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Heroes and Legends of the Field: Chris Moeller

Episode 0



Chris Moeller

Chris Moeller

Learning and Development Director

Chris was drawn to wilderness therapy by the opportunity to live and work in the wilderness with students. Throughout his life, he has come to discover that he deeply values connecting with people. He considers it such a gift to be able to get to know who people really are and what they really value.

Committed to continuous learning and expanding his own horizons, Chris obtained a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Hiram College, completed a graduate program in marine biology at Northeastern University, earned a Master of Science in biology from the University of Alabama, and a Master of Social Work from Western New Mexico University.

Before joining Open Sky in 2007, Chris worked for two other wilderness therapy programs. He transitioned to Open Sky because of its holistic approach to living in the wilderness. He was excited that food was considered to be medicine and that there was a focus on mindfulness practices to better get to know oneself. He also valued that the founders had been guides prior to starting Open Sky.

Chris appreciates the humanistic, whole-person approach. In 2017, with more than 1,500 field days as a Field Guide with Open Sky, Chris transitioned to Program Mentor. In this role, he utilizes his gifts, knowledge, and experience to support other guides in their work and to strengthen the Field team to be able to provide the best care possible for students. In his role as Assistant Therapist, Chris’s experience in the field and his clinical skills help students make profound and lasting change.

Chris loves the ability to be creative in the wilderness. As a Clinical Therapist for young adults, he focuses on using his wisdom and clinical expertise to empower others to grow by developing healthy behaviors and living in line with one’s values. He connects through his heart and has faith in this process because he has seen it work over and over again with students, guides, and himself. By learning to feel and connect in wilderness therapy, he can provide stability for guides, students, and families in challenging moments. Chris’ best friend and companion, Pippin, has been a source of comfort, motivation, and joy for his client. Pippin retired in autumn 2021, after working 1,600 days as a therapy dog.

During his time off, Chris spends a lot of time with friends and focuses on personal growth.



Emily Fernandes

Emily Fernandes

Executive Director & Co-Founder

On a wilderness trip in Alaska with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in 1995, Emily discovered she could combine two of her passions: working with youth and being outdoors. Since then, she has worked for Aspen Achievement Academy, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, and Connecticut Wilderness School. She was part of the founding team at Open Sky.

Emily worked as the lead therapist for adolescent girls for her first 5 years at Open Sky. Her areas of clinical expertise include depression, anxiety, grief and loss, trauma, self-harm, disordered eating, and adoption and attachment issues. Her clinical approach is informed by cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, family systems, and attachment theories. Relationship building through letter writing is a major focus of her work with students and families.

As a founder and owner of Open Sky, as well as the Clinical and Executive Director, Emily brings a breadth of knowledge with her background as a therapist, field guide, trainer, logistics coordinator, emergency responder, and field director, Emily is known for her direct, caring leadership style, her ability to inspire excellence in others, and her team oriented approach. The student treatment plan is her compass for her decision-making regarding Open Sky’s students, families, and employees.

Emily loves reading, writing, yoga, mountain biking, telemark skiing, rock climbing, spending time with friends and family, and cooking with foods from the local farmers’ market.


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