small entrepreneurial endeavors for 6 years before joining the Colorado Outdoor Education Center and The Nature Place in 1988.  Rob has been instrumental in creating and adapting the innovative team and leadership development programs that utilize an understanding of natural, human and economic systems.  As Director, he continues to actively study social, economic, global business and environmental trends. He is also passionate designing & facilitating programs for TNP's corporate clients, sharing his knowledge about the local geology & natural history, providing astronomy sessions at our observatory, and enjoys telemark skiing, sailing and traveling with his wife.

Samantha Peck- Assistant Director,  After seven years as a military aviation officer, she and her family have made Colorado their home.  Sam graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York in 2004 and has been traveling the country ever since.  Sam has a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in comparative politics.  She has completed several military schools to include Military Intelligence Career Course, UH-60 flight training, SERE, Airborne, and winter survival training.  She enjoys hunting, fishing and hiking with her three boys.

Shelley Churchill joined The Nature Place in 2001 as our front desk and Office Manager. She has over 20 years experience in accounting, customer and guest services. She studied Business and Accounting at the Community College of Aurora. Shelley's friendliness, organization and enthusiasm contribute greatly to those she works with. Shelley loves spending time with her family and animals and enjoys hiking, camping and fishing.

Tristan Hales – Assistant Office Manager. Tristan was born in Texas, raised in Alaska and has lived many places in between. He found his home west of Pikes Peak just south of The Nature Place. He has been studying and practicing Organizational/Management Technologies, web design, robotics and programing for years. Tristan enjoys many of the local amenities like hiking, watching the chipmunks in his yard to driving the back roads and viewing the dark night sky.

Kitchen Staff. Our kitchen staff has over 50 years of experience cooking at The Nature Place. They work hard to accommodate special dietary requests and take pride in their craft. Guests regularly comment how delicious the meals are that were created from fresh ingredients.

Housekeeping. Our housekeeping staff assures the comfort of our guests by accommodating and anticipating needs in a prompt and courteous manner. They perform daily touch-ups, in addition to cleaning, making beds and caring for the rooms and facilities.   The team has over 40 years of experience taking care of our facility and guest needs.

Maintenance. Our maintenance staff is passionate about caring for our buildings and related systems. They go the extra mile to make it happen in a timely manner.

Staff Naturalist Biographies


Dick Coles: (B.S., Swarthmore College; M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University) Dick is the retired director of the Tyson Research Center and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. His professional specialty is the physiological ecology of birds and mammals, in particular thermoregulation in beavers. An avid birder since his mid-teens, he conducts semiannual bird censuses in the Oak-Hickory forest at Tyson and has extensive birding experience in Venezuela, Trinidad and Puerto Rico. He has also led nature-oriented trips in the Midwest, Costa Rica, Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands), the Peruvian Amazon, and Lesser Antilles. Dick has been our staff Ornithologist for over 25 years.

Chuck Olmsted: (B.A., Earlham College, M.S., University of Oklahoma, Ph.D., University of Colorado) Chuck is a retired Professor and Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Chuck's expertise is in the plants of Colorado and their interaction with the physical environment. He is active with the Colorado Wildlife Federation, the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and is currently a Regional Director to the National Wildlife Federation. Chuck has been our plant specialist on staff for over 25 years.

Sam Johnson (B.S. Dominican College, M.S., University of Colorado) Sam has been involved at The Colorado Springs School for over 20 years as a math and science teacher, Dean and Head of Upper School. He spent five summers teaching field ecology at Oxebow College in Michigan. He is an expert on the moths and butterflies of the Colorado region. Sam is an ecologist who also has a passion for singing, song writing and storytelling. Sam has been our General Ecologist and expert on Lepidoptera for over 7 years.

Rob Jolly wears many hats as Director of The Nature Place, one being a staff naturalist.  Rob canoed extensively in Canada and backpacked in various western states while growing up.  He has a B.A in Geology from Miami University, taught at the acclaimed High Trails Outdoor Education Center and at Big Spring boys' camp before becoming the Director of The Nature Place. He helped create the innovative team and leadership development programs that utilize an understanding of natural, human and economic systems. Telemark skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, sailing and rehabbing a 105-year-old house provide enjoyment when away from work. He continues to study the geologic history of the Pikes Peak region, and loves to share his knowledge about the natural history of central Colorado and providing astronomy workshops for groups at our observatory.