Meet Our Founders

Wally Van Sickle
Founder / President

Wally’s career in the world of natural history started at an early age with a preoccupation with dinosaurs.  This initial interest led to a couple of degrees in zoology and a lifelong interest in travel.  Thesis work conducted with mountain lions in southern Utah confirmed his passion for wildlife research and conservation.

Various trips to foreign countries with volunteer experiences in Kenya, Belize, and Australia led to the initial vision of IDEA WILD.  Wally was deeply impressed with the importance of “front lines” work being done in tropical countries by passionate dedicated individuals and he wanted to help them with their equipment needs.

Thirty years later he continues to be inspired by those working to conserve the many species and ecosystems on the planet and has provided equipment to over 7000 individuals in 140 countries.  While not working at the office, Wally enjoys time fossil hunting with friends, river rafting trips, snow skiing, meditation, and taking his dogs out for neighborhood walks.

A growth mindset continues to open up new opportunities and Wally enjoys sharing motivational presentations at youth camps and as a keynote speaker at conservation conferences.

Joni Triantis Van Sickle
Founder

Joni’s love of the wild started when her father took her on geology field trips all over the west.  She befriended many wild things during these years including her favorite horned toad, Betty.  Since then her love for animals and wildlife in general has continued to grow and she has cared for pet birds, reptiles, and many wonderful dogs and wears stylish animal print whenever she can. 

Joni has a graduate degree from the University of Wyoming and years of experience at Colorado State University (CSU) in studies focused on animal health and diagnostics.  She continues to keep both researchers and animal workers safe and healthy at CSU in her position as Occupational Health program administrator.  

She is passionate about youth and chairs Rotary leadership camps for middle school kids that inspire the future of the next generation of leaders, including environmental leaders. Hundreds of young hearts and minds have been touched by Joni’s dedication to the creating empathetic and open minded leaders. 

Joni is proud to be a co-founder of IDEA WILD and has served in every aspect of the organization since the beginning.  Her commitment to turning a wild idea into IDEA WILD has contributed greatly to the long term success of the organization.  She had already signed up for the next thirty years and believes the best is yet to come!

Meet Our Staff

Gailmarie Kimmel

Gailmarie joined the IDEA WILD team in January 2020.  She brings a B.S. in Biology, two Master’s degrees, and over four decades of leadership in non-profit and university programs focused on environmental sustainability.

Harrison Goodale

A professional bass player, Harrison co-founded Sustain Nature and Music, an innovative conservation non-profit.  He joined the IDEA WILD team in January 2020.

Meet Our Board

Betsy Burton
Owner, Lyons Farmette, Lyons, Colorado

I am honored to serve on IDEA WILD's board and am invested because of the incredible support that is given to scientists all over the world. To see all of the care and passion that these scientists have for biodiversity is so inspiring and it’s amazing how IDEA WILD helps to support them. IDEA WILD is the perfect catalyst to bring together those who would like to financially support biodiversity and those doing the work and research.

Alexander Higgins, J.D.
Board Chair, Attorney, Seattle, Washington

I joined the Board of IDEA WILD because I deeply believe in the intrinsic value of other forms of life -- our fellow passengers on the planet.  The Earth is not to serve human wants and needs.  It's home to millions of species -- each valuable for the amazing manifestation of natural selection.  I serve on IDEA WILD to help those who wish to protect biodiversity -- the true wealth of our planet.

Fred Lindzey
Professor of Zoology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming

In 1976, Fred Lindzey received his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from Oregon State University. Since that time, natural resource and wildlife managers representing every major agency have relied on him for advice.  Fred has served as a wildlife commissioner for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, assistant leader for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and is currently a professor emeritus of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming.   

Much of Fred’s research and expertise deals with large carnivores such as mountain lions, grizzly and black bears. Fred’s work has improved the way predators and many other animals are currently managed in the West. Fred has received numerous outstanding performance achievement awards relating to his conservation efforts. He has presented papers at symposia throughout the west and abroad, and his research is well represented in numerous wildlife management journals and books.  

Fred has mentored many graduate students who have had an exponential impact on the field of conservation biology.  He has been on the IDEA WILD board since the beginning in late 1991. He continues his conservation efforts by supporting IDEA WILD and converting his private ranch to a wildlife paradise including hosting breeding populations of the endangered Wyoming boreal toad. 

Chan Mortimer
Investment Advisor, Boulder, Colorado

Since I am a professional investor with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Planning, IDEA WILD has two attributes which are close to my heart. It is very economically efficient, and by addressing biodiversity it deals with one of the most important issues for our survival and for the future of our planet.

The unique plan of supplying equipment to scientific researchers worldwide, is very clever: the IDEA  WILD team is often able to procure the equipment at a discount, and the red tape and costs of international shipping are handled by the researchers.  As a result, the vast percentage of each dollar goes directly to the scientific program. 

When you support IDEA WILD, you can select your own project. And you can often contact the researchers for progress reports, and even visit them to see them in action.  My family has donated far more money to IDEA WILD than to any other non-profit.

Jim Quinlan
Owner, Jax Outdoor Gear & Farm and Ranch, Fort Collins, Colorado

As an entrepreneur, I focus most of my time and work figuring out ways to better serve JAX customers to help them get their projects done and get outdoors having fun. But I like to direct a portion of the proceeds from my company to effective conservation efforts because I understand that my business, our employees, our customers, my family, and future generations all require a healthy, diverse biosphere.  IDEA WILD’s program is a local nonprofit which offers our company a unique and effective means to empower like-minded individuals around the world to study ecosystems, educate people, and help protect the life-support system that nature provides.

Rich Reading
Director of Research and Conservation, Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster, Colorado

I am invested in the success of IDEA WILD, because it offers one of the best methods available to empower conservationists in the developing world.  These often unsung heroes and sheroes of our planet are on the front lines of efforts to conserve the world's biological diversity, but often lack relatively simple equipment to do their jobs most effectively.  IDEA WILD empowers them to do so.

Kate Readio
Manager, Nature’s Own, Boulder, Colorado

IDEA WILD gives wildlife biologists the tools they need to study endangered species and preserve habitats and biodiversity. That gives me hope.