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Deep in the Tusas Mountains west of Taos
One of the most magnificent landscapes in New Mexico
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About the Ranch

Go to the woods.
Come into the presence of still waters.
Walk in the silence of ancient forests.
Rest on the banks of the Vallecitos River.
Listen to the land and your heart.

For two decades the Vallecitos Mountain ranch, a wilderness learning and retreat center, has offered unique programs grounded in the power of mindful awareness and a direct engagement with the natural world.

Nationally renowned teachers lead retreats and trainings at Vallecitos in meditation, mindfulness practice, personal growth, professional development, continuing education, and yoga. The ranch is available for private retreats, conferences and special events.

The Vallecitos Mountain Refuge is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

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Vallecitos Announces a new Executive Director, Co-Guiding Teacher and Staff for its 2014 Season

December 10th, 2013

A heartfelt welcome to our NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CO-GUIDING TEACHER, and STAFF for our 2014 SEASON

The Board of Directors is excited to announce the appointment of a new Executive Director, Co-Guiding Teacher and Staff for our 2014 season.

All organizations change, including their management. The Board of Directors of Vallecitos unanimously accepted the resignation of the executive director and ranch manager this past summer.  The Board and new management remain committed to the financial health and integrity of Vallecitos and the highest standards of management and professionalism of its staff. This change in management will serve the best interests of Vallecitos, its mission, and the thousands of yogis who have come to the ranch, and the thousands more we look forward to serving.  

Vallecitos is sacred to so many people. We thank you for your understanding (and support from so many of you!) during this important time of transition. We are confident that Vallecitos is entering a new era and we are excited to announce our 2014 schedule in the coming weeks. It is packed with retreats taught by teachers with exceptional knowledge, experience and skill. 

We are honored to introduce our new team who is already preparing to serve our yogis in the coming season.  We hope to see everyone in the mountains next summer! 

Melissa Morman, Board of Directors President 


Jim Norton, Executive Director

Jim Norton attended the very first meditation retreat at Vallecitos 20 years ago and has been coming back to the ranch ever since.  A graduate of Williams College with a degree in biology, he also did graduate work at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the oldest and most prestigious graduate forestry program in the country. Aldo Leopold graduated from the Yale program in 1908 and built a house in Tres Piedras – just miles from the ranch – when he was Supervisor of the Carson National Forest.

Jim has had a distinguished career in non-profit, education and government sectors.  He brings a wealth of executive and management expertise and experience to his leadership position at Vallecitos.  In addition, he brings 20 years of meditation practice and an intimate knowledge of the ranch and the management of its lands and facilities.

Jim was Regional Director for the Wilderness Society for twelve years in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he led legislative campaigns in Washington, DC and the Southwest to protect public land and successfully add 2.5 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

For eight years he served under Governor Bill Richardson as Director of the Environmental Protection Division where he provided strategic leadership for five programs within the Environment Department, developed a comprehensive climate change program in New Mexico, including mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and enforced environmental regulations resulting in approximately $500 million of penalties for coal, oil and gas facilities.

Jim has taught science in the Santa Fe schools for 9 years. He has served on many non-profit and government Boards and Commissions.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be the New Executive director of the Vallecitos Mountain Ranch,” says Jim. “I had the good fortune to attend the very first retreat at Vallecitos almost twenty years ago and the ranch has held a special place in my heart since then. This job is the perfect combination of my environmental and management experience with my contemplative practice and I am excited to serve the Vallecitos community for many years to come.”

Erin Treat, Co-Guiding Teacher

The Board is delighted to announce that Erin Treat has accepted our invitation to join Grove Burnett, founder and current Guiding Teacher, as Co-Guiding Teacher. The role of the Co-Guiding Teacher is to hold and embody the values and mission of the organization.

Erin lives in Durango, Colorado (just 3 hours from the ranch!) and has been actively practicing mindfulness and meditation for nearly 20 years and teaching since 2005.   A graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Training, she is currently being trained by Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield and others to teach intensive retreats at Spirit Rock and the Insight Meditation Society. She serves on the teaching council of the Durango Dharma Center and is a faculty member of the Vallecitos Mountain Ranch. 

She currently gives talks, leads classes, and teaches meditation retreats in the southwest and nationwide.  She also teaches mindfulness trainings in a variety of secular settings, from the military to healthcare professionals. Erin maintains a private practice in which she offers a somatic, mindfulness-based approach to working with trauma and as a practicing body worker for 18 years.

Erin will be helping the Board, with the recommendations from our faculty, to formally establish a Teachers’ Council and Ethics Council at Vallecitos.  The Teacher’s Council advises the Executive Director and the Board on the type of programs, rentals, trainings and retreats that are consistent with our mission. The Ethics Council formulates and sets in place the code of ethics governing the relationships between teachers and students.

Erin loves the ranch and the land.  ”Vallecitos is my favorite place in the world to teach!  What an incredible setting to support our deepest liberation.” We are thrilled about her expanded leadership role at Vallecitos.

Sarah Wolters, Operations Manager

Sarah Wolters was born in the hill country of central Texas and spent much of her youth as a barefoot explorer. After graduating college with a degree in Environmental Studies and Human Ecology, she travelled extensively in North America, South America and South-East Asia before the enchantment of New Mexico stopped her in her tracks. She lives with her husband, baby and dog in Taos, New Mexico where she loves hiking the gorgeous New Mexican terrain, cooking, sewing and spending time with her family. She enjoys interacting with the diverse and interesting people that travel the world over to come to Vallecitos.

 Jennifer Love, Retreat Manager

Jennifer sat her first silent retreat at a yoga center in 2010, where the yoga teacher blended the insights and practices of yoga with Buddhist mindfulness practice and meditation. She has sat retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society and locally with Mid-America Dharma. She traveled the U.S. for six months in 2012, visiting a variety of retreat centers and working in exchange for room and board. She spent over a month at Vallecitos as a ranch volunteer before she accepted a paid position at Spirit Rock. She brings to Vallecitos her dedication to her daily meditation and mindfulness practice.  She is very happy to be returning to the mountains and the ranch and is very eager and honored to serve as retreat manager for our packed 2014 schedule. She will greet you warmly as you return for your retreat next summer!

Rushan Perera, Chef

Rushan is a native of Sri Lanka, a diverse country with a rich Buddhist heritage known as “the teardrop of India” for it’s shape and as a ‘nation of people smiling’, which is the first thing you will notice when you meet Rushan.  He loves being in nature and working at Vallecitos where he brings his generous spirit and smiles to all he serves. In the kitchen you will find him creating healthy, nourishing cuisine for the visiting yogis. “I love creating healthy food inspired by my culture. Being in service to the wonderful teachers and yogis at Vallecitos is something I look forward to and truly enjoy.”

Jana Green, Chef

Jana is a cook and an artist who lives deep in the forest at the southeastern end of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Her retreat cooking experience began during a year long residency at a Zen Buddhist community and translates well to the isolated location of Vallecitos Ranch. She likes to utilize local, in season vegetables, when possible, and spice minimally so that the flavors of the produce can shine through. She prefers a simple, earthy style of cooking and eating, without too many frills and no excess. Vallecitos is a perfect setting for these qualities as the yogis get down to the bare essentials and can then experience the food more mindfully.