Rugged Research is a fun and exciting nature based education group founded by Rocky Mountain Park Rangers and led by certified educators.

  • Our goal is to instill Kentucky students of all ages with a sense of place and wonder within their local ecosystems.
  • We believe that cultivating a love and respect for nature at a young age will transfer into a desire to care for our planet as an adult.
  •  We believe that purposeful exploration is fundamental to a child’s development and growth.

Rugged Research offers summer camps, after school programming, and homeschool programming for children from Pre-K to Middle School. We can provide a fun and challenging addition to remote learning or learning pods, helping students experience the wonders of nature. Our programs explore the parks of Lexington, where students are able to experience the excitement of a close-up view of our extraordinary Kentucky wildlife and be introduced to the work of environmental scientists.

Rugged Research programs are led by Rocky Mountain Park Rangers and certified teachers who use innovative experiential learning methods to guide student into a deeper understanding of the connection between humans and the natural world. Kentucky has wondrously diverse ecosystems, which our program uses as a giant, learning laboratory to help students fall in love with nature and learn about the impact of their actions on the environment.  Our program extends this learning and helps students  make connections to larger global environmental issues. Rugged Research helps students develop a more mindful awareness of their everyday encounters with the natural world and fosters resilience and confidence while  decreasing anxiety and stress in their own lives.

Cassidy Cornett: Kentucky Branch Director, Instructor

Cassidy Cornett is Rugged Research Kentucky branch Director and Head Instructor. She is also a Conservation Educator for a wildlife center in Kentucky. Cassidy has a Masters degree in Teaching Secondary Biology and an Environmental Education Endorsement. She studied abroad in Hawaii and Costa Rica learning more about education and diverse ecosystems. Cassidy helped lead the first ever Appalachian Mountain Ecology Camp in Eastern Kentucky where students sampled water quality and learned about the lifecycle of salamanders. As a former high school biology teacher, zoo educator, and camp counselor, Cassidy is passionate about educating others about the environment and nature!

Bri Wold: Founder, Education Director, Instructor

Bri Wold is a Park Ranger in the Rocky Mountains and the founder and co-director of  Rugged Research. Her experience includes working in highly diverse areas of the world, including rainforests, deserts, oceans and is now a Park Ranger in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  Bri has led educational expeditions for students to Hawaii, Belize, Costa Rica and many other extraordinary sites. In addition, Bri has a Masters in Education and was previously a high school science teacher in Colorado where she had substantial involvement in curriculum development and outdoor education.  

Bri’s passion lies in sharing the wonders of the natural world with the next generation and she couldn’t be more excited about starting Rugged Research!

Jesse Weiland: Founder, Director, Instructor

Jesse Weiland is the founder and Co-Director of Rugged Research. He is a former Park Ranger who has worked with the National Park Service and local Colorado parks as well. Before becoming a Park Ranger, Jesse was a Biological Science Technician for Rocky Mountain National Park, a tour guide in the Mediterranean, an outdoor educator in Hawaii and high school science teacher. Jesse has a Masters in Environmental Science and his past research has ranged from studying chimpanzees in Africa to bumble bees in New Jersey and now he can’t wait to show kids the amazing natural wonders that nature has to offer!

Tristan: Instructor Intern

Tristan is a student at Eastern Kentucky University majoring in Biology, concentrating on biodiversity and conservation. She also has a minor in Appalachian studies. Tristan wants to help protect and preserve the Earth. She believes that educating children on the importance of preservation of natural areas will help everyone in the future.

Rugged Research is always looking for passionate people to join the team! Please send your resume and cover letter to Cassidyruggedresearch@gmail.com and make the subject line “Employment Application”. Due to the high number of applicants, we cannot reply to every application but will add your resume to our files for future opportunities. 

– Passionate about the environment, early childhood education, and working with children outdoors
– Experience in nature play-based emergent and/or inquiry-based education for young children
– Early education and/or science career path preferred
– Are at least 18 years of age
– Have transportation to travel to multiple parks throughout Fayette County KY