Gina Collignon

Latin America Instructor

B.A. Biology, Reed College, Portland, OR.
M.Sc. Agronomy and Environment and Resources.

Gina is a native of San Francisco, CA. As much as in love with the forest as with the city, she headed to college in the Pacific Northwest to study biology. Once there she immersed herself within all things tree-related, becoming especially interested in disturbance ecology and plant-human interaction. She spent the summer before senior year working on a research project in Puerto Rico investigating the effects of land use history on fern distribution and spent the summer after senior year backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas, studying the effects of pack stock on alpine meadows. She enjoyed the life of the scientific nerd.

After college Gina worked as a teacher/naturalist an outdoor education camp in Northern California, where she introduced urban students to ecology, redwood trees, and dirt. She worked there for a year and a half, eventually co-leading the high school volunteer program. Next, Gina moved to Montana where she worked as a crew leader with the Montana Conservation Corps. There, she led a crew of four adults into the wilds of Montana, learned to backpack with a chainsaw, and saw her first moose. One snowy day while sitting in a wall tent in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a friend handed Gina a big envelope. It was her Peace Corps site placement information. She read it and looked up wide-eyed. “Bolivia!” Gina lived in Bolivia for over a year and a half as a Natural Resource Conservation Volunteer. When Peace Corps Bolivia was evacuated, she decided to continue for another year in Ecuador.

Gina is interested in trees, ecology, anthropology, land use management, food production, and many other things. Her experiences in South America working with farmers led her to pursue a Masters of Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This experience in academia expanded her worldview on the nature of farming, brought more depth to her understanding of the diversity within her own country, and also reemphasized her belief in the need for experiential education.

Gina has worked three Andes and Amazon semesters and one Bolivia custom course.