Elena Evans

Executive Director

Elena’s experience working with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, as an outreach consultant, and environmental consultant provide a varied and strong basis for her current work as Executive Director for the Montana Association of Conservation Districts and Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana. When not working, Elena gets outside as often as possible hiking, camping, and trying to keep track of her dog.

Ann McCauley

Associate Director

Ann is a Montana native and received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Montana State University-Bozeman’s College of Agriculture with an emphasis in soil science, sustainable cropping systems, and environmental biology. Ann has previous experience working for the Forest Service, writing extension publications for MSU, and working in water quality programs. Ann lives in Helena with her husband and her two kids, and in her rare spare time, Ann likes to run, ski, and bake.

Jess (2)Jess Makus

Programs Manager

Jessica has a background in biology, and has a lot of experience working with water resources. She began her work in Montana with the Montana Natural Heritage Program, continued with the Department of Environmental Quality, and most recently spent time with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Jessica lives in Helena with her husband Erik, and their daughter Cora. Jessica enjoys the outdoors and spends her free time running, camping, and skiing. She can be reached at

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Samantha Tappenbeck

Area Resource Specialist, Western Montana

Samantha joined us on June 20 as the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana Resource Specialist. She will provide technical and coordination assistance to Conservation Districts and local organizations on water quantity and quality issues in the Clark Fork/Kootenai River Basins. Samantha’s background is in freshwater ecology and aquatic biogeochemistry. She has a Master of Science in Systems Ecology from the University of Montana and has conducted research in southeastern Appalachia, the tallgrass prairie of the Midwest, and the northwestern Rocky Mountains. For the past four years she worked as an analyst in the Freshwater Research Laboratory at Flathead Lake Biological Station in Polson, MT. Samantha grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and has lived in the Flathead Valley since 2010. She and her husband Tyler live in the foothills of the Swan Mountains in Kalispell. When not at work, you can find them camping, floating a river, or hiking with their three dogs. Samantha can be reached at or 406-291-6314.


Kate Arpin

Communication and Outreach

Many of you will recognize Kate from her former position as the administrator and outreach/communications coordinator at the Madison Conservation District. She is also skilled in website design, and built websites for the Madison Conservation District, the Park Conservation District, and the Beaverhead Watershed Committee. Kate is the daughter of a longtime Ruby Valley CD supervisor and a native of Twin Bridges. She currently lives in Troy with her husband Al, who is a teacher and fights fire for the Forest Service in the summer.

Please see individual program pages for Program Staff.