Staff Profiles

Meet the Staff: Kassie Kehrer, NCOAE Executive Assistant

By NCOAE Headquarters September 4, 2020

Staff Profiles

Kassie Kehrer is our new executive assistant, tasked with ensuring the efficiency of our Wilmington, N.C., office here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE). In addition, Kassie is responsible for enrolling students in our many medical trainings, outdoor education courses, and backcountry trips. She’s also the go-to person when it comes to customer service and support, collecting enrollment paperwork, and making sure things are running smoothly for students and staff members alike.

Born in Schenectady, N.Y., and raised in Washington State, Kassie attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., where she majored in recreation with a concentration in Recreational Therapy & Child Life Services.

Prior to joining us at NCOAE, Kassie spent the past six years working for the YMCA of the Triangle in Raleigh, N.C., with four of those years in the position of director of Camp Rising Sun. She said the job gave her the opportunity to coach and hire staff and build an inclusive environment for kids of all abilities.

Prior to that, Kassie worked in a variety of roles, ranging from counselor to kayak instructor, at places like Camp Wingate Kirkland in Yarmouthport, Mass.; Brookline Parks and Recreation in Brookline, Mass.; Camp Indianola in Indianola, Wash.; and Camp Greenville in Cleveland, S.C.

In college, Kassie was a recreational therapist and Child Life intern at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston. She then went on to work as a program coordinator at the Henderson School for Inclusion in Dorchester, Mass., and served as a behavioral therapist at The May Institute in Boston.

We asked Kassie to tell us a little bit about herself, and here is what she had to say: (more…)

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Get to Know Us: Dr. Christopher Davis, NCOAE Medical Director

By NCOAE Headquarters January 11, 2020

Staff Profiles

Dr. Christopher Davis, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s medical director, spent most of his adult life combining his passion for helping others with his love of the outdoors.

He serves as medical director for all of our field courses and trainings, including wilderness medicine and EMS training programs, ad outdoor educator and adventure-based programs. These include custom programs developed by NCOAE, school programs, and branded adventures. And, of course, he loves to spend time in the field teaching.

Raised in Raleigh, N.C., Davis discovered his passion for emergency medicine and emergency medical services as an undergrad, teaching whitewater kayaking, rock climbing and backpacking for Duke University’s outdoor program — Outdoor Adventures.

After leaving Duke in 2006, Davis ran a small adventure travel company, taking customers on sailing adventures throughout the Caribbean and along the North Carolina coast. He also worked as a paramedic and firefighter in Durham, N.C., where he found time to teach wilderness medicine.

Davis began focusing more of his time on medicine, both front country and wilderness EMS, which inspired him to further his education. He applied to medical school, earning his MD from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, followed by training at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C.

He now serves on the faculty at the Wake Forest School of Medicine where he is an assistant professor in Emergency Medicine, specializing in integrating high-quality EMS care into wilderness settings.

We asked Dr. Davis to provide us with some additional information about his background, and to answer a few personal questions that our community might find interesting. Here is his response:  (more…)

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Get to Know Us: Julius McAdams, EMS Program Director

By NCOAE Headquarters March 6, 2019

Staff Profiles

Back in December of last year, we asked key NCOAE administrative and field staff to share some of the things for which they were most grateful. Those gratitude’s, as they’ve become to be known around here, comprised our year-ending blog post for 2018. And if you read that post, you may recall that today’s featured staff member — NCOAE EMS Program Director Julius McAdams — thrives on teamwork and the quality of our students.

Born and raised near our headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, Julius ascended to the role of Program Director in early-October of 2018, having previously served as one of our very capable and enthusiastic EMT Training Instructors. In his current position, Julius is responsible for coordinating and scheduling all of The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s emergency medical services-related trainings, as well as teaching some courses and helping prepare our students to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam.

As we do with our staff profiles and ‘get to know us’ posts, we asked Julius to tell us about his background, and here’s what he had to say: (more…)

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Get to Know Us: Ricardo Flores, NCOAE Field Instructor

By NCOAE Headquarters November 9, 2018

Staff Profiles

The thing that makes Ricardo Flores exceedingly well qualified to serve as a National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education field instructor is his love of the outdoors and experience in group dynamics through his corporate  management experience.

Image of NCOAE field instructor Ricardo Flores

Specifically, Ricardo formerly worked as a logistics manager and a project manager for Proctor & Gamble, which was No. 42 on the Fortune 500 list last year. That’s not too shabby. In addition, he is a former CEO of an adventure tourism company, and a field instructor for Outward Bound.

In fact, Ricardo has been a wilderness aficionado since the age of 12, having spent 13 years in the Boy Scouts, plus, he’s amassed a boatload of summer camp, personal trip, and tour-guiding experiences. This Port Neches, Texas, native has professional certifications that include Project Management Professional (PMP), Leave No Trace (LNT) master educator, and Wilderness First Responder (WFR).

We asked Ricardo to fill in some blanks in his resume and tell us more about his life. Here’s what he had to say: (more…)

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Get to Know Us: Chris Brooks, NCOAE’s EMS Program Director

By NCOAE Headquarters June 15, 2018

Staff Profiles

Growing up in a small town in the foothills of North Carolina, Chris Brooks claims his lifetime dream from the age of 5 was to become a paramedic. Today, he is the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program Director here at The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE), where he teaches EMS courses in order to equip the next generation of emergency medical providers to become the best at what they do.

Chris arrived here at NCOAE in the summer of 2015 when he was hired as a part-time EMS instructor. But long before that, Chris had his eyes set on rescuing others on the trail or in the wild. He attended a community college right out of high school, receiving an Associate of Science degree in EMS in 1997 and became a paramedic when he turned 19 years old.

He later attended the Emergency Medical Care Bachelor of Science pre-med degree program at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and continued to work as a paramedic until 2005 when he took a supervisory position at an EMS agency in upstate South Carolina.

Four years later, he was hired on as an anatomy and physiology lab instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., soon becoming the anatomical laboratory director at that college’s Levine Campus.

We asked Chris to fill us in on the rest of his life — particularly in regard to his work at NCOAE’s Wilmington campus and his lifelong career choice. Here’s what he had to say: (more…)

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Staff Profile: Meg Young, Director of Admissions

By NCOAE Headquarters April 10, 2018

Staff Profiles

Meg Young joined the staff team here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education late last year as office manager and was swiftly promoted to director of admissions. She works closely with our students to ensure their registration and enrollment process goes as smoothly as possible — something she believes sets them up to succeed throughout our courses and trainings.

Meg attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) for two separate degrees. She received her first degree in 2010, which was a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. Four years later Meg went back to get her Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Nonprofit Management, which she received in 2016.

We recently sat down with Meg for an interview focusing on her path to NCOAE and a variety of other topics we’d thought you — the readers of the NCOAE Blog — would appreciate. Here’s what she had to say:

NCOAE: Where did you grow up and what did the 7-year-old and 11-year-old Meg want to be when they grew up?

Meg: I grew up in Richmond, Virginia. I’m not sure if I was quite 7 years old, but there is written evidence that my first career aspirations were to be a (more…)

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Staff Profile: Liz Shirley, NCOAE’s Program Coordinator

By NCOAE Headquarters January 16, 2018

Staff Profiles

Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), it’s not always necessary for employees to be front and center in order to be seen as a vital asset to our operations.

Take Liz Shirley for example. Sure, this veteran outdoor program director can often be found leading our clients on a variety of backcountry trips and programs. And to be sure, hers is a friendly face around our North Carolina headquarters. But as our fulltime program coordinator, Liz most often can be found working behind the scenes — primarily on course logistics.

This busy outdoor education industry executive is in charge of staff recruitment, training, and supervision; planning new course areas; and the always evolving processes we have in place for communicating with clients and students. She also oversees all of our trip logistics — an area of focus that includes course schedules, gear, food and transportation. In addition, Liz works with our founders to review and update our corporate policies and procedures when the need arises.

Describing herself as an outdoor jack-of-all-trades, Liz was able to tear herself away from her responsibilities to answer a few personal questions about herself for this post.

Here’s what she had to say:

NCOAE: Where did you go to college, what year did you graduate and what did you study?

Liz Shirley: I graduated in 2007 from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in Leisure Services. I knew by my junior year of college that I wanted to work as an outdoor professional, and I haven’t looked back.

NCOAE: What was the gateway to your outdoor addiction?

Liz: I’d have to say scouting. I began at the age of five, camping and exploring the outdoors with my troop. There was also a creek behind my house growing up, so I was often down there and in the woods tromping around — building forts, catching crawdads, etc. Then, when I was 15, my Girl Scout troop went on a five-day wilderness trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1m+-acre wilderness area within the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, and after that I was hooked on the backcountry experience.

NCOAE: Who was it that most shaped your early outdoor experiences?

Liz: My parents took my brother and I camping a lot when we were young. Our family vacations almost always consisted of a visit to a state park to camp or a stay in a cabin. The place we went most often was a tucked-away campsite in Oklahoma along the banks of the Illinois River. I vividly recall pulling up through the woods in the family Buick. We’d set up camp, then spend our days swimming, fishing, canoeing, and exploring along the river. We roasted hot dogs or sometimes a fish we’d caught for dinner.

NCOAE: How have you been shaped by the outdoor places you’ve visited?

Liz: Where to start! I can’t imagine who I’d be without outdoor experiences because they totally shaped who I am today. Early experiences built my confidence and allowed me to discover a place where I belong. I found that today, I learn something at every new place I visit. I learn about the history of the area and its environment, and I learn about myself. It continually shapes me.

NCOAE: Give us a quick and dirty timeline of the progression of your outdoor experiences?

Liz: As a kid, I mostly experienced the outdoors by exploring the woods around my house, being part of family camping trips, and participating in Girl Scouts. When I was 19, I became a camp counselor and they sent me as a co-leader on a backpacking trip to the woods of Missouri. After that summer, I became a canoe guide, leading extended day wilderness expeditions in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Provincial Park (a large wilderness park in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, renowned for its excellent canoeing and fishing). My experience just grew from there. I’ve led backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and skiing trips across the United States, and worked in many capacities as a trip leader, outdoor educator, naturalist, program director, camp director, and course director.  

NCOAE: Was there ever a time when you thought this is nuts and I should quit doing this?

Liz: Never. Bring on the nuts! Seriously . . . it’s all about what you can push through. I recall one portage in the Boundary Waters where I suddenly sank chest deep in mud, with a canoe on my shoulders and mosquitoes swarming around. On a course in Alaska, my co-leader and I literally swam our canoes through the mud — participants and gear loaded up in the boats. The lake we had planned to “paddle” only had about an inch of water in it. There are many more stories and many more challenges. But that’s all part of the fun.

NCOAE: If you had a non-outdoor industry sponsor who would it be?

Liz: A coffee company that would happily provide a delicious dark roast. Enjoying unlimited free, fair trade, shade-grown coffee every morning on the trail would be excellent.

NCOAE: What excites you when you think about your future in the outdoor education industry?

Liz: All the new experiences that are out there and new skills to learn. There are so many ways to experience the outdoors and I love them all — at least every one that I’ve tried. I’m looking forward to picking up new outdoor sports, like surfing, and continually experiencing new places.

NCOAE: If you had super power strength, what would it be and why?

Liz: Flying, definitely flying. I can think of a whole new realm of outdoor experiences that could go with my new super power.

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Fall 2017 Intern Adam Parish

By NCOAE Headquarters September 22, 2017

Staff Profiles

North Carolina native Adam Parish hails from a coastal town called Newport that is located about 100 miles northeast of our headquarters in Wilmington. He attends the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, where he is majoring in recreation, sports leadership and tourism management — a degree he expects to pick up next spring.

Prior to accepting an internship position here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), Adam was a marine science technician with the United States Coast Guard. Our newest intern says his favorite pastimes include surfing, hunting, kayaking, and exercising.

As we often do on our blog, today we offer a brief and very informal synopsis of our newest NCOAE staffer. With that being said, and the only serious question posed at the outset of the interview, below are some winsome, hardly worthwhile queries we placed before our new intern. They’re included here mostly for our edification and entertainment, as well as for “look back material” that we can reference when Adam makes it to the big time in the field outdoor- and adventure-based experiential education:

NCOAE: Why did you apply to be an NCOAE recreation intern, and what do you hope to gain from the experience?

Adam Parish: I participated in one of NCOAE’s Wilderness First Aid courses and thought the staff as a whole was great. Individually, they were really knowledgeable, skillful and they created a fun learning atmosphere. I got to know more about the organization and its mission and I felt interning would be a great learning experience. Basically, I hope that by the end of the fall internship I will have expanded my technical wilderness skills and gained valuable hands-on experience in coordinating outdoor adventure education programs.

NCOAE: If you had super power strength, what would it be and why?

Adam: My superpower would be to have super speed. I just think it would be awesome.

NCOAE: What was the last costume you wore?

Adam: I don’t remember the last costume I put on. But I’m old and losing my memory.

NCOAE: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being weirdest, exactly how weird are you and how did you get that way?

Adam: Probably a seven! Who knows how I got to be so weird, but being weird is fun. Besides, what constitutes normal these days?

NCOAE: A penguin walks through the door at NCOAE Headquarters wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Adam: He says he’s there to hang out with the awesome people who work here.

NCOAE: What do you think about when you’re alone in the wilderness?

Adam: I don’t think. I just kick back and relax!

NCOAE: Finish this sentence: In 10 years from now, I will be…

Adam: I’m planning on enjoying life to the fullest because life is short and that is the only way to live!

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5 New Staff and Instructors Join the NCOAE Family

By NCOAE Headquarters March 15, 2017

Staff Profiles

Here at The National Center for Outdoor Education & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we recently welcomed three new field instructors, a climbing instructor and a program coordinator to our outstanding team of staff members.

Earlier this year, these five candidates — two women and three men — successfully completed our Winter 2017 Instructor Candidate Training Program, becoming part of a staff treasure trove that annually attracts some of the best outdoor and experientially-based wilderness educators in the country.

Much of the success of our Instructor Candidate education goes to our training program, where NCOAE instructors work directly with candidates who — on their own steam — are highly qualified outdoor educators.

Many of these candidates have worked for top-drawer wilderness organizations, and our training serves as a means of taking their experience and fine-tuning it to fit NCOAE’s extremely comprehensive curriculum.

Our candidates tell us that despite their prior instructor training and experience, an intensive week of training at our North Carolina headquarters only serves to ratchet up that experience, giving them something more meaningful when guiding and instructing in the field with NCOAE’s students and participants.

But enough about us. Let’s meet these five new NCOAE staff members: (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Field Instructor Forrest Stavish

By Office Admin January 29, 2016

Staff Profiles

Forrest StavishNorth Carolina native Forrest Stavish is a National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) field instructor who also happens to be a lifelong hiker, backpacker and climbing enthusiast. He is a member of the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), where he received his single-pitch climbing instructor certification, and is a qualified Wilderness EMT. He holds a SARTECH II search and rescue certification and on top of all that, he is an Assistant Fire Chief.

As we do from time to time here on NCOAE Blog, we thought it would be appropriate to find out more about this ace climbing instructor, so we put him on the spot and posed some serious — and some fun — questions for him to answer:

NCOAE: Tell us about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

Forrest Stavish: After taking my Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training, I realized that I could use the skills I learned to help my local community. And I continue to do so as a volunteer EMT and Assistant Fire Chief.

NCOAE: Who is your role model, and why?

Forrest: I can narrow it down to two people — one being someone I know and the other I never met. (more…)

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A Tip of Our Cap to the Wilderness Medical Society

By Office Admin September 19, 2015

Staff Profiles

Wilderness-Medical-Society-WMSOne thing we don’t do here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education is work within a vacuum. We depend heavily upon many organizations that went before us or that help us realize our mission and full potential.

Today, we’d like to shine the light on one of those groups that works behind the scenes to ensure that our efforts in outdoor education, adventure travel and backcountry guiding continue to benefit from standards that keep us and our clients safe and sound in the wilderness.

Specifically, we’d like to tell you briefly about the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS), which was formed in 1983 by three California physicians — Drs. Paul Auerbach, Ed Geehr and Ken Kizer — who integrated the sound principles of medical practice within a wilderness setting.

The specific purpose of the Wilderness Medical Society was to encourage, foster, support, and conduct activities or programs concerned with life sciences, which may improve the scientific knowledge of the membership and the general public in matters related to wilderness environments and human activities in these environments.

As envisioned by these three physicians, WMS evolved into the world’s leading organization devoted to wilderness medical challenges. What challenges? These include wild animal attacks, wilderness trauma, expedition and disaster medicine, dive medicine, search and rescue, altitude illness, and weather-related illnesses.

This society explores health risks and (more…)

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Zac Adair and Seeing the Backcountry Through a Soda Straw

By Office Admin June 20, 2015

Staff Profiles
Zac Adair NCOAE

It’s been a while since Zac Adair and his wife, Celine, co-founded The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), and while it would be nice to think they jumped into this challenging not-for-profit enterprise with eyes wide open, that wouldn’t be completely accurate.

Yes, going into it they had a great game plan. They had previously founded and run two other outdoor education organizations — a not-for-profit named Panacea Adventures, and the Adventure Education Institute (AEI) — which they merged to create NCOAE. But these North Carolina-based outdoor educators — raising their infant child — were working under a disadvantage that certainly couldn’t be ignored in the planning stages of NCOAE. And while some would consider it a major hurdle to their career plans, Zac and Celine saw it more as a nuisance.

So much so, in fact, that they haven’t felt it necessary to bring up the fact that Zac — a veteran surfer, rock climber, whitewater river guide and outdoors program business manager — lost the majority of his vision when he was struck on his bicycle by an automobile back in 2003.

And now, more than a dozen years later, he has less than 2 percent vision left (in just one eye) and he describes that vision through his good eye as, “seeing the world through a soda straw.”

The accident happened in Nags Head, N.C., in the late summer of 2003 while Zac was riding home on his bicycle after a session in the surfline. He was struck by a taxi traveling at 59 miles per hour. Zac was on life support for a full week. His cervical spine was broken in four places, his right leg was broken, he suffered severe right scapula damage, and as a result of the trauma, a year later he lost 98 percent of his vision in one eye, and 100 percent of his vision in his other eye.

Zac Adair Executive Director NCOAE

Not many people — even those closely associated with NCOAE — are aware of Zac’s blindness, nor is it something the couple really cares to have bandied about. In fact, few of the course and training participants who meet Zac at NCOAE headquarters in Wilmington prior to departing for a local trip have any notion that our co-founder is legally blind.

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Co-Founder and Director of Operations Celine Adair

By Office Admin September 12, 2014

Staff Profiles

ncoae-team_celine-adairEditor’s Note: In our continuing effort to introduce the staff at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we decided we’d go straight to the top of the ladder and quiz Celine Adair, our co-founder and director of operations.

Celine is in charge of a lot of things here at NCOAE, including grant writing, staff development, policy development, curriculum development, office management, student and parent liaison, and some billing and bookkeeping in her free time. Originally from a small town about an hour north of New York City, Celine majored in wilderness therapy and marriage and family therapy, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999 from Prescott College (Ariz.) and a Masters degree in marriage and family therapy in 2005 from Argosy University.

Celine is married to Zac Adair, NCOAE’s executive director and the second “Co” in the co-founder set. Here’s Celine in her own words:

NCOAE: So how did a girl from Brewster, N.Y., end up in a college in Prescott, Ariz.?

Celine: It was big wonderful chain of events that lead me to Arizona. I was awarded a soccer scholarship for a Division III school in Virginia. When I arrived, I immediately knew I was in the wrong town and at the wrong school. To make things worse, I injured my ankle in the preseason and was unable to play a lick of the game that got me there.

I was young and I didn’t have the courage or insight to do anything about my unhappiness, so I quickly turned into an unmotivated freshman. That spring I crossed paths with a director for a summer camp in North Carolina who offered me a job because she saw that I worked well with kids. 

The director asked what are my special interests were and I referenced the environmental group ‘Unless’ that my best friend and I started in high school. The director put me on the backpacking and rock climbing staff, thinking it would be a good fit. By the end of that summer, I had slept out under the stars more nights then I was inside under a roof — and I thought that was the greatest concept ever! Before that summer I had never even seen a backpack, a camp stove or a topo map.

However, my first attempt of living this new dream was a failed mission. I applied for a job in Utah to lead three-week-long backcountry courses. They turned me down, big time. I still remember the phone interview — which was really more like HR lecturing me that I was too young and inexperienced.

I didn’t want to return to school, in the wake of my freshman year failure where I achieved horrible grades and had a throng of not-so-great people hanging out in my dorm room.

I came across Prescott Colleges’ 1996 course catalogue and I thought, “This is were I need to be.” So I made it happen. I came up with a plan and I implemented it. I pick up my grads, became a certified EMT, trained and worked on the Gauely and New River and applied to transfer to Prescott my junior year.

NCOAE: Tell us about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

Celine: That same summer I was hired at the camp, I climbed “The Daddy,” which is a classic climb in Linville Gorge, N.C. It’s an easy climb, but long and exposed. The last pitch is a summit pitch and when you top out, you are on this beautiful mountaintop in an amphitheater of rock. I had a feeling of being limitless.

And then, of course, there was the adventure of giving birth to my son, Sawyer.

NCOAE: On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?

Celine: Not at all. I mean, I guess a little. It really depends on the day and if I’ve had my exercise. Things can get weird when I don’t. (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE EMS Program Coordinator and Instructor Donald Burns

By Office Admin August 6, 2014

Staff Profiles
Donald Burns of NCOAE

Donald Burns of NCOAE

This time around in our continuing series of posts that reveal the people who work here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we’re pleased to introduce the guy who heads our emergency medical technician (EMT) program. Donald Burns coordinates our intensive 19-day EMT-Basic training schedule and everything else that has to do with equipping wilderness guides, outdoor educators, ambulance crew members, police officers, firemen, and even military specialists with the medical protocols required to help others in emergency medical situations.

Here’s Donald, in his own words:

NCOAE: Tell us about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

Donald: I would say my senior year in high school. We were working on an end-of-year project about what we were going to do for our career. At that time I was struggling with the idea that my basketball career was over so, I went to visit my uncle at the local fire station. After the first call I was determined to be a firefighter/ paramedic and help people during their time of need. As a result, I’m now able to help NCOAE deliver quality EMT training to an audience that’s determined to learn the same craft I fell in love with back in high school.

NCOAE: Who is your role model, and why?

Donald: To me, a role model has to demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Clear set of values
  • Passion and ability to inspire
  • Commitment to community
  • Selflessness
  • Acceptance of others
  • The ability to overcome obstacles

That being said, my role models would be my parents. They’ve stood by me during all my dreams — even they turned out to be disappointments. They are always proactive in the local VFW post, and when I was a kid they made sure that we always were able to play sports and take vacations — even if that meant them working two jobs. For that I thank them, and I am proud to have them as my role models.

NCOAE: What do you think about when you are alone on the trail?

Donald: Where am I and how to I get outta here. Just kidding! To me, that time is when I reflect on my life and think about where I want to go and how I will get there. That quiet time is my time to reflect and preplan. (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Instructor Jena Honeyman

By Office Admin May 18, 2014

Staff Profiles

Jena Honeyman was born to teach, but not in the public school system where standardization appears to have removed hope of educating the individual. That’s why Honeyman — a native of Washington State who was raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York — is a perfect fit for the staff here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. Her recent experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail with friends convinced the 2011 graduate of the Univ. of North Carolina Wilmington to pursue a career that meshes the outdoors with education. She wants kids to know that they can learn and enjoy things without a bunch of money, as well as create memories to last a lifetime while preserving the world’s beauty for the next generation.

Get to know this self-described Amelia Earhart fan here, in our latest NCOAE Staff profile:

NCOAE: Tell us about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful?

Jena: For starters, we have to realize that everyday is meaningful. We will all be gone soon enough, so it’s important to live while we can. When teaching in the public school sector, a student wrote me a note that pulled at my heartstrings. I realized then it wasn’t a “could do” but that “I was” impacting lives. The note referred to the interesting approach I took to teaching and thanked me for the nature walks and classes in the sunshine. We all have the ability to connect as humans in so many beautiful ways if we just allow ourselves.

NCOAE: What do you think about when you’re alone on the trail?

Jena: In addition to being aware of my surroundings and safety, I wonder about random things such as… Do we have such an affinity for electronic music nowadays because we live in an age where we are so ‘linked in’ that our brains respond better to the frequency of a computer and not the soul of a bass string? Pretty random, right! And then I snap out of it and think about how I don’t want to be in love with a computer and its frequency, but instead with the soul of the artist. That’s when I realize that I’m an artist in just my walking and the way I move, and then I laugh at how ridiculous the thought is and I smile and hope I’m not the only one thinking such ridiculous things when alone on the trail.

NCOAE: What gets you excited?

Jena: SQUIRREL! Oh wait; that’s Penny my dog. But as you can sense, I’m as easily stoked as she is. Killer sunrises, sandy toes and warm coffee excite me, as does waking up to newly fallen snow — particularly of the light and fluffy variety, which is excellent for skiing. The warmth a wood stove gives off excites me (especially when tuned into the knowledge that I started, stoked and maintained that fire myself). Giving excites me. Giving a smile that creates one back or leads to laughter. Guiding someone to see a cliff, a view, or a vista and knowing that I am part of him or her forever because of that shared experience excites me.

NCOAE: On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?

Jena: You tell me… I (more…)

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I’m Shooting in the Rain — Creation of an Outdoor Education Video

By Office Admin March 13, 2014

Staff Profiles
Matt Evans

Matt Evans

In this day and age, when practically anyone with a Smartphone can publish a video online, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. For example, consider our latest video (see below) for the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).

At first glance, this video has all the appearance of having been created on an iPhone, but don’t be fooled. That look is intentional because while great video footage looks effortless to conceptualize and create, it’s anything but.

That’s why we’re so proud of our affiliation with outdoor and adventure videographer, Matt Evans, who also just so happens to be an assistant instructor here at NCOAE. Matt graduated from college with a pair of degrees — one in filmmaking, and the other in business administration. And while both have served him well over the years, it’s the film degree that’s proven to be highly beneficial to NCOAE.

Here’s that video he created for us, and below that is our interview with Matt, focusing on the challenges and opportunities associated with shooting outdoor education video footage:

NCOAE: What are some of the challenges of shooting video footage in the backcountry?

Matt Evans: The challenges when dealing with shoots like the ones I handled for NCOAE were numerous and varied, and included finding lightweight cameras and equipment, having the proper physical space to get the shot, dealing with weather, and making sure you have an ample supply of batteries.

NCOAE: Let’s start with the batteries. How did you manage that?

Matt: When I was planning the trips that went into the creation of the video you see above (two separate 12- and eight-day trips), I knew there was no possible way to charge or change out batteries, or upload footage from the CF cards in the camera. So I actually brought six batteries into the backcountry, along with 200 GB of memory. In order to keep the batteries fresh and not waste any space, I favored shoots that were (more…)

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Staff Profile: NCOAE Staff Trainer and Co-instructor, Jill Valle

By Office Admin February 4, 2014

Staff Profiles

Editor’s Note: The work we do here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) matters because positive and profoundly empowering experiences are created when people choose to engage with themselves and one another in unique wilderness settings. With that in mind, we’re going to use our blog to introduce you to some of the very talented and highly skilled team members here at NCOAE who administer and guide our unique wilderness experience.

And here to start things off is Jill Valle, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Boston College and her master’s in counseling psychology from Lesley University. She is a licensed mental health counselor in Massachusetts and is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Jill is also an outdoor educator and artist who has worked with adolescents and adults for the past 15 years. She adamantly believes that the power of creativity and the wilderness can foster growth and empowerment in individuals and groups. 

But don’t take out word for it… here’s Jill, in her own words:

NCOAE: Tell us about a time when you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

ncoae-team_jill-vJill: When I was in college I was doing an internship in the inner city. It was a program that worked with at risk kids, helping them develop the skills to apply for, interview for and secure jobs in the community. I was most inspired by watching the students go through this process — the power of simply connecting with kids and allowing them to feel heard and seen, and supporting them in making a difference in their lives.

NCOAE: What was your guiding light in choosing to work as an outdoor educator instead of choosing a career such as a lawyer, computer tech, business management, etc?

Jill: It wasn’t really a choice – I couldn’t imagine doing more “conventional” nine-to-five work. The guiding force was a drive to do work that was meaningful, inspiring, transformative and healing – all of which I find in outdoor education

NCOAE: What influenced your decision to work for NCOAE?

Jill: Celine Adair – NCOAE’s co-founder and operations director – and I met while facilitating outdoor education experiences for Maui Surfer Girls in Hawaii. Our connection was instant and our chemistry while leading groups together was natural, authentic and transformational for us and for our participants. NCOAE’s mission and vision aligns with my philosophy about learning, growth, development and life in general and it is a privilege to be a part of the team.

NCOAE: What do you think about when you are alone on the trail?

Jill: I think about the beauty around me, the gratitude I have for being outdoors, the miraculous ability of my body to carry me through this world. Sometimes I think about nothing except the sound of my breath. Sometimes my mind wanders. Sometimes I am fully in the moment with the sights, sounds, creatures I may encounter along the path. I think about how amazing the quiet can be and I listen. I listen for the deep murmuring of my heart and soul. Some of my best inspirations, ideas, and insights come to me when I am alone on the trail.

NCOAE: What gets you excited?

Jill: Tapping into creative energy and getting out of the way to let it move through me. There’s taking photographs and making art, a delicious meal shared with family and friends, road trips, spontaneous adventures, surfing, yoga, laughing long and hard, being outdoors in nature, train travel, thinking up my next (more…)

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