Lissa and Justin Howe, Ranch Managers
Lissa and Justin Howe have managed the A Bar A since 2008, when they took the reins from Justin’s parents, Bob and Margie. They met while working together as A Bar A wranglers in the late 90s. Both Justin and Lissa feel very grateful to be part of the A Bar A community and have deep connections to the ranch and its guest and staff families. The landscape of the A Bar A is home for them, and they feel fortunate to be able to serve as its stewards.
Lissa grew up in Durango, Colorado and went to Colorado College for a degree in Biology. Justin grew up in small towns in Colorado and Wyoming (including Encampment) and graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Anthropology. They both attended graduate school at the University of Wyoming, earning degrees in Geography/Ecology (Lissa) and Business Administration (Justin), and then worked together for a non-profit called Project WET (Water Education for Teachers). At Project WET, they worked with a diverse group of educators and water resource managers to develop hands-on K-12 curriculum.
They live in Durango when they aren’t at the ranch, and have two daughters, Christine and Kenna. The whole family loves reading, travel, and outdoor activities like horseback riding, hiking, camping, river-rafting, and skiing. There is always a lot of music being played or sung in the Howe household!
Clarkie Duke, Reservations Director
Clarkie grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In 2012, she graduated from Sweet Briar College with a major in business and a minor in psychology. Clarkie’s first summer at the A Bar A was in 2012 as part of the waitstaff team, and she worked as a children’s counselor in 2013. After two summers at the A Bar A, Clarkie worked in corporate sponsorship for the Denver Zoo. She returned to the ranch in 2015 and is now the Reservations Director.
Clarkie has always had a passion for enjoying the outdoors, especially on horseback. Clarkie spends the winter months in Denver, Colorado with her husband Benjy Duke, whom she met at the A Bar A in 2012, and their dog Chester. Some of her favorite hobbies are horseback riding, hiking, and skiing.
Benjy Duke, Expeditions Director
Benjy’s first summer with A Bar A was 2007 as the gardener, and he worked multiple summers as a ranch fly-fishing guide, later becoming the head fly-fishing guide in 2010. Benjy graduated from Washington College with a BA in Humanities (concentration in Environmental Science and Chesapeake Bay Regional Studies). He gained further experience in fisheries while working for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Jackson, Wyoming. Benjy’s interests in conservation and wildlife have supported multiple research projects and conservation partnerships on the ranches. Benjy has been Expeditions Director since the program began in 2012 and now co-directs the program with Burk Knowlton.
Benjy grew up in Elizabeth, Colorado on his family’s ranch where his passion for the outdoors, wildlife, conservation, and teaching others about their landscapes shaped his career. Benjy loves fly-fishing, skiing, hunting, and guiding, but most of all, working with other people on collaborative teams. Benjy met his wife, Clarkie, at A Bar A in 2012 and they both live in Denver, Colorado during the winter months.
Burk Knowlton, Expeditions Director
Burk grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in Public Health. He headed west just after graduation to work his first summer at A Bar A as a hazer. After a brief stint in Jackson Hole, Burk returned to A Bar A as an Expeditions Guide. He is now a Co-Director of the Expeditions program with Benjy Duke. Burk enjoys facilitating wildlife conservation projects on the ranches and is a wilderness first responder.
All his life, most of Burk’s free time has been spent recreating in the outdoors. He is a passionate outdoorsman who loves hunting, fishing, backpacking, and conservation. He especially enjoys connecting others to the rich landscapes and wildlife surrounding A Bar A, Big Creek, and State Line Ranches. A man of many hobbies, his most recent interest is conveying his passion for the outdoors and wildlife through photography. Burk lives in Denver, Colorado during the winter months with his wife, Rettie, and their adventure buddy, Cache, a black lab.
Rettie Knowlton, Staffing and Networks Coordinator
Rettie’s A Bar A career began in 2010 when she worked for the summer as the gardener. She followed that summer with multiple years as a fly-fishing guide. Rettie graduated from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland with a BA in Anthropology and a concentration in Chesapeake Bay Regional Studies. Prior to returning to A Bar A in her current role as Staffing and Networks Coordinator, Rettie worked for Colorado’s El Pomar Foundation in a 2-year Fellowship role that focused on leadership and non-profit business management.
Growing up in rural Elizabeth, Colorado on her family’s ranch, Rettie has always appreciated the West, conservation, and the outdoors. Rettie enjoys hiking, painting, baking, and fly-fishing around the ranches and loves to fish the small streams with her 3wt fly rod. Rettie met her husband, Burk Knowlton at A Bar A in 2013.
Katherine Boucher, Head Wrangler
Katherine has worked at the A Bar A since the summer of 2015 when she was hired as a youth wrangler. Katherine graduated from the University of Vermont with a BS in Animal Science concentrating on pre-veterinary medicine, and a minor in music. Katherine has experience working at multiple veterinary clinics, from small animal to equine hospitals.
Katherine grew up in Shelburne, Vermont and had not traveled out West before her first summer at A Bar A. Her interest in working on a ranch was first sparked by a fellow classmate and, following this initial interest, A Bar A was recommended by a college professor who had worked as a wrangler here. Katherine has been riding for almost 20 years with a background in eventing (English riding). She enjoys trail rides around the ranches and especially loves getting off trail and exploring new terrain. Some of her hobbies include playing guitar, singing, cooking, and baking.
Debbie Salisbury, Head Housekeeper/ Head Cabin Host
Debbie has been a part of the A Bar A team since 2002. Prior to working at A Bar A, Debbie worked in the cook house at Big Creek Ranch, the cattle operation headquarters of the ranches. Growing up in Nevada and Utah, she moved to Encampment, Wyoming after college and has called it home ever since. Debbie commutes to the ranch every day and enjoys every mile of her drive—there is always something new to see on the 8-mile driveway to the A Bar A!
Debbie is married and has two grown children, both of whom have worked summers at the ranch. Debbie enjoys working with and building relationships with both guests and staff. Some of her many hobbies include cooking, traveling, reading, and learning new things every day.
Andrew Koehn, Maintenance Director
Leah Koehn, Youth Programs Director
Leah and Andrew Koehn joined the A Bar A team in 2012 and live on the ranch year-round with their two sons. Leah and Andrew first met when they were in school at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, where Andrew got his degree in Animal Science, and Leah in Psychology.
Prior to A Bar A, the Koehn family lived at Big Creek Ranch, which is the cattle operation headquarters of the ranches. Andrew worked for Big Creek for 8 years as a cowboy. Andrew is now the Maintenance Director at A Bar A and enjoys working with the draft horse team and restoring antique machinery.
Leah is the Youth Programs Director and keeps herself busy during the summer managing the Children’s Program, known as the Gopher Hole! Leah enjoys doing crafts and recently started the beekeeping program at A Bar A. Leah incorporates many of these fun and educational activities in the Gopher Hole curriculum during the summer.
Justin Stone, Food & Beverage Manager
Justin’s first summer with A Bar A was in 2011 as wine steward. After a handful of years working in Virginia, he returned to the Ranch in 2016 to oversee the food and beverage program. Justin graduated in 2009 from the University of Virginia with BAs in History and Politics. Initially destined for the Foreign Service after college, Justin’s course veered sharply into the wine and food industry where he’s remained because of the experiential, educational, and communal moments that happen around a table.
Growing up in Fredericksburg, Virginia surrounded by an adventurous family of firefighters and teachers, Justin developed a great appreciation for service, education, and the outdoors. After exploring the mountains, waterways, and paths of the East Coast, Justin headed West for more adventure and a new home. He now lives in Tetonia, Idaho with his wife Tracy and dog Hattie where they all enjoy hiking, biking, XC skiing/snowshoeing, cooking, and exploring new wines.
David Watter, Executive Chef
David’s first summer with A Bar A was in 2018 as Sous Chef. David has been in the kitchen ever since, becoming Executive Chef in 2020. David attended Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin and studied Outdoor Education. Prior to A Bar A, David gained experience in fine dining at Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee and was a brewer and cellar master at Like Minds Brewing.
David grew up in Milwaukee and hadn’t traveled in the West prior to his first summer at A Bar A. He applied for a job at the ranch on a whim during a Colorado vacation he didn’t want to leave and has found that he loves the big open sky and clean air of Wyoming. When he isn’t cooking, David enjoys playing guitar and rooting for Wisconsin sports from his winter home in Milwaukee.