Meet the GEAR UP Staff

Photo of Sam Garetson
GEAR UP Director

Travis Anderson



Photo of Sam Garetson
GEAR UP Program Manager

Sam Garetson


I became a Montanan four years ago and haven't looked back. My first introduction to Montana living was the spoiling of a lifetime. I lived and worked 2 years near Flathead lake with the Upward Bound team at Salish Kootenai College where I developed my passion for higher education and it’s advantages for low-income students in Montana’s rural places. As the Gear Up Program Manager I’m excited to prepare students with academic and social experiences that will challenge their world views and honor their traditions moving into their next stage of life.

Outside of state education I strive to spend as much time discovering the ubiquitous nooks and crannies strewn all over Montana’s wildlands. Activities include but aren’t limited to backpacking, bagging peaks, studying maps, walking in the woods and playing tennis. 

Photo of Karen Wilson
GEAR UP School Grants Manager

Karen Wilson


Karen Wilson is a first generation graduate of Montana State University. Most of her career, Karen has served the needs of students kindergarten through college. She’s been with the State GEAR UP Team since October 2018. In her off time, she enjoys playing pinochle and creating art.

GEAR UP College Access and Manager




Photo of Kelly Hert
Federal Accountant

Kelly Hert


Kelly has been the Federal Accountant for the Office of the Commissioner for the past 17 years and has been a part of the GEAR UP team since 2002. Many of the GEAR UP liaisons have given her the name of “Match Queen” which has been a great source of laughter over the years.

She likes to spend her free time with family camping, enjoying Montana’s great outdoors and spoiling her three grandchildren.

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Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
560 N. Park Ave. • PO Box 203201 • Helena, Montana 59620-3201 • Phone 406.449.9140 • FAX 406.449.9171 •

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