Melissa was raised on a dairy farm in Minnesota. While studying in England, she met her future husband and soon moved to Houston, Texas, where she worked as an engineering coordinator on the Pocket PC team at Compaq Computers (and Hewlett-Packard after the companies merged). While obtaining her master's degree in business administration, Melissa made the tough decision to step away from her job to focus on being a full-time parent and student. Shortly after she finished her degree, Melissa's family moved to Colorado. Her first ride on the C&TS was the Cinder Bear Express in 2007, to celebrate her daughter's 2nd birthday. Melissa's love for education and children prompted her to spend countless hours volunteering at her kids’ schools, coordinating enrichment activities, and working as a substitute teacher. Melissa started a science fair program in her local school district that has been going strong for more than a decade and has around 100 participants each year. Thus, it is fitting that Melissa is a team lead for the Friends' education program and is working to inspire young riders to learn about and develop a lifelong love of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.