Experienced Volunteer Leaders

All Wilderness Volunteers’ Leaders are experienced volunteers who generously give their time to plan and lead the trips. They are the heart of Wilderness Volunteers! If you have joined us one or more trips and are interested in becoming a volunteer leader, please contact us!

Sit back and read about this incredibly talented group of adventurers!

Jane Beckwith

Jane’s introduction to wilderness and the active and solitary opportunities that it offers began in the mid seventies when she and her young family went west to Oregon. Coming from the corn fields of Indiana, she had never experienced wild, beautiful and vast public lands. She gradually moved from “using” them to working to preserve them as an activist, serving with various environmental organizations in Oregon. She’s thankful Wilderness Volunteers allows the opportunity to give back to these lands she’s grown to love so much.

Carter and Robin Bland

Carter and Robin are recent transplants to the Western Slope of Colorado after living and working for many years in New York City and the Hudson Valley. They have been involved with WV since 2004, and volunteer time for numerous other organizations including Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, the NY-NJ Trail Conference and the Appalachian Mountain Club. They are experienced kayaking instructors and enjoy all aspects of skiing, hiking, biking and paddlesport.

Sue Blish

Sue grew up on a family farm in northwestern Minnesota and developed a love of the natural world at an early age while freely roaming those 240 acres with her sister and two brothers. A retired civil servant, she’s happy to be paid not to come to work and is even happier spending time outdoors fishing, biking, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and doing trail work. Likes include walks on the beach, campfires, and wielding a pick mattock.

Steve Breitbach

Steve is a Midwest transplant living in Sandy, Utah. He loves being outdoors in the intermountain west. For the last several years Steve has spent winters skiing and doing taxes through H&R Block. He spends spring, summer and fall doing cross country road trips, Wilderness Volunteer trips, camping and kayaking mountain lakes in Utah.

Lee Cooper

Lee has been leading WV trips in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, and Utah since 2006. He loves being in the wilderness as evidenced by the fact that he spends 6-7 weeks a year sleeping on his Therm A Rest. When home in Tucson, Arizona, he spends most weekends monitoring the backcountry and trails of Saguaro National Park East as a volunteer. Lee has always come away from WV trips amazed at the wonderful people he meets and how much work they accomplish.

Aaron Crosby

I discovered Wilderness Volunteers in 2012 from a WV advertisement that I had stashed away years earlier. Finding and replying to it changed my life. My first WV trip was Russian Olive removal along the Escalante River in Southern Utah, and I was immediately hooked by the vast and other-worldly landscape of canyon country. The companionship and camaraderie that I have had on my trips has increased my desire to do more trips, and my love of the wild outdoors and my enthusiasm for people has given me the confidence to learn how to lead trips. To keep from being consumed by man-made modernity and cramped urban living, I spend as much time as I can walking on stretches of idyllic New England beaches, and backpacking in the White Mountains, a relatively short but very steep and rugged mountain range, whose tree-less summits are subject to intense cold and wind. I have a Napoleon complex about the Whites, and feel the need to defend them; its tough competing with the big boys out west!

Stephen Dorsett

Stephen lives in Louisville, KY. He was originally involved in Boy Scouts and continued his love of the outdoors through his adult life. He enjoys hiking, canoeing, downhill and back country skiing. Trips include Utah, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and the Eastern States. His first Wilderness Volunteers trip was to the Colorado National Monument and he volunteered to lead trips shortly thereafter.

Tom Driscoll

Tom has bicycled across the US five times and backpacked in the Sierras since the early ’90s. Both activities refresh the soul with joy and sense of freedom. He satisfies the primal urge to dig in the ground, doing Wilderness Volunteers trips since 2001.

Norm Feaster

Norm loves hiking and back packing in the national parks and has been to many, my favorites are the Grand Canyon and Glacier. In 2000 he discovered the canyons on Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah and returns frequently to explore the canyons and enjoy the ruins and rock art. About the same time, he discovered WV and started doing yearly trips in 2003; the trail maintenance and archeological surveying trips take him to remote locations. He stays in condition for thee projects by training year round to compete in sprint distance triathlons. Back home in Tennessee he is on the boards of the Friends of the South Cumberland State Park Recreation Area, and the Friends of the State Parks Coalition, which supports the Friends groups across the state. He is a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee.

Katy Giorgio

Katy is a Massachusetts native but relocated to Juneau in 2012 to fulfill her long time dream of becoming an Alaskan. She enjoys the easy access to trails, glaciers, fishing, wildlife, skiing and the sea. Katy has done WV trips from New Hampshire to Alaska to New Mexico, and many places in between. If you ever find yourself on one of her trips, you’ll be guaranteed to hear a few of her legendary (family-friendly) jokes.

Bill Goolsby

I discovered WV through an ad in Backpacker Magazine and my first trip was to Caladesi Island, Florida, in 2005. Since then I have participated in 18 trips and led one. My wife Maggie has been on four trips with me as well, including twice at Chaco Canyon, NM. My leader training trip was in the Pecos Wilderness, NM, in the spring of 2016. My first trip as leader was that fall at Grand Staircase/Escalante, removing Russian Olive. I live in Atlanta but love going out west where the landscape is open and so different from the tree cover of Georgia. WV is a great way to see the US and appreciate its vastness and variety. I have a BMW motorcycle and ride it to WV trips whenever I can, thus combining my loves of motorcycle touring and being outside.

Max Gordon

Max is a Seattle-area native who loves to hike as well as maintain trails. He studied history and later public administration at the University of Washington. He got his start with trails work with AmeriCorps stints with groups like the Student Conservation Association. He has stayed involved as much as possible with various volunteer organizations such as Washington Trails Association and the Pacific Crest Trail Association. He first learned about Wilderness Volunteers while looking up opportunities to participate in environmental restoration in the Elwha River valley in Olympic National Park. Max’s first WV trip was in 2015 and he took the leader training in 2017. This organization has allowed him to see many different parts of this beautiful country and meet the passionate locals who keep them open to the public. He has lived in Olympia since 2014 where he works for a state environmental agency.

Susan Holling

Susan combines a love of food and cooking with an outdoor experience to find her little bit of heaven. A native Oregonian, she loves to be outside and especially meeting other outdoorsy people who don’t mind working hard. She has several WV trips under her belt and looks forward to many more.

Peyton Hutton

Peyton lives in Northern Virginia, and friends call him a “bulldozer in hiking boots” when clearing paths along the Appalachian Trail. He enjoys backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, southern Utah, and has learned that vegetarian food isn’t all that bad.

Jen Jackson

Jen lives in Sandpoint, Idaho, where she tries to balance life as a writer, wilderness explorer and environmental activist with her husband and baja-dog Dio. A recent transplant from the arid desert southwest, Jen’s returned to a soggy place reminicent of her childhood home of Medford, Oregon, but annually makes a journey to Escalante country to refresh her soul.

Ben Johnson

Ben grew up in Northeast Colorado but has spent a lot of time camping and backpacking in the mountains of Colorado and in Southern Utah. He has been backpacking since he was old enough to walk and carry the camp pan in his backpack. He lives in Grand Junction, CO where he enjoys backpacking, camping, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowshoeing. He has been on several WV trips and enjoys meeting others interested outdoor adventures.

Richard Johnson

Richard lives near Seattle and spends far too much time writing software. He has a chronic attachment to trail maintenance and likes it almost as much as hiking.

Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth is originally from the east coast and moved out west as fast as she could where she can enjoy the great outdoors daily not just as a weekend warrior. During the summers she spends her time biking & hiking and in the winters she teaches skiing in Steamboat Springs, CO. She has worked on many volunteer trail projects across the US, volunteers at the many biking events for Bike Town USA and she helps run Steamboat Movement (Yoga) Fest. She feels blessed to live in such a beautiful spot that just happens to be surrounded by 3 wilderness areas!

Tom Kasper

Inspired by my children’s trail maintenance work for Americorps and the Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club, I was recruited by a Wilderness Volunteers veteran, after having retired from managing the Wisconsin state building code program. My resulting experiences with Wilderness Volunteers have all been positive while working with like-minded volunteers in beautiful settings. My goal as a leader is to support other participants in also having positive experiences.

Maidie Kenney

Maidie is from Oregon and Northern California. She has been backpacking since 1970, and is always looking an opportunity to be in the wilderness. She also enjoys photography and travel. She works at REI and loves to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with others. She is excited to have found a venue of stewardship for the lands she enjoys.

Andy Kerr

Andy is lucky enough to live in Portland, OR with his wife Kathy. They have solar on their roof that runs the house and charges their car. Andy is episodically employed as a challenge course facilitator so that when he does his job, he’s outside in trees working and playing with people from 5th graders to seventy somethings. Andy loves leading with WV because we’re always outside forming groups of people determined to improve habitats while having surprising fun and getting amazing amounts of work done!

Bill and Sue Koenig

Bill and Sue are from the Chicagoland area. They are active in hiking, biking, running, swimming, and canoeing. They have lead WV trips to Arizona, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Maine and Wyoming. Sue had also volunteered on WV trips to Washington and California. Sue and Bill have also participated in service trips with other volunteer organizations including helping out in New Orleans, Cedar Rapids, and Nashville after those areas were heavily flooded.

Misha Kokotovic

Misha is hopelessly addicted to the red rock canyons of the Colorado Plateau, where he once worked as a park ranger. Though he has also been known to scramble up the occasional peak in the Sierras and the Southern Rockies, he requires regular fixes of Navajo sandstone. He currently supports his habit by teaching at the University of California, San Diego.

Tom Laabs-Johnson

Tom has been camping since childhood; horse pack trips, canoeing, hiking, biking, but solo backpacking is the favorite. He lives outside of Salt Lake City, working in a psychiatric children’s hospital where his office walls disappear into posters and pictures of Southern Utah.

Jerry Lehman

Jerry has always had a love for the outdoors. He has been a runner, cross country skier, and bicyclist his entire adult life. He rediscovered his love for backpacking, after a 30 year hiatus, by participating in Wilderness Volunteer trips. He has been volunteering since 2003. You can recognize him on a backpacking trip by his 40 year old Kelty frame pack which he refuses to retire. In 2014 he retired from his job as an Accounting Instructor which has allowed him to pursue another old love – bicycle touring. In 2015 he biked 1,200 miles to attend his high school class reunion and this summer he completed a 4,800 mile cross country trip from Seattle to Boston. His retirement has also allowed him to participate in more WV trips and to increase his contributions by becoming a leader. Jerry grew up in the mountains of South-Western Pennsylvania and has lived in Seattle and Colorado. He and his wife now enjoy living in Madison, WI; but he takes every opportunity to spend time in the mountains of the Western and Eastern U.S.

Mark Lewis

Mark’s love for the outdoors started at an early age fishing with his dad. It blossomed in college when he fought fires for the Forest Service as a smoke jumper. He has have traveled and hiked extensively throughout the world with his latest adventure taking him to Afghanistan for a couple of weeks. Mark also enjoys whitewater rafting and had rowed the Colorado River four times in the last five years. Anytime Mark can get outside and give back to the trails that have he feels have given so much to him, he doesn’t pass on the opportunity.

Reed McDowell

Reed lives in Portland, Oregon, enjoying the outdoor opportunities of the Great Northwest. His favorite hiking areas are those along the Columbia Gorge. He and his wife, Beth, are currently attempting to hike every trail in Forest Park, and ride their bikes every chance they get. In addition to hiking and biking, Reed loves camping, canoeing, fly fishing, birding, learning Spanish, exploring the wilderness and helping others do the same.

Dudley McIlhenny

Dudley is originally from Manhattan where he was a management consultant, only at ground level when walking to work. Since relocating to Utah, he has turned to volunteer activities but, more importantly, has discovered the wonders of hiking, rafting, and back country skiing/snowshoeing and is now much more connected to the earth.

Dennis Mckane

Dennis has lived in Southern NJ all of his life. He started doing trips with Wilderness Volunteers in 2008, enjoys all types of trail work, and has been on trips from Maine to Alaska. Dennis also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and 3 months during the winter at YMCA OF THE ROCKIES, SNOW MOUNTAIN RANCH in Granby, Colorado. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, paddling, biking, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Jim McKeon

Jim lives in Eastern Pennsylvania. His early involvement with the Boy Scouts of America enabled him to develop backcountry skills. This was a springboard to developing a lifelong interest in the wilderness experience. He enjoys backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking and trail running, as well as, observing the flora and fauna of the areas he is visiting. He is very interested in herpetology and has spent time in the field observing reptiles and amphibians. Wilderness Volunteers enables him to give back to a cause that promotes utilization and protection of our wild areas.

John McLean

John is an Arizona native, who has been hiking and climbing throughout Arizona and California for over 35 years. He loves to crush rocks and destroy invasive species (but in a good way). John also graciously volunteers his time by serving on the WV Board of Directors.

Ann McNulty

Ann grew up in southern Wisconsin and now lives and works in the Madison area. She became hooked on the outdoors as a young child during trips “up north” with her grandparents in the early ‘60’s where she was introduced to snapping turtles, black bears, ticks and, of course, loons on moonlit lakes. Growing up in a small town provided opportunities to explore creek and river banks, woods and fields as part of normal play and general shenanigans. She began participating in WV trips in 2000 as a volunteer and then as a leader, and has now returned after raising a family. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, kayaking, biking and travel, both wilderness and urban adventures. Ann is an animal and insect lover who goes out of her way to rescue stranded critters.

Don Meaders

Don lives in Albuquerque and is happily retired from his work in the commercial construction industry. Don has worked in North Kaibab for over 20 years and has perfected the technique of “McClouding.” He’s one of the few who can carry a 24-lb rockbar uphill for miles.

Curt Mobley

Cuty is a never-quite-retired oceanographer who has been playing in the outdoors for over 50 years. His adventures have evolved from rock climbing and mountaineering, through mountain biking, to sea kayaking. In recent years he has paddled in exotic locations from Greenland to Antarctica, and from to Greece to Fiji, and many places in between. When on land, he divides his time between red-rock country and the green mountains near his home in Sammamish, Washington.

Gerald “Jerry” Norton

Gerry learned about WV from an ad in the back of Backpacker magazine; he loved the idea of giving back and finding new areas to see and discover. Originally from Upstate New York, he has always had a passion for exploring the outdoors, camping, backpacking, and fishing the Adirondack Mountains. Transplanted to Nevada via the Air Force (now retired), he has learned to love the West and all that it has to offer. He started volunteering for trips in 2014 and co-led his first trip in 2017.

Dave Pacheco

Dave has led WV trips since 1998 and has worked for over 20 years as a grassroots environmental organizer. Dave enjoys meeting new people with interests in volunteering, exploring new wild places, fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing. He proudly gives something back at his day job with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and thoroughly enjoys meeting new people on projects with similar interests.

Amy Qian

Amy Qian found WV in 2017 after searching online for a way to spend time outdoors while volunteering. As a mechanical engineer and avid woodworker, she delights in trips that involve building stuff and sawing through fallen trees.

Chris Roberts

As an elementary school teacher, Chris led his students in dozens of outdoor adventures and on his own time loves hiking, climbing, rafting, and biking with his family and friends. One of his greatest compliments came from one of his students who said, “Mr. Roberts, you’re kind of a nature nut aren’t you.”

Ruth Rosenstein

Ruth is a native New Yorker who enjoys the freedom of backpacking in the wilderness. Always looking for an excuse to travel, she is an avid camper and hiker seeking wildflowers, mountain lakes and grand vistas. In her sparetime, she is a triathlete and a Boy Scout leader.

Rick Russman

Rick has hiked, biked or kayaked in every area of the United States and when not playing in the White Mountains of NH, leads trips in the southwest and Rocky Mountains. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

Ruth Sarvis

Ruth works as an insurance agent weekdays and spends weekends exploring Western Washington with her family. She is an avid hiker in the Cascades and is encouraging her daughter and nieces to explore the outdoors year round.

Patricia Schaffarczyk

Patricia retired from working for Fremont Unified School District. She loves to hike around the Bay area where she lives, and backpacks in the Sierras. For a number of years she has participated in Wilderness Volunteer trips in Hawaii, Oregon, and Arizona, to join others in giving back.

Taryn Schreiner

Taryn is a Washington native currently living in Flagstaff, Arizona. She loves trail running, skiing, rock climbing, rolling down hills, backpacking, rafting, getting mud on her face, and essentially anything that will enable her to get into a wild place surrounded by inspiring friends. Taryn grew passionate about conservation work while in college, finding that protection of public lands is one of the most valuable and rewarding things one can do in life. (Not to mention the fact that it allows us to play in the most spectacular places!)

Zig Sondelski

Zig grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and so got to spend plenty of time outdoors. Once on his own, he moved west and discovered that the outdoors could be even more fun than the farm was. His primary activities are backpacking, bicycling and rafting in the warmer months and snowshoeing in the winter. Zig got to retire early and can now better balance his play vs. work time with an occasional consulting project. He makes Utah his home, which, for him, offers the best of a lot of things and not much of the other.

Chris Stearns

A veterinarian for over 30 years, Chris has a love for the outdoors and nature that dates back to early childhood. He has made self-supported rafting trips on several different rivers in Alaska and enjoys hiking and camping in the West. His professional background and interests have facilitated participation in cheetah habitat research in Namibia, dog vaccine and spay clinics in Botswana, and herd health clinics with UT veterinary students in Nicaragua. He truly enjoys the different environments found throughout the West and meeting new friends through Wilderness Volunteers activities. He lives in Dalton, Georgia with his amazing wife, Kathryn West and pets Chester and Lily.

Jennifer Sublett

Jennifer lives in the beautiful state of New Mexico and gets to play outside for work and for fun! She loves desert, mountains and everything in between, plus a New Mexican-style breakfast burrito every now and then. Her real reason for hiking, backpacking and doing trail work, though, is to get in shape for cross country ski season, or anything else that involes snow.

Laura Sutherlin

Laura is a newer Wilderness Volunteers leader but is not new to loving the outdoors. She has enjoyed hiking, biking, backpacking, canoeing, skiing, and just about anything outdoors since her childhood. Laura grew up in Kansas but now lives in the Colorado front range. When not outside playing she works as a physical therapist.

Aidalicia Swertfeger

Aidalicia is vying for that “life less ordinary” as she attempts to merge her zest for the outdoors with her technical education in communication design. Growing up in the foothills of the Sierras, Aidalicia lived for winters snowboarding in Tahoe, something she misses greatly. After moving to Austin, Texas to complete her degree, she realized she needs texture and pitch in her horizon. The current Program Manager for Wilderness Volunteers, Aidalicia is also a runner, an IPA girl, an avid solo traveler, a thru-hiker and a practitioner of minimalism.

David Taylor

David lives and grew up in the Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho area. He takes advantage of the abundance of hiking and biking opportunities in the North Idaho area and the easy access to camp and hike in the National Parks of the Northwest and Northern Rockies with a special affection for Glacier National Park.

Cheryl Walczak

Cheryl, originally from Chicago, has been interested in the beauty and history of the West since family vacations as a child. Now based in Utah, she has been associated with Wilderness Volunteers since 1999, enjoying trips in Utah, Texas, and Oregon. She’ll explore just about anywhere her two feet will take her.

John Washo

John has been involved with Wilderness Volunteers since 2010. He is the Associate Director of Campus Recreation Programs at DePaul University and leads Alternative Spring Break Wilderness Volunteer trips. John referees intramural basketball, backpacks, hikes and climbs in his spare time.

Caroline Williams

Red rocks, mountains, wilderness, hiking, biking, skiing, camping, running, unplugging, staring at the night sky in search of aliens (or shooting stars), traveling the world, cruising in my Westy, having fun and generally enjoying life … these are a few of my favorite things. I glimpsed a WV ad in the back of Backpacker Magazine in 2008 and was hooked on giving back with WV every year since. I’m counting the days until retirement (still too many years away) when I can kick back, relax and volunteer more than just one week a year. When I’m not on the road, I’m living in Colorado Springs with my husband and cat.

Bill Wood

Bill is a Wyoming native who grew up camping in and exploring the Rockies. Later, Bill, his wife, two children, and (later still) two granddaughters continued their outdoor adventures—trail running, mountain biking, backpacking, motorcycling and camping. Bill recently retired from a career in aerospace and is enjoying the opportunity to give back to Mother Nature, including his participation with WV.

Jeff Wright

A native of the hinterlands of Missouri whose wanderlust has taken him to all 50 states, but prefers those which constitute the four corners of the American Southwest. Former Peace Corps volunteer, frustrated triathlete, and amateur naturalist who owns far too many field guides. Believes proper stewardship of Spaceship Earth far outweighs in importance any other issue currently on the political agenda.

Kathleen Worley

Kathleen grew up in Reno, Nevada, which perhaps explains her love of the high desert as well as the granite spires and crystal clear lakes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. She has done WV trips in Nevada, Utah, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. When not outdoors, she is either onstage or teaching theatre at Reed College in Portland, OR.

Mark Young

A native New Yorker, Mark takes every chance he can get to hike and backpack in the Northeast, mostly in the Catskills, Adirondacks and White Mountains. He particularly enjoys rugged ascents and rock scrambles. His favorite trips of all time include those to the Sierras, Cascades, Grand Canyon, Zion, Galapagos and Escalante. Other interests include skiing, snowboarding, surfing and baseball. When not engaged in outdoor adventure, he manages the finances of the Long Island Rail Road.

Tony Zimmer

Tony has lived his entire life in Illinois and Ohio before moving to Salt Lake City in 2006. Since then Tony has been able to develop his love of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, skiing, boating and backpacking. Tony leads projects with Wilderness Volunteers because it gives him the opportunity to see places that he had never heard of, to meet great people who enjoying working and playing outdoors and to give back to the natural world that makes it all possible.

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Wilderness Volunteers is cultivating a passion for Wilderness! We are a national nonprofit organizing volunteers for stewardship projects in cooperation with public land agencies across the USA.