By Jacob Osborne EBS Editorial Assistant
BIG SKY – The future of Big Sky recreation is changing hands from one Bobcat to another.
After serving as the executive director of the Big Sky Community Corp. for nearly four years, Jessie Wiese is stepping down this month. Taking her place will be Oregon native and fellow Montana State University alumna Ciara Wolfe.
BSCC is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with both public and private entities to build and maintain recreational resources for the enjoyment of Big Sky residents and visitors.
Among other projects during her tenure, Wiese oversaw the completion of the 45-acre Big Sky Community Park, a recreation complex equipped with a skatepark, climbing boulders, tennis and basketball courts, multi-use fields and two baseball diamonds.
“She’s very motivated,” said BSCC Board Chairman Herb Davis of the outgoing executive director, “and she is very passionate about trails, recreational opportunities, and the community.”
Davis credited Wiese with developing the key relationship with Bozeman’s Simkins family – which owns nearly 600 acres of land in Big Sky, including the Town Center tract – that allowed for the acquisition of 8 miles of trail easements in June 2013, an agreement that cleared the way for BSCC’s current Community Center Trails project and the completion of the Hummocks and Uplands trails in August 2014.
Davis also praised Wiese for increasing BSCC’s donor base, ramping up the organization’s annual summer gala, and improving ties with the Big Sky Resort Tax Board.
Incoming Executive Director Ciara Wolfe is well aware of the strides Wiese has made.
“[BSCC] has a great reputation, so there’s a lot that should be preserved and sustained,” Wolfe said. “I don’t have plans for changes … I have plans of really listening and learning, and getting a good feel for what the needs [of the community] are.”
After growing up in Medford, Ore., Wolfe moved to Bozeman and received a bachelor’s in Earth Sciences from MSU. She lived in Bellingham, Wash., for five years after college, where she began her work with the YMCA.
Wolfe now also holds a master’s in nonprofit management from Regis University, as well as an Organizational Leadership Certificate and a Fundraising Executive Certification.
After Wolfe and her husband Mike had their first child, they once again set their sights on Montana. Eight years ago, they returned to their old college town of Bozeman to raise their family, and Wolfe began working as the program director at the Montana Outdoor Science School.
Following that, she accepted an executive director position with the Park County branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters before landing again with the YMCA, this time as the associate executive director in the Gallatin Valley office.
Wolfe spent the last four years in this capacity before learning of the BSCC opening. For Wolfe and her family, it seemed like a rare opportunity.
“We really wanted to live in a tight-knit community, know everyone, and have that access [to the outdoors],” Wolfe said. “Then this job came up and it was literally the perfect alignment … what a wonderful opportunity to take the skills I have and the experiences I’ve had, and then bring them up into Big Sky … during such a pivotal time of growth.”
Wolfe’s considerable professional experience was an important selling point for Davis and the BSCC board when they hired her. “She brings a lot of energy and a lot of real understanding of what it’s like to be at the helm of a nonprofit,” Davis said. “She really is the ideal fit for us.”
Once they move to Big Sky permanently in early August, the Wolfes and their two young children will become the newest users of BSCC’s varied resources: “We’re big skiers, big mountain bikers, and we’re on the river all the time,” Wolfe said.
“I think BSCC is a critical component of that,” she added, “making sure that recreation is accessible to everyone … to get all ages, all abilities, all demographics outside and enjoying why we’re all visiting or living [here].”
Wolfe begins working full time for BSCC on July 23, and will be in attendance at the Parks and Trails Gala on Aug. 15.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Parks and Trails Gala was on Aug. 8. The gala is actually on Aug. 15.