William William J. Bertschy, Ph.D.

William J. Bertschy founded the Mountains and Plains Institute for Lifelong Learning and Service in July of 2008. He retired from Colorado State University on December 31, 2008 having directed the Pingree Park Campus for more than three decades.

Bill received a Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in College Student Personnel Administration.  He also received a M.ED and BS from Colorado State University.  For the past 35 years, Bill was the Director of the Pingree Park Campus of Colorado State University.  During his long tenure, in the mid 1970’s he helped launch “Eco-Week” an environmental science program for local school district 6th grade students.  Bill also initiated Elderhostel Programs at Pingree in 1983. Pingree hosts these older adult programs in chamber music, birding, astronomy, and watercolor painting and many more exciting programs in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska.  As Director, Bill has also worked with thousands of CSU Warner College of Natural Resource Students attending four week summer field sessions at Pingree. 

The Hourglass Fire in July of 1994 nearly burned the Pingree Park Campus to the ground. Bill spearheaded the rebuilding efforts over a two year period resulting in many new cabins and a new classroom.  Anyone visiting Pingree today can see the work Bill put into preservation of the Koenig Homestead Property.  Through grants from the Colorado Historical Society, many buildings have been restored and a museum is still in development.

Bill served two terms on the Fort Collins City Council and served as Mayor Pro-Tem during his second term.  While on Council, he served as the Chair of the University Communities Coalition of the National League of Cities and represented Larimer County on a State Of Colorado Trade mission to Israel in 1999. For many years Bill has also served and continues to serve on County and City Boards and community organizations Boards of Directors.

Bill has traveled extensively worldwide. He has led students and others to Mexico and East Africa, most recently completing a service project in Tanzania that provided fresh water to a primary school serving 400 students.

Bill has lived in Fort Collins for most of his life.  He is a native of the state of Colorado, and his family’s association with Colorado goes back to the 1860’s when they settled in the Buena Vista area.

Ryan Kirkpatrick - Director of Operations Ryan Kirkpatrick, M.S.
Director of Operations

Ryan Kirkpatrick is the Director of Operations for MPILLS and has worked with Bill since 2003. Ryan has guided hundreds of skiing, hiking, bicycling, photography, bird watching, and intergenerational programs for Road Scholar along with the MPILLS Mount Kilimanjaro expedition and safari each year in Africa. Ryan oversees the 70+ Road Scholar/MPILLS programs operating each year, and is also the lead guide on-site for many active programs.

A native of Colorado, Ryan has a master’s in sports science, is a Wilderness First Responder, and a “Master Naturalist” for the city of Fort Collins. He is also a volunteer nordic ski ranger for the Colorado State Forest, and as a photographer is a member of Canon Professional Services.


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Tim Banks Tim Banks

Tim Banks graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s in wildlife biology and a master’s in outdoor recreation. He served for many years as a police officer, retiring in 2006 as the Chief of Police of the University of Wyoming.

Since retirement, Tim has pursued his love for birding and natural history. He served as president of the Laramie chapter of the Audubon Society for many years, and has conducted birding and ecology surveys for the Wyoming Fish and Game Department.

Drew Carlson - MPILLS Drew Carlson

Drew is a Denver-based professional photographer who has instructed many programs for Road Scholar and Mountains and Plains Institute.

His professional photography experience includes many disciplines such as wedding, automotive, boxing, landscape, and commercial photography for several top brands -- not too mention extensive video work. He is a favorite on Road Scholar programs for his ability to help participants learn more about their camera while improving their photography skills.

Drew says in describing his teaching, "I love being able to help people with their technical hurdles and translate what they see in front of them to beautiful works of art."

AnnMarie Kirkpatrick - MPILLS Instructor AnnMarie Kirkpatrick

AnnMarie Kirkpatrick has a passion to explore, travel, and share her love for the outdoors. She currently guides hiking programs and intergenerational programs for MPILLS from the Colorado mountains to the canyons of Utah. AnnMarie is also the Director of BASE Camp at Johnson Elementary in Fort Collins. She is certified in Emergency Response First Aid and CPR.

AnnMarie received her undergraduate degree from Kansas State University and completed a seven month study abroad program in Australia and Fiji. She also spent some time in South America learning the culture, climbing some mountains, and exploring the area. In her spare time AnnMarie enjoys running marathons, listening to music, backpacking, and skiing with her husband Ryan.

Peter McCarville - MPILLS Instructor Peter McCarville, M.S.

Peter is a practicing consulting geologist, geological guide, and educator living in Colorado for the past 33 years. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the Colorado College and his Master's degree in geology from the University of New Mexico, Peter worked for the federal government at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico.

Peter decided to return to Colorado and pursue a fantasy of being an organic farmer and living rurally. During this period he developed an organic vegetable farm, built and operated a guest house on the farm, and started guiding and teaching adults geology.

His interest in teaching adults has lead to guiding and program design for Mountains and Plains Institute (MPILLS). He leads hiking and skiing trips for MPILLS with cameo appearances on other programs to help explain the geology and natural history to guests. Peter emphasizes safety, fun, personal challenge, and education on the courses that he leads for MPILLS. “For me, the best reward in guiding guests is the fun I have sharing the beauty of the place I call home and conveying complex natural history in layman's terms.”

In addition to rocks, Peter's interests are in Colorado state history, including native cultures, skiing, hiking, resource and energy issues, food growing and preparation, green construction, baking, and living simply. He resides in rural western Colorado.

Courtney Petros Courtney Petros, M.Ed

Courtney is a Colorado native originally from Pueblo. She earned her bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from Colorado State University and her master's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She currently lives in Fort Collins where she teaches third grade at O'Dea CORE Knowledge Elementary School. In addition, Courtney also works as a group fitness instructor and SCUBA instructor.

Courtney loves spending time outdoors and enjoys all that this beautiful state has to offer, including climbing some of Colorado's majestic 14,000 ft. peaks, cycling, snowshoeing, and skiing. Courtney works mostly with the intergenerational programs.

Jan Rastall - MPILLS BASECAMP Instructor Jan Rastall, M.Ed

As a Master Naturalist and certified Wilderness First Responder, Jan Rastall has worked, played and raised a family in Fort Collins, Colorado. For 25 years, she worked for Colorado State University where she earned a B.S. and M.Ed. She is a former Outward Bound instructor and expedition co-leader for the university’s outdoor program.

Jan has logged over 15,000 miles walking, hiking and trekking in over 20 countries including New Zealand, Nepal and Argentina. She has climbed all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000+ft. mountains, and her high altitude peaks include Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa and the Cerro Aconcagua (22,800 ft.) in Argentina. Jan has cycled internationally in Italy, France, Greece, Ireland, and Costa Rica. She is also an avid trail-runner, a three-time Pikes Peak Ascent Masters Champion and has completed several ultra-marathons. Jan has over 20 years of experience working with adults in lifelong learning programs, and enjoys sharing her passion for outdoor ecology and conservation with others.

Sue Rusch Sue Rusch

Sue earned her BA in Music and Elementary Education from Clarke College. She has taught in the classroom in the Boulder area schools for fourteen years. She was also a member of the Boulder Music Teachers Association and has taught piano for six years. She is a substitute teacher during the school year.

Boulder has been Sue and her husband Dave's home since 1978. Sue loves the outdoors and enjoys biking, swimming, camping, and hiking. When the Colorado weather changes her focus is quilting, reading, and cross country skiing. However, her newest loves are two grandsons and three granddaughters. Sue works with the Rocky Mountain Intergenerational program but has also helped on hiking and biking programs.

(new bio page coming soon)