Mason Osgood

Mason Osgood was recently named the new executive director Sheep Mountain Alliance, after two years as the organization’s community outreach coordinator. (Courtesy photo)

Mason Osgood has always strived to do what’s right for the local environment and wildlife. Hired in 2019 as Sheep Mountain Alliance’s first Americorps VISTA intern, he served as the nonprofit’s community outreach coordinator for the past two years in engaging people through various programs. Osgood said he’s excited to continue that work in his new role, as he was recently named the organization’s next executive director, replacing Lexi Tuddenham, who held the position for six years and brought Osgood on board initially.

“Mason brings a fantastic amount of energy, competency and an on-the-ground understanding of complex environmental issues in the West. He has very strong policy analysis skills, is incredibly personable and committed to public service,” Tuddenham said. “ … From my first conversation with him I was struck by his openness and his ability to talk to anyone, regardless of their background. Initially he spent a lot of time meeting people and building relationships in various local communities. This has served him well as people have come to know, trust and work alongside him. During the pandemic, he signed on for a second VISTA year, and we are so lucky that he did.”

Osgood grew up in Reno, Nevada, before attending Trinity College and earning his bachelor’s in public policy. After graduating, he became a policy intern with the American Alpine Club, where he started his career in environmental advocacy. He was also an AmeriCorps service member in Crestone at a small rural charter school before joining Sheep Mountain Alliance. Osgood explained his two years working with Tuddenham allowed him to settle into the area and learn what issues and opportunities exist, while having the support of someone who shared a similar vision.

“I was extremely fortunate to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA under Lexi. She provided me with an immense amount of support and encouragement to make community connections, find my voice and gain an intimate knowledge of our region's environmental history,” he said. “Lexi taught me the intricacies of environmental policy, from wilderness legislation to mining regulations. Her knowledge and impact on Sheep Mountain Alliance will remain for many generations. While much of our work is behind a desk, I think Lexi and I both enjoyed seeing our work in action out on our wonderful public lands.”

Tuddenham returned the sentiment and thanked all the people she worked with and alongside during her time with the organization.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to serve as Sheep Mountain Alliance's executive director for the last six or so years. I came in at a time of transition, and it was a great honor to be able to move the organization forward and rebuild it into a relevant, resilient steward of the landscapes and communities it supports,” she said. “It has been a tremendous learning experience, and I owe so much to our members and advocates, who care deeply for the wild places in their backyard.”

That backyard includes the wild and wonderful lands of the Valley Floor, which has been an outdoor office for Osgood as he’s worked on Sheep Mountain Alliance’s ongoing elk monitoring program. He’s excited about the initiative and wants to welcome more citizen scientists into his office in making the outdoors more accessible and inclusive to those who want to enjoy it.

“I'll be focusing on strengthening our Valley Floor Elk Monitoring Project to allow for more citizen science opportunities, doubling down on our Latinx Outdoor Engagement Program to provide for more inclusionary and bilingual recreational opportunities, and ensuring our wildlife and forests are treated with dignity through increased management protections,” he said of his current goals.

Becoming part of the community and learning how passionate residents are about environmental issues continues to inspire Osgood’s work.

“The opportunity to be executive director of Sheep Mountain Alliance allows me to further my passion for environmental advocacy and create deeper community connections in this region. Professionally, I've been focused on environmental policy and advocacy ever since graduating college; this next step feels like a culmination of my past experience. Personally, I've grown a deep admiration for the greater Telluride community, as well as the San Juan mountains, and am looking forward to giving back through my work at Sheep Mountain Alliance,” he said. “I'm really looking forward to exploring how Sheep Mountain Alliance can continue work in the burgeoning field of environmental justice. Intersectional environmentalism requires a nuanced approach in today's world of advocacy. While the organization’s roots remain in environmentalism, our future endeavors must include support for those communities disproportionately affected by climate change, and we must strive to foster inclusion in our recreational community. Telluride has a wonderful history of environmentalism, perhaps culminating with the Valley Floor acquisition. If I can embody that spirit while taking an intersectional approach, I think Sheep Mountain Alliance is headed in a positive direction.”

Osgood is also Ophir’s current town clerk, a One to One mentor, San Miguel Resource Center victim advocate and director of the recently created Hanging Flume 50K trail running race.

To learn more about Sheep Mountain Alliance, visit sheepmountainalliance.org.