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Archives: Team


Zofia Lemise

Zofia was born and raised in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where she spent a great deal of her youth exploring the creeks and lush deciduous forests, often in her own backyard. Every summer from first grade through sophomore year of college, she attended her local nature camp, first as a camper and eventually as a […]

Sean Liston

Prior to guiding at Open Sky, Sean worked at another wilderness therapy program and earn an award recognizing him as an outstanding field guide.  Sean was drawn to Open Sky by the adventure and challenge of guiding. He wants to provide support to students who struggle, something he wishes he had had in his youth. […]

Lesley Hudson

While working at a residential treatment center for adolescent girls in Arizona in 2011, Lesley realized her real passion was to support people in their healing in an outdoor setting. She left her job at the treatment center to pursue work in wilderness therapy, choosing Open Sky as her ideal company because of its commitment […]

Anthony Hoffman

Anthony earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington before attending University of Washington Tacoma for his master’s degree in community planning. As a wilderness therapy graduate himself, Anthony is able to relate his own experiences to the challenges and rewards Open Sky students commonly experience. […]

Luke Farris

Luke is currently studying adventure education at Fort Lewis College, taking a Wilderness First Responder course, and guiding and wilderness leadership courses. He has deep a passion for the outdoor industry and introducing people to the wilderness. Luke thinks wilderness therapy is one of the most powerful ways to introduce people to the beauty of […]

Taylor Basiger

Taylor’s fascination with the brain and human behavior began in high school when she took AP psychology. Her interest in neuropsychology led her to study psychology, biology, and chemistry at Florida State University. There, she worked in a psychology laboratory researching visual search and attention. She is specifically interested in analyzing neurochemical mechanisms and resulting […]

Sam Shealy

Sam received a Bachelor of Science at Northwestern University. Before Open Sky, he worked as an Americorps member at Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango and taught garden education and healthy living to children and adults living with trauma. Sam was drawn to Open Sky for the opportunity to learn about himself, develop leadership skills, and […]

Brenden Roos

Brenden joined the United States Navy after high school and stayed on active duty for 10 years. While in the Navy, he was deployed to Afghanistan. Brenden’s military training gives him a wide range of skills that transfer to the field.  Brenden was drawn to Open Sky because of his positive experience working with children […]

Jamie Wise

 Jamie has studied psychology and sociology at Central Oregon Community College and has worked as a caregiver and with children at an elementary school. Jamie attended Open Sky in 2016 and it changed her life. Healing and the wilderness, gaining skills to survive in the backcountry, and developing lifelong coping skills drew her back to […]

Lali Preslar

Before joining Open Sky, Lali was a field guide for a program based in Utah and was a dance instructor for a residential treatment center in Portland, Oregon. Lali is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Medicine and Rescue Semester. Lali feels most capable and alive in the wilderness, leading her to […]

Gabe Deall

Gabe finds wilderness therapy to be a field through which he can grow both personally and professionally on his path to becoming an educator. As a field guide, he values having the chance to share the healing powers of nature with students. He is someone who students can trust and confide in, and also someone […]

Anthony Escajeda

Anthony discovered backpacking as an adult and has since fallen in love with the healing power of the wilderness. He has spent a considerable amount of time studying the plants and wildlife of the desert. Anthony was drawn to field guiding because he believes that wilderness opens up space for personal growth. He sees how […]

Isaiah Vander Kooy

Isaiah graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in sociology. Living in Arizona Isaiah has had many opportunities to explore the outdoors, from snowboarding in Flagstaff, hiking and creek days in Sedona, exploring the Grand Canyon, and backpacking in Rim Country. Looking to explore further, Isaiah has guided motorcycle tours across Colombia and explored […]

Joe Goulet

Joe attended culinary school in Glen Elyn, Illinois. He spent almost twenty years working in large hotels and country clubs throughout the Chicago area. In 2014 he moved to the Four Corners to work as the chef de cuisine at Mesa Verde National Park. Joe has recently returned to school. His love for the outdoors […]

Rowan Grant

Rowan attended Portland State University where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in sociology. The study of social problems, social groups, culture, societal developments, structure, and functions have always fascinated her. While enrolled at Portland State, Rowan immersed herself in the sociology world by being an active participate in PSU’s sociology club […]

Julie Moreno

Julie attended Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. While there, she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis in ceramics and photography. She participated in the study abroad program at MSU and spent a summer in London, England. She graduated cum laude.  After graduating Julie and her husband moved to Longview, […]

Kip Swem

Kip’s journey towards serving others started while volunteering in Honduras. During this time, Kip found the value of mentorship and how fulfilling it was to be empowered and empower others. This realization and a personal history of finding healing in nature led him to wilderness therapy.  Kip started working in wilderness therapy in 2016. He […]

Jason Gottfredson

With over three and a half years of experience in the wilderness therapy industry, Jason possesses a deep insight into the factors that contribute to the growing mental health issues among young people, including but not limited to disrupted sleep patterns, the impact of technology, unhealthy influences, and a lack of sufficient attachment and socialization. […]

Natalie Vaughan

Natalie brings a wealth of experience and a deep passion for adolescent psychology and outdoor education to her role as a field guide at Open Sky. With a background in inpatient psychiatric care for children and adolescents in Boston and leadership in organizing and leading outdoor excursions, Natalie’s journey to Open Sky was driven by […]

Saydee Banks

Drawn to Open Sky by the program’s integrity and the inspiration she found in the dedicated team during her orientation and training, Saydee firmly believes in the transformative power of the wilderness. She values the unique aspect of Open Sky, which fosters interdependence within the student and guide community, where support is constant.  Saydee’s dedication […]

Bee Pollicino

Bee’s profound affection for the natural world blossomed during her several seasons of work in various national parks. Her travels took her to Latin America, where she immersed herself in yoga and meditation education. After teaching yoga globally for several years, Bee embarked on a pilgrimage across northern Spain, where a trail angel told her […]

Carter Hemstock

Carter earned his M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Wisconsin Stout. With a diverse background, he has primarily worked with youth in various settings. His recent experience at an alternative school, operating within a behavioral health model, showcased his commitment to the well-being of young individuals. Furthermore, his role as a […]

Nat Harris

Nat brings nine years of childcare experience and a strong background in mindfulness-based stress reduction to her role at Open Sky. She is certified to teach mindfulness to K-12 students, and her passion for guiding young individuals is evident in her work.  Nat was drawn to Open Sky by its holistic and person-centered approach, which […]

Maya Huffman

Maya was attracted to wilderness therapy because she wanted to pursue a career in social work or therapy and trusts in the healing of slowing down in the wilderness. Maya believes confidence, resilience, and regulation can be found when we learn to take care of ourselves and live with the cycles of nature. She also […]

Claire Ninde

Claire came to Open Sky with a wide range of life, work, and educational experiences. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in international studies from Claremont Graduate University. Claire was drawn to Open Sky because of her belief in the power of wilderness to bring […]

Talesa Flenniken

Talesa Flenniken (she/her), a dedicated professional with a passion for cultivating strong relationships, brings her expertise to Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and 12 years of valuable experience in human resources, Talesa is adept at fostering respectful work environments and navigating the complexities of organizational dynamics. Rooted in […]

Brooke Teufel

Brooke was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, situated in the magical Sonoran Desert. Though often within city limits, much of Brooke’s childhood was spent playing outside, basking in an abundance of sunshine. Her formative years were filled with the sounds of Gambel’s quail and Gila woodpeckers, the scent of creosote after a monsoon storm, […]

Kalen Deremo

Born and raised in Durango and its surrounding areas, Kalen has called Colorado and the American Southwest home for over three decades. Having graduated high school in his hometown, he yearned for a change of pace and enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism in 2013. […]

Jen Horinek

Jen has been an integral part of the Open Sky HR team since 2022, with a strong commitment to fostering employee success and growth. Her interest in creating a supportive work environment was sparked during her time as an administrative assistant at a wilderness therapy program in Oregon. Witnessing the positive impact of wilderness therapy on […]

Jackson Van Raan

Before joining Open Sky as a field guide, Jackson spent time field guiding for a wilderness therapy program in Utah, teaching yoga, and mentoring youth. Jackson became interested in field guiding because he understood the power of therapeutically assisting others by spending time in nature himself. He was drawn to Open Sky because of the […]

Jasmine Harris

Jasmine’s background includes a bachelor’s degree in psychology and time spent with youth and teens as a Little League and high school softball coach. She has also worked in a trauma recovery center. Jasmine decided to pursue being a field guide with Open Sky because she appreciates a job that feeds her soul and is […]

Monica Fryska

Monica studied biology and Germanic studies at Indiana University and has also received an MS in secondary education. She taught science for 10 years in public schools and worked at a faith-based summer camp. Monica has through hiked the Appalachian Trail! Monica was drawn to Open Sky because of the program’s holistic approach to treatment. […]

Brittney Seeliger

Brittney has experience working with students and adults, promoting health and well being through connection with nature. Her excitement for hiking in the diverse California backcountry is contagious and by preparing and preventing injuries in wilderness, those she hikes with feel safe while exploring the mountains and lakes found in the Pacific Northwest. As a […]

Lexi Ashton

Lexi’s passion for medicine began with her grandmother. An enrolled tribal member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Ojibwa / Chippewa), Lexi learned the power of fusing western medicine with native herbal treatments from a young age, as her grandmother battled heart disease. She carried these experiences to college, where she earned a degree in […]

B.C. Wells

B.C.’s educational path has been far from traditional. A Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course opened his eyes to the opportunities available in the outdoor industry and led him to pursue an education from Colorado Mountain College where he received an associate’s degree in outdoor education. Since then, he has continued his education with the college […]

Joe Peloquin

Joe has a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from Syracuse University. His related experience includes around 10 years organizing group wilderness expeditions in France and the Indian Himalayas. He has extensive volunteer experience in humanitarian projects, retreat centers, and farm and ecological projects in France, England, India, Israel, Palestine, and most recently, New England […]

Kelsey Smith

Kelsey’s prior experience includes time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, leading agroforestry projects and providing nutritional education to young mothers. In this work, Kelsey gained valuable leadership skills, grit, and resilience. Kelsey has also provided horseback riding instruction for youth and young adults. Kelsey joined the Open Sky team as a field guide […]

Paige Elliott

Paige was born and raised in Durango, Colorado and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013 with a degree in English, specializing in creative nonfiction. She has always loved stories and believes in their power to help us better understand and connect with ourselves and each other. Also passionate about the outdoors, mental health, and experiential […]

Lori Armbruster

Lori has dedicated her 30-year career to supporting families in crisis with kindness, compassion, and respect. Having held senior leadership positions in several highly regarded residential and therapeutic wilderness programs, she possesses a deep understanding of the client experience and the essential components needed to facilitate meaningful change. Lori enjoys developing communication strategies that align […]

Kay Salwen

Kay Salwen received a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology from Tufts university in 2012. Kay started their career in wilderness therapy immediately after graduation in upstate New York before accepting a job as a field guide at Open Sky the following year. Open Sky has been a place where Kay has felt empowered to teach others […]

Austin Pack

Austin received his culinary arts degrees from Johnson & Wales University in 2011 and has a strong background in the restaurant industry. Before receiving his culinary degree, he worked at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico as a guide and cook. This is where backpacking became an important part of his life, as Austin […]

Shane Ward

The path that led to Shane working in wilderness therapy is a long and winding road. In the wise words of one of Shane’s favorite writers, Ed Abbey, “may your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” Shane was born and raised in the sleepy beach town of Los Angeles, […]

Madison Scarborough

Madison Scarborough attended Baylor University, where she majored in communications. Madison is currently working on her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Wake Forest University. Madison has had various experiences that have led to her passion for the type of work that Open Sky does. From 2018-2020 she volunteered at the Waco Center […]

Niveditha “Neetu” Raju

Neetu created a self-designed major in Environmental Studies at Sterling College in Vermont, where she combined Outdoor Education with Embodiment Studies. She comes to Open Sky with experience facilitating embodied inner work aligned with deep spiritual practice and activism. She worked for a year as a Field Guide at Open Sky, and so has experience […]

Danya Matulis

Before joining the Open Sky team, Danya attended Northern Arizona University where she received an honors degree in fitness wellness. During and after college, she was extremely involved in the outdoor adventures program as a lead trip guide, office manager, and high ropes course facilitator, while also teaching yoga for multiple programs and studios. She […]

Carly Miller

Carly Miller has experienced firsthand the healing powers that nature possesses.  She discovered her passion for the outdoors in the summer of 2018, during her first backpacking trip in the wild Alaskan wilderness. With only the food and supplies on her back, and good friends by her side, Carly started her adventure of self- discovery. […]

Julia Conley

With a degree in mathematics and sociology from Bowdoin College, and years of falling in love with the Maine woods and waters, Julia sought opportunities to make classrooms ‘spaces of adventure.’ After graduating, she taught in a cognitive disabilities classroom in Montana, was an English teacher in rural Nepal, and a physics lab instructor in […]

Henry Hammond

Henry has had a lifelong infatuation with nature. He was drawn to Open Sky for the opportunity to combine his personal passion for the outdoors with his professional passion for helping struggling youth. Open Sky’s family systems approach especially stood out to him.   Henry understands why people often describe field guiding as both challenging […]

Hunter Bischoff

Hunter’s experience in the outdoors includes spending summers working in conservation and wildlife biology. He has also spent time in the Maine woods hiking and climbing in Acadia National Park. The time Hunter spent in wildlife conservation led him to wilderness therapy and his desire to care for others in a natural setting. Open Sky’s […]

Erin Moriarty

Before joining Open Sky as a field guide, Erin graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in sustainable development and a concentration in environmental studies. While in college, she explored the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking, camping, and finding river spots. In the summers off from college, she worked as a beach lifeguard with emergency […]