International Dark-Sky Association’s Mission
- Advocate for the protection of the night sky
- Educate the public and policymakers about night sky conservation
- Promote environmentally responsible outdoor lighting
- Empower the public with the tools and resources to help bring back the night
About the IDA Utah Chapter
The Utah Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association works to protect Utah’s heritage of star-filled night skies. The chapter is an all-volunteer, educational group working with businesses, towns, municipalities, groups and individuals to keep our rural night skies dark and full of stars, and to help Utahns tackle light pollution issues in our towns and cities.
The Utah Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association currently has four Standing Committees which are made up of board members and IDA UT members. Committees work within several focus areas to protect Utah’s dark skies. Our current Standing Committees are:
board of directors
The IDA Utah Board of Directors is an all-volunteer group of dedicated night sky defenders.
Aaron Dekeyzer is excited and honored to lead the Board. Since becoming a member of the IDA at the 2018 Annual General Meeting, Aaron has worked diligently toward the formation of the Board, and with local municipalities for appropriate lighting ordinances and overlay zones. Aaron serves as the Chair of the Sandy City Sustainability Focus Group, where he collected resident survey data on streetlights that he presented at the 68th UN Civil Society Conference. He also serves as the Board President of the Utah Society for Environmental Education and teaches ecological principles in elementary schools. Aaron is passionate about dark skies and believes in the IDA mission “to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.” Aaron has a Masters Degree in Transpersonal Ecopsychology and a certificate in Smart City Design and Technology from MIT. He is a Realtor® with Living Wasatch at Equity Real Estate and holds the GREEN Designation from the National Association of Realtors®. He likes to get away from the buzz of the city and spend quality time with his family camping, hiking, exploring, and stargazing. Aaron is an amateur astrophotographer and also enjoys bird watching, playing games like chess and go, and rocking out to concerts in gardens.
Jess Cleeves holds a Master’s of Teaching from Stanford University and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Utah. As a secondary science teacher for over a decade, Jess earned National Board Certification to support her students in Title 1, Title 3, and Title 6 classrooms in California, Colorado, and Utah. While Jess is proud of the number of protected dark-sky places in Utah, her focus is towards replicable, urban-centric natural night campaigns rooted in ecological equity and broad social inclusion. Currently the Associate Director for Equitable Instruction and Clinical Support at the University of Utah’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education, Jess brings her longstanding commitment to connecting underserved communities to the natural world to her work on the IDA Board of Directors. Jess’ skills in grant and project management, curriculum and instructional design, and community organizing have supported her leadership in the Utah IDA chapter as well as on the IDA Board of Directors.
Secretary & Membership Coordinator
Meg Osswald is a native Utahn passionate about preserving Utah’s unique natural wonders to ensure their existence for current and future generations. She graduated from S.J. Quinney College of Law with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Westminster College. In her day job as Assistant Attorney General, Meg practices environmental law relating to environmental regulatory compliance and environmental enforcement on behalf of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Meg is enthusiastic about applying her skills to the unrelated yet also very important task of furthering the Utah IDA Chapter’s mission to protect Utah’s dark skies.
Treasurer & Outreach Coordinator
Cooper Farr is the Director of Conservation at Tracy Aviary, where she coordinates Tracy Aviary’s many avian conservation initiatives, allocates grants through Tracy Aviary’s Conservation Fund program, and implements a number of community science projects throughout Salt Lake County. Cooper has been dedicated to protecting the night sky throughout her time at the Aviary, and is especially passionate about engaging the community in research and local actions. She currently runs a community science research program studying the impact of light pollution on migratory birds in Salt Lake City, UT, and leads Lights Out Salt Lake: a strategic campaign to keep the city’s skies darker during spring and fall to help protect migratory birds.
National Parks Conservation Association
Cassidy Jones is a national park advocate, former park ranger and dark skies enthusiast born and raised in Wasatch County. She first got involved with dark skies as a park ranger at Timpanogos Cave National Monument where she learned the value of the dark both inside the cave and out and about in the night. She now works in the nonprofit sector for the National Parks Conservation Association where she connects people to the civic process of keeping parks–and the skies above them–protected. When she’s not working and playing in parks and public lands, you can find Cassidy at home in Salt Lake City obsessing over her small garden or nerding out with her environmental literature book club.
Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Park
Crystal White, Associate Director of Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks (FOACP), is a naturalist of 17 years and an amateur astronomer of 14 years. She was recently selected as a NASA Solar System Ambassador volunteering with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and receives intense training from the scientists and engineers throughout NASA’s network of centers. Her true passion in life lies in conserving our view of the universe and keeping the night sky clear for everyone to draw inspiration and enjoyment. She has accomplished this goal through her works with the International Dark Sky Association, the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative (FOACP), and Moab Dark Skies.
Dark Skies Field Team
Alan is a retired research chemist with wide interests in science, nature, and the fine arts. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Utah and 39 US patents in fields ranging from oil refining to analytical instruments to growing algae for biofuel to methods of electricity production using geothermal energy. He teaches classes in several areas of science (and music theory) at the Osher Institute of the University of Utah. In the realm of dark skies, Alan and wife Vickie are the heart of the Dark Skies Field Team, a small group of friends that has been involved in aiding the applications of at least eight different national parks and monuments as Dark Sky Places. In token of their efforts, Alan and Vickie were jointly awarded the Dark Sky Defenders recognition at the 2019 IDA National Meeting.
Dark Sky Layton
Being woken up by a newly placed streetlight outside my bedroom window, I surprisingly became aware to the subtle light dome being placed over my head. It had been a long time since I had looked up and gazed at the stars. I had forgotten to stop life for a second and look up. I then realized; I was losing the ability to share with my children the Milky Way from our backyard as my Father did while I was a child. This led me to discover my local Dark Sky Park and the work being done by many groups including the Utah State Parks and the International Dark Sky Association. I attended a night sky photography workshop at Antelope Island State Park and was immediately blown away at the images that I was able to capture with my camera. Three years later, you will find me passionately advocating protection of the night sky through my astro-photography and teaching others to “Touch” the sky on their own. Once you touch it for yourself, you will never be the same. My name is Ryan Andreasen and proud to be a “Star Nerd” and volunteer for the Utah Chapter of the International Dark Sky Association
Devaki ananda murch
Boulder Night Sky
Devaki Murch currently resides in the town of Boulder, Utah. She grew up on the island of Kauai, in the middle of the Pacific. The dark skies of the Colorado Plateau feel like home to this island girl. Her commitment to the dark skies and mission to encourage others to explore their relationship to the night sky is what fuels her projects. She is currently the program director for Boulder Night Sky, a contributor to the Southeastern Utah Night Sky Reserve efforts and on the Board of the International Dark Sky Association – Utah Chapter.
National Audubon Society
Heidi Hoven is a wetland ecologist, having earned her PhD in Natural Resource Management and MS in Plant Biology from the University of New Hampshire with a special interest in saline systems and plant physiology, and landed her career at one of the ‘birdiest’ and saltiest places: Great Salt Lake. She is currently the assistant Gillmor Sanctuary manager for National Audubon Society where she learned first-hand of an alarming and growing threat to migrating birds – light pollution. With the onset of a state correctional facility being constructed one mile from the sanctuary and the fast-paced development of inland port facilities, she became keenly interested in helping promote bird-friendly artificial lighting policy around Great Salt Lake and other Important Bird Areas of Utah. She co-authored a poster at the 2017 ALAN conference at Snowbird, Utah, and co-chairs the Lighting Ordinance Committee for the Utah IDA chapter. When she’s not out working for shorebirds at Gillmor, she mentors data analysis on her daughter and son’s robotics team, loves playing in the mountains, water and desert, and helps run her family’s biodynamic produce farm in the summer.
Salt Lake Astronomical Society and Utah Valley Astronomy Club
Wayne is retired from the USAF as a Special Operations Pilot and from Russell Investments where he was an account manager as well as the COO of Global Business Analysis and CEO of Global Business Resources. He enjoyed seeing the heavens and the stars from 30 and 40 thousand feet when he was flying. Wayne has many years of volunteering and working with communities. While living in the PNW he was an elected commissioner of a regional parks and recreation district for 6 years as well as helping to organize community emergency response teams. He recently moved to UT from the PNW and has been enjoying the large night skies. He has several telescopes and is on the board of the Utah Valley Astronomy Club and a member of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society. He loves the night skies and wants to ensure that as many individuals and families as possible can see the stars, planets, and the beautiful Milky Way. He is now learning astrophotography to enjoy lasting images.
Duke Johnson is currently Associate Director of the Clark Planetarium, he works to provide inspirational experiences for a wide audience. He holds a Master’s Degree in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota. Growing up in North Dakota, he enjoyed truly dark night skies and relished amazing views of the Milky Way. The advent of digital photography allowed him to focus on place-based astrophotography throughout Utah and surrounding states. Throughout his adventures in photography, he has seen firsthand how our clear dark skies have disappeared over the last 20 years.
University of Utah Physics & Astronomy Department
I teach and do astronomy research on nearby galaxies and supermassive black holes at the University of Utah. One of the things I love most about Utah is how easy it is to get out to dark places and sit under the stars. As our state grows, we need more dark sky advocates to help keep that experience available. I’ve been involved in the development of the minor in dark sky studies at the U, and run a dark sky and astronomy outreach internship down at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Utah Valley Astronomy Club