The Color Country Natural Resource Camp is staffed by

experts in various Natural Resource fields

Sandy Ferrell – Camp Director

The camp has been held at Fish Lake, Kolob Mountain, Browse, Cedar Mountain, East of Zion National Park, up Parowan Canyon, Panguitch Lake, and now on Cedar Mountain.

Sandy has been a biology and environmental science teacher at Dixie High School and Pine View High School. She is currently the Principal at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School. She loves the outdoors, hiking, biking, kayaking, and backpacking (she has been to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon 28 times, mostly with high school students). She is the mother of two children and nine grandchildren, who have already been kayaking, hiking, and camping with Grandma.

Dustin Dayley – Assistant Camp Director

DustinDustin Dayley has been involved in education since 2001, where he started teaching at HHS as the Agriculture/Natural Resource teacher.  He is now the assistant principal at HMS. He has been involved in the outdoors since he was a kid and has loved being outside and the solitude that it has to offer.  Some of his favorite activities are dirt biking, camping, fishing, swimming, and kayaking.  His latest bucket list item was hiking the Grand Canyon from N. Rim to S. Rim to N. Rim in two days, a bit daunting but a cool outdoor experience. When asked why he is involved in CCNR Camp he said “Being able to have students remember this as one of their favorite experiences from high school is what keeps me involved.”

Nicki Frey – Instructor

Nicki Frey received her undergraduate degree in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University in 1996. After working in this profession for a couple of years she moved to Logan Utah to work on her graduate degree at Utah State University. She accomplished both her Master’s degree and PhD in Wildlife Biology, working with the Jack H. Berryman Institute. Dr. Frey began working for Utah State University and the Jack H. Berryman Institute as an Assistant Extension Wildlife Specialist in October 2004, in Cedar City, Utah. Briefly, her responsibilities include helping private and public landowners solve wildlife management conflicts, conducting research on wildlife management and predator-prey interactions to assist with problem resolution, teaching at Southern Utah University, and providing youth and adult public outreach education opportunities.

Nicki’s recreational activities include most outdoor sports such as hiking, camping, snowshoeing, climbing, snowboarding, rafting, etc. just as long as it isn’t seriously life threatening. She also loves martial arts and action movies.

Melinda Bennion – Instructor

Melinda Bennion

Melinda has worked in Southern Utah as a Native Aquatics Biologist with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) since 2003. She enjoys working outside doing native fish population monitoring and desert tortoise monitoring projects. Melinda received a Bachelor of Science from Weber State University. She majored in Zoology with an emphasis in conservation biology/ecology. During college she spent her summers doing stream surveys in the Great Salt Lake as well as volunteering at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. Since college she has worked as a fishery technician for National Marine Fisheries Service in Hawaii, a veterinary technician, and an ice-skating instructor. Once Melinda decided on a biologist career path, she went back to school to get her Master’s. She graduated from Utah State University with a Master’s of Natural Resources in 2010.

Melinda’s has been part of CCNRC since 2007. She is passionate about working with “non-huggable” species and loves to share her interest with students by teaching the aquatic investigation at the camp. In her spare time she loves to dance, rock climb, yoga, rollerblade, ice skate, and mountain bike. She also enjoys hanging out with her husband, son, and dog.

Vernon Parent – Instructor

Vernon has worked for Utah State University as a faculty member teaching agriculture, natural resources, and youth programs since 2000. With a Bachelors in Range Science (grass and shrub lands) and a Masters in Natural Resource Management, Vernon has spent time working on his family ranch, as a Back Country Ranger in Yellowstone National Park, and as a Range Con for the National Forest Service.

Currently Vernon spends most of his time working for USU, developing life skills in youth and expanding their love for science, technology and a love and respect for the outdoors. Vernon’s interests include camping, hiking, rock climbing, shooting and playing sports with his 5 kids and wife Lisa. He loves working with his hands and finding common sense answers to problems.

Frannie Pena – Instructor

Frannie Peña is the Agriculture Teacher/FFA Advisor at Pine View High School, she has been involved with the camp since 2013. She has helped with many different investigations and recreation activities at the camp, she will be teaching the soil investigation this year.

She has loved camping and being in the outdoors ever since she was little kid. Some of her favorite activities are camping, hiking, four-wheeling, reading, and working with animals. Her favorite part of CCNR camp is being able to interact with students outside of the traditional classroom and explore different areas of Natural Resources.

Lael Christensen – Instructor


Lael has been involved in the Color Country Natural Resource Camp ever since the first year when he was a student. He has grown up loving the outdoors and is very knowledgeable in most aspects especially outdoor survival. He worked at Red Cliff Ascent youth program for two years learning many of his outdoor survival skills.

Lael and Jaime Christensen have been married for 16 years and have four children: River, Kai, Paisley, and Archer. They live in Santa Clara and own their own plumbing business. They both love the outdoors and traveling. They traveled around the world for 18 months just after they got married, backpacking and camping along the whole time.

Jamie Christensen – Camp Administrator/Facilitator

JaimeJaime has been involved with the camp for the past 14 years helping with the office information. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a Bachelors of Biology and even though she is busy with four children, she loves the outdoors and helping with the camp.

Jaime and Lael’s children are often seen around the camp, covered in dirt but never complaining (unlike the high school students). River will likely have his own staff entry on this website next year. This family can probably out-camp anyone you know.