our team

Darby Knoll

executive director

Darby’s joy for the outdoors started at a young age somewhere between the mountains and rivers of Teton Valley, Idaho and northern New Mexico. In 8th grade, while touring MSU with her brother,  she learned that Bridger Bowl Ski Area was a 20-minute drive from campus and decided that MSU was the school for her. With the goal of attending veterinary school, Darby earned a dual degree in Microbiology and Animal Science but her free time was quickly focused on making Backcountry Squatters the best club that it could be. Her attention to detail, commitment to the shared vision, and ‘get it done’ attitude made Darby a valuable asset to the initial success of the MSU club and has made her the right person to take charge of this nonprofit.

She thrives on a passion to share her greatest outdoor experiences with others. Darby realizes that she is lucky to have all of the opportunities that Bozeman has to offer, and hopes to make outdoor recreation more attainable for young women across the country. Since moving to Bozeman 5 years ago, she has realized that this is her home and prides herself in the fact that one day she is going to be a Bozeman mom who shreds the ridge with her kiddos.

Through her experience as an executive member of the original Backcountry Squatters, she learned that her future lies within educating others and has decided to pursue it as a career. When she is not substitute teaching in Bozeman Public Schools, you can find Darby in a coffee shop where she will talk to you about Backcountry Squatters or the love of her life Scout, a female black lab, and you will thoroughly enjoy it!

 

board members

Kelly Balfanz

president

Kelly graduated from Montana State University in the spring of 2019 with a degree in Business marketing. Her passion for the outdoors developed at a young age growing up in the mountains of Colorado. While attending school at Montana State University, Kelly was introduced to Backcountry Squatters her freshman year by a friend from high school. Her realization of the importance of camaraderie among women in the outdoor industry led her to being an active leader in Backcountry Squatters club in college and a key asset in the development of the nonprofit after graduation.  Kelly works as a commercial fisherman in Alaska during the summers and a full-time alpine ski coach in Colorado during the winters. Her free time is spent doing free-lance marketing work for a number of companies and sneaking in a mountain bike ride whenever possible. 

Kit Kocha

treasurer

Kit learned first-hand the powerful impact that membership in adventure based communities can have. Her high school participation on trail crews with the Student Conservation Association and in the semester program Conserve School instilled within Kit a strong love of nature and commitment to environmental stewardship. These guiding values carried her from Wisconsin to Bozeman where she earned a degree in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on Bio-resources Engineering. She has worked to support new adventurers as a summer camp counselor, wilderness canoe trip leader, downhill mountain bike instructor, recreation therapy volunteer to children and adults with disabilities, and mentor to at-risk youth. Through her leadership role in Backcountry Squatters, Kit has made many life-long friends, mentors, and memories.

Andie Creel

secretary

Andie is a graduate student at Yale University getting her masters degree in environmental economics. She has been a part of Backcountry Squatters since the very beginning, and has gained professional skills and personal confidence from the club and nonprofit. These lessons have assisted her when working as a journalist across Montana, testifying in front of state legislators, coaching the Big Sky Freeride team, and creating space for herself at an Ivy League graduate school. Her favorite parts of being on the board is gaining energy from a new member’s passion and expanding the club to different communities.

volunteers

Julia Burnham

executive assistant

Julia grew up in the Cascades spending every moment she could playing in the mountains and finding new areas to explore. She moved to Bozeman after taking a gap year at Stratton Mountain School in Southern Vermont to focus on nordic ski racing when she realized she needed to be back in the West with less bugs and pointier mountains. She’s finishing up her degrees in English Writing and Sociology and then will be attending Law School to pursue a career in either Environmental Law. Julia plans to tackle climate issues through communication platforms.

 Regardless of where she is, she plans on always being involved with the Backcountry Squatters and living out the mission of the foundation. Julia believes in the way Backcountry Squatters gives courage to and illuminates purpose to women, which continues to push her and keep her honest as she continues her journey through life.