Our Staff

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 Bennett Knox—Parks Administrator

Bennett received a B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation, followed by a M.E.M. at Duke University in Resource Ecology. He is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). When Bennett isn’t overseeing the day-to-day operations of the forest, he enjoys cooking ethnic cuisine, playing guitar, and keeping himself fluent inpracticing his Russian.

Programs Staff

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  Jessica Kane—Program Manager

Jessica received a degree in Environmental Studies from Eckerd College in Florida. Since receiving her degree, she has also received certifications in environmental education, CPR, and scuba! When she’s not planning and coordinating the forest’s programs, she’s exercising, hiking, and gathering with her friends. A fun fact she wishes to share with the world is that she spent 1 month living 10 miles down in the Grand Canyon with the Havasupai!, and  Wwhen asked why she loves working for JMF; she stated that “bringing new experiences” to children that who aren’t normally out in nature is not only super fun but also satisfying.

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 David Grissom—Recreation Supervisor

David attended Murray State University, where he received degrees in recreation and leisure studies with an emphasis on outdoor recreation. In addition to his degrees, David is certified in First Aid/CPR and is an American Canoe Association Level 2 River Instructor. As the recreation supervisor, David trains, schedules, and supervises seasonal and full-time staff for the programs department. When David isn’t working at the forest, he enjoys cooking, backpacking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. A fun fact about David is that he was once the drummer in his high school’s Ska band! When asked why he loves JMF, he stated that the forest has many recreation options for the citizens of Louisville, which is rare for urban areas.

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 Christa Weidner—Naturalist

Christa graduated from Bellarmine University with a major in math and a minor in biology. At the forest, her main responsibilities are the Environmental Education programs and ECHO school program.  She also oversees the education animals, Environmental Education Center, Nature Explore Classroom and Nature Play Areas.  When she’s not overseeing the forest’s outstanding education program, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, baking, and birding. A fun fact that she wishes the world to know is that she studied wildlife management in Kenya. Christa’s love of the forest stems from her first job at JMF as a seasonal employee.  It was here that she quickly discovered that she wanted to be in the field of Environmental Education. Christa continued in the field for several years before she was lucky enough to come back to JMF as a full time Naturalist. Little did she know how much impact working at JMF would have on her life. She met her husband here, and has since had two beautiful children and has met many wonderful people along the way. All because of a seasonal position she accepted years ago.

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 Matt Douthitt—Naturalist

Matt received his bachelors in Youth Ministry and Education from Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee. Deeply involved with the public programs at Jefferson Memorial Forest, he holds many certifications revolving around outdoor recreation, including wilderness medicine, river canoeing, swift water rescue, challenge course instructor, First Aid/CPR, and archery. When he’s not running the public programs of the forest, Matt enjoys whitewater canoeing, sailing, carpentry, and writing. When asked for a fun fact about himself, Matt stated that for the past 4 years he has been building a 16’ wooden sailboat in his garage.

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 Ginny Delaney—Naturalist

Ginny received a Bachelors in special education and learning and behavior disorders at Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky. She then went on to receive her Mmaster’s in elementary education from the University of Louisville. In addition to her degrees, she has certifications in environmental education and interpretation. Her full name is Virginia Talbott Delaney, and she is named after her grandfather, who owned the famous Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky!

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  JoCari Beattie—Community Outreach Specialist

JoCari attended Florida A&M University on a track scholarship, receiving a degree in interdisciplinary studies, with an emphasis in Quantitative Analysis and received a minor in psychology. His job primarily involves around building community relationships to help support Louisville ECHO. JoCari is certified in every recreational activity offered at the forest, and is trained to work with SummerWorks. When not working at the forest, JoCari enjoys playing (and winning) basketball and is also an inventor. When asked why he loves JMF, he stated that JMF’s commitment to fighting Louisville’s inequitable access to nature was inspiring.

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 Autumn Costelle— Recreation Coordinator

Autumn received dual degrees in Environmental Science and Animal Studies. She is also a certified interpretive guide.Besides coordinating all the outdoor recreation and environmental education programs for the forest, she enjoys hiking, yoga, and traveling with her family. Sometimes when she is’s on hikes, she sings Disney songs to entertain herself. So, if you hear a Disney princess out in the forest, it’s probably Autumn!. When asked why she loves JMF, she stated that she’s passionate about JMF’s mission of getting kids access to nature.

Americorps Members

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 Chasidy Holleman—Environmental Education Leadership Corps Member

Chasidy joined our forest after getting her bachelor’s in environmental science from the American Public University. As an EEL Corps member, she designs and facilitates a variety of education programs and works closely with Louisville ECHO. She also possesses certifications in CPR/First Aid, Project Wet, Project Wild, and Project Learning Tree. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading and gardening, A fun fact about Chasidy is she has a love for turtles, and she loves JMF for its abundance of awesome wildlife.

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 Andrew Weitlauf—EELCorps Member

Andrew joined the forest in October following his employment at Barren Lake. Andrew is currently serving as an environmental education service member, helping plan education programs at the forest. When he’s not working, he enjoys reading and playing video games. A fun fact he wishes to share is that when he was in 8th grade, his mom was his science teacher.

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 Annette Dangerfield—AmeriCcorps VISTA

Annette hails from Greensburg, Kentucky, but completed her undergraduate degree in sustainable community development at Berea College, in Berea, Kentucky. She went on to receive her masters in Galway, Ireland, in Environment, Society, and Development.She supports the capacity building efforts of Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors, which aims to increase children’s access to nature. A fun fact about Annette is that she recently shaved off all of her hair, just for fun!,and Wwhen asked why she loves the Forest, she stated that it reminded her of the Appalachian Foothills of Berea, and made her feel at home.

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 Gabbie Collins—AmeriCorps VISTA

Gabbie claims Elizabethtown, Kentucky, as her hometown, but always states that she has lived all over the United States. She came to the forest upon completing her bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Kentucky. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Gabbie coordinates the events and trainings of the volunteers at the forest. When not at the forest, Gabbie enjoys going to concerts and reading. A fun fact about her is that she’s fractured her jaw 3 times. When asked why she loves the forest, she stated that the forest is the hidden gem of the Louisville Metro, offering real hiking trails and what she calls “small mountains”. The views keep her coming back, and JMF’s mission to create equitable access to greenspace in Louisville keeps her motivated.

Maintenance Staff

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 Jimmy Carpenter—Maintenance Supervisor

Jim heads up our Maintenance Division, and handles the oversight of JMF’s facilities. He holds certifications in Supervisor Enhancement, Performance Reviews, Ethical Conduct, Coaching Essentials, and Terrorism Response. When he’s not making sure the forest stays safe and functional, Jim likes to build and fix up computers.

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 Derrick Underwood—Park Worker

Derrick is a vital part of our maintenance staff, and hails from Louisville’s own Shawnee High School. He attended Kentucky State University before coming to our forest. When he’s not keeping our facilities clean, safe, and functional, he enjoys playing football and,playing chess and baking cakes!

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 Kelsey Hayes—Park Worker

Kelsey attended Indiana University Southeast where she received a Bachelor’s in Geo-science and a minor in History before she started working at the forest. In addition to her degrees, she holds certifications in medium equipment operation and herbicide application. When she’s not doing repairs and maintaining our parks, she enjoys crafts, reading, drawing, and camping! A fun fact about her is that she recently got married, and when asked why she loves JMF she stated that she loves being out in nature and preserving our remaining green spaces.

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 Gene Underwood—Park Worker

Gene has been with our Parks department for quite some time, coming here after working for the (Fairdale?) fire department for (x number) of years. When he’s not helping supervise maintenance of the park, he enjoys home remodeling and fishing. A fun fact about Gene is that he collects knives, and when asked why he loves the forest, he stated he liked the forest because he loved his job.

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 Kris Davenport—Park Worker

Another vital member of our parks staff is Kris Davenport, who also conducts maintenance on our Parks facilities. When he’s not working at the forest, Kris enjoys building and modifying firearms. A fun fact about Kris is that he has 6 kids! When asked why he loves the forest, he stated that he loves nature, and the job allows him to be in an environment he loves.

Welcome Center Staff

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 Darik Ricketts—Guest Services Supervisor

A previous Americorps Direct Service Member and JMF Seasonal, Darik’s addition to the JMF full time staff was a long time coming. Prior to working at the forest, Darik received a degree in environmental studies from Bellarmine University. As supervisor, he oversees the volunteer program and marketing of natural areas, manages the Welcome Center, organizes forest events and rentals, and oversees the cleanliness and accessibility of our park locations. When not at the forest, he enjoys backpacking and hiking. When asked why he loves JMF he stated that it’s the best place near Louisville to explore the wilderness and conduct outdoor recreation.

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 Andrea Clark—Event/Visitor Specialist

Andrea hails from our very own Louisville, Kentucky, and attended the University of Louisville. As part of our Welcome Center Staff, she is responsible for corresponding with schools/teachers, scheduling private educational and recreational programs to support program staff. She also exclusively handles booking/coordination of all weddings, corporate events, trail races and special events. She ensures appropriate permits/agreements are obtained and clients’ needs are met. When not working at the forest, Andrea enjoys hiking, biking, and spending time with her friends and family. A fun fact she’d like to share is that she flew the cockpit of a 767 from Louisville to California. When asked why she loves JMF, she said she appreciated JMF’s vision of increasing equitable access to nature.

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 Chrystel Anderson—Welcome Center Staff

Chrystel hails from the great city from Louisville, graduating from Pleasure Ridge Park High School. She works in the Welcome Center as the forest’s customer service representative and reservation clerk. When she’s not providing excellent service to our customers, Chrystel enjoys reading. When asked why she loves JMF, she stated that the forest is “beautiful and tranquil,”, making it a great place to work.

Land Management

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 Bryan Lewis—Land Management Supervisor

Bryan attended the University of Louisville, where he received a Bachelor’s in zoology, and a Mmaster’s in ecology. In addition to his degrees, he is a certified trail master and pesticide applicator, and holds a certification for ArcGIS. When he’s not keeping Louisville’s parks beautiful and fighting off pesky invasive plant species, he enjoys crafting and gardening. When asked for a fun fact about himself, he told us that it took him 12 years to finish college., which is as much time as it takes all of us to finish regular schooling[DAM1] . When asked why he loves JMF, Bryan stated that the forest is just all around “great”—great staff, great hiking, and great programs.

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 John Studer—Park Supervisor

John joined the forest after graduating from the University of Missouri. He works in our land management department, conserving protecting the forest against invasive species and erosion. When not working, John enjoys hiking, golfing, and traveling, and is also an experienced sailor. When asked why he loves JMF, John stated that his appreciation stemmed from the forest’s size and accessibility to the population.

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 Kenneth Rhodes—Horticultural Worker

Ken is the second newest member of the Forest Family, joining us after a graduation from Western Kentucky University. As a horticultural worker, Ken is integral in maintaining the walking trails and scenery in the park, as well as protecting the forest against invasive species and erosion. When not at work, Ken plays and coaches sports, hikes and camps, and plays the saxophone. When asked why he loves JMF, he stated that both the forest and the staff were awesome. 

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 Allison Nofziger—Horticultural Worker

Allison received her bachelor’s degree from Trine University in Indiana. She is our newest staff member at the forest, working with our Land Management Staff to remove invasive species and keep our forest beautiful! In addition, she is certified in wilderness first aid. When she’s not working at the forest, she enjoys hiking, reading, and travelling (she’s visited Germany, Italy, and Mexico). When asked why she loves JMF, she said she appreciated the forest’s dedication to the conservation of natural resources.


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