Aerie instructors are a diverse group, sharing at least three qualities essential for a wilderness medicine instructor. All Aerie instructors are:
- Skilled, enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructors (we are going to count that as one quality!)
- Experienced in a wide variety of outdoor interests and professions
- Involved in health care, almost all professionally, almost all with a minimum of EMT certification
We work closely with our medical director, Greg Moore, MD, and our Board of Advisors to ensure that our curriculum is current and our teaching techniques appropriate. Read through their biographies. Contact them individually or through our office with questions.
In reality, the above qualities form only a baseline standard for employment at Aerie. What you will find truly unique about our staff is their commitment to service. They arrive at class eager to provide the training you need, to answer your individual questions, and to be a resource for you after the course ends. Many Aerie graduates have changed their careers or specialities after taking our courses. Why? In most cases, they tell us it is because of their instructors' inspiration. Most of our staff are Aerie graduates who found something in their instructor that inspired them to work with us. While we don't expect that every graduate will become an Aerie employee, we do expect that their course will have an impact far beyond the topic of wilderness first aid.
Kip Beckwith, Instructor
BS, Resource Conservation - University of Montana; Paramedic; Technical SAR Technician I; Wildland Firefighter Type II; Helicopter Crew Member; ACLS, PALS, PHTLS, FP-C
I took my WFR course in 2008 and loved it. I worked nine seasons for the National Park Service, doing a variety of backcountry ranger, climbing ranger, emergency medical services, and search and rescue jobs. I have worked as an assistant instructor for a community college EMS program and as a ski patroller. I completed my Wilderness EMT through Aerie in 2011, Parkmedic / Advanced EMT in 2013, and Paramedic in 2016. I enjoy providing medical care in urban, rural, and wilderness settings. In addition to teaching for Aerie, I have worked for EMS services as a paramedic in Colorado and Montana.
Allison Bernhisel, Equipment Manager; Assistant Instructor
BS, Wildlife Biology – University of Montana; W-EMT; Rope Rescue Technician
One of the first things I did after moving to Missoula to study wildlife at UM was sign up for Aerie’s W-EMT course. Not only was the course rewarding, the certification helped make me more competitive for wildlife technician jobs that have taken me all across the Rocky Mountains. Additionally, the course introduced me to Missoula County Search and Rescue and I have spent the last seven years volunteering with them. I currently work as Aerie's equipment manager, planning and preparing course materials for all of our courses, events, and safety standbys.
Ryan Berube, Instructor
WEMT, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Level 1 Avalanche
A current member of the US Coast Guard, I'm proud to call Montana home and look forward to further delving into the medical community. Growing up exploring the White Mountains of New Hampshire and beyond, the West has become my gateway to further adventures and practice of my favorite hobbies, including rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, and fishing.
Gaytri Bhatia, Instructor
BA, Environmental Studies - Mount Holyoke College; WFR
Originally from Bombay, India, I grew up without much separation from the outdoors - swimming oceans, running along hills, loitering in forests. I worked for 7 years in Boston as an environmental consultant to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Following this, I returned to India, splitting her time between agriculture (producing fruits and herbs) and backpacking (working as an Instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School).
Joe Blattner, Instructor, Management Director
MA, Emergency Management and Homeland Security - Arizona State University; BA - University of Montana; EMT, W-EMT; Lead Instructor & Advanced EMT (Montana); Level I Avalanche; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Rope Rescue Technician I/II
I began working with Aerie in 2006 and have taught and lectured at all levels of Aerie's courses. In addition to teaching, I manage Aerie's day-to-day operations. I am a long-time member of Missoula County Search and Rescue and am currently the acting chief. I have taught for the University of Montana since 2010, primarily teaching pre-hospital medicine and leadership classes. At St. Patrick Hospital, I work as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator where I plan for and respond to incidents and disasters.
Samantha Boucher, Instructor
I moved to Maine to attend the University of Maine, Augusta for my Nursing Degree. While in Maine I fell in love with the ocean and first began exploring nutrition and herbalism as alternatives and complements to western medicine. Currently I am working in Home Health as a nurse.
BS, Health Sciences - Trident University; W-EMT; NREMT-Paramedic; TCCC; Swiftwater Rescue Tech 1; Recreation Avalanche Level 1
I served as an infantryman for four years in the Marine Corps and have been a USAF Pararescueman (PJ) since 2006. This job has taken me all over the world on many adventures, and given me the opportunity to treat many critically injured patients. I recertified my Paramedic license through Aerie and always appreciated their professionalism, work ethic and knowledge base. I began teaching with Aerie in 2018 and try to teach courses in between a hectic work schedule, pursuing my M.Ed. through NAU, and spending time with my wife and two kids.
Leah Cantor, Instructor
MA, Elementary Education - Queens College; BS, Education - Florida State University; EMT; LNT Master Educator; NAI Certified Interpretive Guide
After receiving my degrees in Education, I participated as an AmeriCorps member, teaching at Northwest Youth Corps Outdoor School in OR. I also worked at an Outdoor Education Center in the Adirondacks of NY. Through work with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), I helped plan trainings with Aerie to ensure my members felt prepared to go into the field. I spent almost nine years going through Aerie trainings myself, which only amplified my desire to teach others the importance of wilderness medicine. When I had the opportunity to start teaching for Aerie in February of 2018, I was excited to join this staff.
BSN - Montana State University; RN, AEMT, W-EMT, BASM; Rope Rescue Technician I/II; Swiftwater Rescue Technician
I am originally from France, where I served in an alpine military unit. I have called Montana home for several years, and currently work at St Patrick’s Hospital, where I am an RN in the Intensive Care Unit. In addition to teaching with Aerie, I work as a ski patroller and am a member of Missoula County Search and Rescue. I am happy to contribute to Aerie’s mission, and grateful for the opportunities to keep learning.
Jay Corti, Instructor
Born and raised in Montana, I grew up skiing, biking and hunting. After 10 years of competitive mogul skiing, I now coach athletes year round. I attended Montana State University to finish a Bachelors in Exercise Science with plans to go to Paramedic School after graduation. Aerie provides me a great opportunity to travel and teach in the great outdoors.
Eagle Cruz, Instructor
EMT, W-EMT; Level 2 Avalanche; OEC, practitioner of the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, Upledger Institute of Osteopathy
I am a graduate of Aerie’s W-EMT class in 1999. I was a volunteer on the Frenchtown Rural Fire District Ambulance Service for ten years and am the assistant director of Snowbowl’s Pro Patrol. Between ski patrol and ambulance service I have been active in the EMS system for 12 years. I’ve studied martial arts for 30 years and teach kids and adults karate at Viking Martial Arts in Frenchtown. I never imagined myself actually teaching emergency medicine, but the more I teach, the more I realize how much I enjoy sharing what I really love to do.
Danielle Donovan, Instructor
W-EMT, A-EMT, R.N., Level II Avalanche
In 2006 I completed my WFR with Aerie, which unexpectedly ignited my interest for emergency medicine. This ultimately led me to complete my W-EMT with Aerie in 2008. Since then, I have gained valuable working experience as a Professional Ski Patroller at Grand Targhee Resort and spent 5 seasons working on a wilderness trail crew on the Bitterroot National Forest. I currently work as an Emergency Department RN at a rural hospital in Big Sky, Montana. I have been working with Aerie since the fall of 2012. I take great pride in working for the organization that helped instill in me a passion for emergency medicine, and hope that I can do the same for my future students.
Beverly Dupree, Instructor
M.S., B.A., W-EMT, Wildland Firefighter II, Avalanche Level 1, RYT-200
Originally from North Carolina, I took a WFR class in 1996 (loved it!) and moved to Montana to work as a backcountry instructor for an adjudicated youth wilderness therapy program. Following a 30-year career in outdoor education and wildland conservation across the western U.S. and in Costa Rica, I became certified as an EMT in 2018 and began instructing wilderness medicine courses with Aerie soon thereafter. When I'm not teaching with Aerie, I supervise the mobile testing unit at the Missoula City/County Health Department. I also teach yoga, write copy for a jewelry designer, and DJ at the local college radio station.
Ryan Dwosh, Instructor
BS, Civil Engineering - University of Vermont; EMT; Swift Water Rescue Technician; OEC; ACA level IV whitewater kayak instructor
I found my passion for the outdoors while leading whitewater kayak and canoe trips in the Northeast. After working as a Water Resource Engineer in Vermont, I left the confines of cubical life to pursue a WEMT and chase snow in Washington and Wyoming. I got my first taste of wilderness medicine while working as a ski patroller at Snow King Mountain in Jackson, WY. After being inspired by working in EMS, I continued to explore a career in medicine as an ER Technician. Currently, I am a medical student at The University of New England.
Hannah Fanney, Instructor
BA, Sociology and Social Justice - Northland College; W-EMT; Avalanche Level 2
In 2013, I left the south shores of Lake Superior with a degree in Sociology and Outdoor Education and settled in Montana shortly after. In the summer months, if not in a classroom environment you may find me on a river or sea kayaking the Pacific Ocean. When the frost arrives, I work as a the Assistant Medical Supervisor with Big Sky Ski Patrol.
Dave Farmer, Wildland Fire Instructor
BS, Recreation Management - University of Montana. EMT; Rope Rescue Technician; Avalanche 1; Engine Boss.
My first medical experience came through an Aerie WFR course which lead to a ski patrol job at Montana Snowbowl. My fire career began at the Forest Service's Ninemile Ranger Station in 2005 and continued with the Lolo Hotshots and Missoula Ranger District until 2014. In 2013, I became an EMT and began working for the Missoula Fire Department in 2015. I have been afforded the opportunity to learn from, and teach with, many seasoned firefighters over the years.
Richard Gauron, Instructor
W-EMT, A-EMT; Master Scuba Diver, Avalanche 2 ,Technical Rope Rescue 1 and 2, Cliff Rescue, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, OEC, .
Originally from Boston, I moved to Bozeman to attend MSU in 2006. I became involved with Search and Rescue and my passion for wilderness medicine took off. I became more involved with the various SAR teams such as the Dive team, which I am a rescue diver on. I took my Wilderness EMT through Aerie and became a pro ski patroller, which is still my winter job. During the summer I had worked as a alpine guide in Alaska where I also responded to medical calls within Wrangle Saint Elias National Park. I am now back in school taking Pre-Med courses with the hopes of returning to Medical School.
Darren Gruetze, Instructor
BS, History/Sociology- University of Pittsburgh; MAT, Secondary Social Science - Chatham University; WFR; LNT Master Educator; Mental Health First Aid Instructor; Community of Radical Engagement Facilitator
I have worked in the outdoor industry since 2006 doing trail work, wilderness therapy, leadership consulting, remote cooking, and running a variety of programs for The Student Conservation Association. My first class with Aerie was in 2007 and I have attended trainings every year since. In 2018, I joined Aerie's teaching staff. Teaching courses pairs my love of the more-than-human world with my desire to inspire others to feel confident and capable in outdoor settings.
Trenton Harper, Instructor
W-EMT; Critical Care Paramedic; AWLS; TCCC; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Avalanche Level 1
I practiced and taught wilderness survival skills as an outdoor educator for 5 years before moving to Montana in 2001. Since then I have worked as a paramedic-ranger for the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park, volunteered with Missoula Search and Rescue, and have provided medical relief in Haiti and along the US/Mexico border. I have been privileged to travel and practice my medical and survival skills in Central America, India, and most recently Mongolia. I am a full time paramedic for Missoula Emergency Services where I have served as a tactical paramedic and Backcountry Response Team member. I teach all level of courses for Aerie including our WEMT and Semester in Wilderness Medicine programs.
Cody Harris, Instructor
EMT, Rescue III International Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
Having spent the better portion of my life exploring the rivers of North and South America, I am a past member of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Development Team. I have been a kayak slalom coach and an American Canoe Association whitewater instructor since 1994. I co-founded the Whitewater Rescue Institute and teach both Swiftwater Rescue technician as well as Rope Rescue technician courses for Aerie.
Amelia Jaffe, Instructor
BS, Spanish and Psychology - UW- Madison; MS, Nursing - Rush University; RN; TNCC
I am an emergency room RN by trade, but believe knowing how to heal people without the luxury of resources is the most inspiring form of medicine I have learned. I feel very fortunate to help spread this knowledge as an incredible way to empower people to spend more time outdoors. Outside of medicine, I spend a great deal of time exploring the outdoors, crafting things from wood and various salvaged materials, fixing and riding bicycles, and searching for my next opportunity to return to Central America.
Mike Johnston, Adjunct Instructor
EMT; Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
I have been teaching River Rescue since 1995 and am a former ski patroller & backcountry ranger in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. In 1994 I founded Montana River Guides, a whitewater rafting company that guides raft, canoe, kayak and riverboard trips on the Alberton Gorge, Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers. I teach the swiftwater rescue component of Aerie's Wilderness EMT and Semester programs.
Holly Kassner, Office and Course Manager
BA, Psychology - University of Phoenix; AS, Business Management - University of Phoenix; Thetahealing Practitioner, Reiki Master, EFT/TFT Practitioner, Life Coach, PLR Therapist, Hypnotherapist, WRAP Facilitator
I was born and raised in Montana. My childhood was spent in Thompson Falls; after graduation I lived in Havre, Missoula, and Kalispell. My husband and our 6 children recently moved back to Missoula, the place I feel HOME. I have degrees in Psychology and Business and I also run my own business that utilizes a variety of energy- and meditation-type healing. I have always been passionate about the outdoors: hiking, fishing, camping and exploring this beautiful state that I love. This is one reason why I knew Aerie was a great fit for me.
Chad Kidd, Wildland Fire Instructor
AA, Fire Science - Casper Community College; BA, Business - Montana State University; EMT
Growing up, I worked as a ranch hand outside Ennis, Montana during the summers and spent countless hours in the mountains chasing cows and fixing fence. After high school, I pursued a degree in fire science and since then, my passion has always been firefighting. I am currently a captain with Missoula Fire Department and have feverishly pursued the wildland fire arena, working all over the country on wildland fires. I have also helped develop MFD’s technical rescue program. Teaching has been a very rewarding experience and has helped shape me as an emergency provider.
MD, FACEP, FAWM
I trained in Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. I worked overseas in Honduras and in Kosovo on disaster relief missions and am a veteran of the National Disaster Medical Service. I now work as an Emergency Physician at Saint Patrick Hospital (Level II Trauma) and am a reserve Deputy for Missoula County Sheriff Department. I am also a member of and Medical Director for Missoula County Search and Rescue, and Missoula County Sheriff Department's Special Response Team and serve as the Medical Director for Missoula Emergency Services and Missoula City Fire Department. I recently helped author the curriculum for S.T.O.R.M. (Specialized Tactics for Operational Rescue and Medicine) and will be teaching this through the Medical College of Georgia.
Nick Lois, Instructor
PA-S, ACLS, W-EMT, Level 1 Avalanche
I worked in the emergency room in Bozeman, ski patrolled at Big Sky Resort, and helped teach people with disabilities how to ski through the Eagle Mount Adaptive Ski Program. In the summertime, I worked down in South America for an adventure tourism company. I have since recently moved to California where I go to PA school at Stanford University and humiliate myself on a regular basis improving my surfing.
Kelli Lutz, Instructor; Instructor Logisitics Manager
EMT, W-EMT; Avalanche Level-1; Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer; Outdoor Leadership, Central Oregon Community College; Parks & Tourism, University of Montana
I began my wilderness career after taking a first aid class my freshman year in college. My love of the outdoors, medicine, and working with others led me to expand my training and receive my EMT and Wilderness EMT through the National Outdoor Leadership School. Since then I have guided Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, backpacking, and most recently guiding Ice Cave Glacier tours and canoe trips in Juneau, Alaska. I enjoy the improvisation and creativity needed in wilderness medicine and it has been an honor to be able to share that with others to help them learn.
Amelyne Major, Instructor
BA, Chemistry/Psychology - The College of Wooster; EMT; LNT Master Educator
I took an Aerie WFR course as part of my first field work position, on a conservation crew in the Mojave Desert. Since then I earned my EMT with Aerie and have found ways to keep working outside, primarily with trail and fire teams across the Western US. I am currently based in Oakland, CA; in addition to instructing with Aerie, I work for an organic farm and am completing coursework to prepare for Nursing school. The skills I learned in wilderness medicine courses have built my confidence traveling and working in the outdoors, and I hope to provide students with the same.
Amy Mazzarisi, Instructor
MSW - University of Michigan; RN - Excelsior College; Critical Care Paramedic
I was fortunate to take an Aerie class in 2001, which evolved into opportunities to live out some dreams including working for the park service as a paramedic. I discovered the joy of teaching Aerie students for their enthusiasm and dedication to learning. Today, I am part of the ICU and ED as a RN in the Kalispell area. Occasionally, one might find me flying as a nurse with A.L.ER.T., or as a ground paramedic for Bigfork Ambulance.
Dara McDevitt, Instructor
BS, Resource Conservation - University of Montana; EMT, W-EMT; Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Avalanche Level 1
I have been involved with Aerie since 2012 when I was a student in the Spring Semester. Outside of wilderness medicine and environmental science, I have deep-seated enthusiasm for making my own gear. I sewed for Mystery Ranch Backpacks and for Goertzen Adventure Equipment. In January 2017, I began building the Aerie first aid kit bags. I worked in Yellowstone as a bear biologist and as part of their EMS team and served in Yosemite as a backcountry ranger intern, providing medical services and working with the YOSAR team.
David McEvoy, Director
MS, Biology - University of Montana; BA, Anthropology - Bates College; Critical Care Paramedic
I have worked outdoors since 1983 and began working as a paramedic in 1991. In 1995, I co-founded Aerie and teach all levels of Aerie courses. I have worked continuously as a medic at Missoula Emergency Services since 1991, currently serving as their Training Officer. I am also the Director of Missoula College's Paramedicine program, which is a cooperative effort between Missoula Emergency Services' paramedic ambulance and the University of Montana.
John Meyer, Instructor
BS, Business Administration - University of Oregon; MBA - University of Montana; W-EMT; PHTLS; Dive Master; Advanced Swift Water Rescue Technician; Avalanche Level 1
I fell in love with Aerie’s program and team during a re-cert course and joined the team in early 2019. I’ve volunteered as a firefighter-EMT and on several technical search and rescue teams. After leaving the Army, I taught outdoor leadership and technical rescue in the University of Oregon’s outdoor program. I’ve also guided whitewater throughout Oregon and Idaho, as well as remote SCUBA diving in Australia.
Ryan Milling, Instructor
BS, Wildlife Biology - University of Montana; EMT, W-EMT; Pro Level 2 Avalanche, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Rope Rescue Technician, LNT Master Educator
I started with Aerie in 2014 by taking a WEMT class and was hooked. Teaching for Aerie combines my passion for medicine, wild spaces, and outdoor education. I have pursued these passions by leading extended courses for NOLS, Montana Wilderness School, serving as an EMT on the ambulance in Stanley, ID, guiding commercially on the Salmon River in the Frank Church Wilderness, working as a Ski Patroller and Avalanche Educator, and working towards a nursing degree from MSU. Sometimes help is far away, and backcountry decision making is a skill that needs intentional practice.
Greg Moore, Medical Director
MD; FACEP; FAWM
I completed Medical School at Ohio State University and did a dual residency in Emergency Medicine and Family Practice. I have practiced as a Board Certified Emergency Room Physician for over 30 years and now serve in Dillon, Montana as Barrett Hospital's Chief of Staff and Director of their Emergency Department in addition to working as Medical Director for Saint Patrick Hospital Rural Outreach. I am Fellowship trained in Emergency Medicine and also was among the first Fellows in Wilderness Medicine. I am active in EMS, serving as Medical Director for Missoula Emergency Services Ambulance, Missoula County Airport Authority, Powell County QRU, Beaverhead EMS, Beaverhead Search and Rescue, and Wisdom Ambulance. I am actively involved in instructing all levels of medical professionals; I also instruct Advanced Wilderness Life Support and am passionate about wilderness medicine.
Niqole Morris, Instructor; CPR Coordinator; Student Clincical Experience Coordinator
BA, Sociology-Criminology, Certification in Forensic Sciences - University of Montana; A-EMT, W-EMT; Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Hazmat Technician
I moved to Missoula in 2006 to attend the University of MT and to be closer to my family in Kalispell. I began volunteering with Missoula Rural Fire Department and later became a resident. Upon graduating from the university, I chose to stray from my law school career path and took my WEMT course from Aerie in 2010, thus beginning my journey in the medical field, which I continue to broaden and expand. I absolutely love helping others and being involved in patient care, as well as instructing for Aerie.
Ted Morrison, Instructor
MS,RN, BSN, A-EMT, W-EMT
I took my first Wilderness First Responder course with Aerie in 1999 to feel more confident in my backcountry adventures. In 2006 I completed my EMT and began instructing courses for Aerie. I helped to develop Aerie's New Staff Training and Instructor Mentoring program. I have continued my medical education to become a Registered Nurse. I currently work at Saint Patrick Hospital as a cardiac nurse. My favorite thing about wilderness medicine is not only developing the skills to treat patients, but the mindset and judgement to problem solve and stay safe in the backcountry.
Eric Mullen, Instructor
BA, Environmental Studies - University of Montana; EMT, OEC, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, SSI Autonomous Diver, STCW Offshore Basic Safety
After moving to Montana in 2003 to finish a degree in environmental studies, I finished my WEMT with Aerie. A passion for adventure and other cultures have taken me around the world. I have spent time traveling and working as a photographer, engineer and EMT/diver on several deep ocean explorations around the world involved in sea floor mapping and ship wreck search and salvage operations. I am based, between adventures, in Bozeman and spend my winters as a full time Pro Ski Patroller at Bridger Bowl.
Sierra Nix, Instructor
BA, Exercise Science - Asbury University; EMT
I made my way to Montana via Colorado, Kentucky, and Ohio. I grew up in an outdoor loving family who has passed on their love of outdoor recreation to me. I became certified in wilderness medicine in 2009, and after spending several years working in Emergency Medicine and leading wilderness trips, I adjusted my focus from practicing to teaching wilderness and emergency medicine. I've been teaching for Aerie since 2018. In my spare time I love horseback riding and hiking around the Bozeman area with my husband and our pup, Arlo.
Chris O'Brien, Instructor
MS, Natural Resources - University of Idaho; BS - Elmira College; EMT, W-EMT; EMT Instructor, Idaho EMS
Born and raised in Massachusetts, I now call the Pacific Northwest home. I began my professional career as a Park Ranger on Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. After 3 years, I took my first WEMT course. I am currently a Lead Firefighter and the EMS Lead with Boise BLM Helitack having worked on fire crews in ID, OR, and CO. I'm also currently a candidate for the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and a volunteer EMT for a department in Olympia, WA.
Tim O'Hara, Instructor
BS - Cornell University; WFR
I am the founder and owner of Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Center in rural Costa Rica where I oversee an array of initiatives related to natural building, permaculture, community development and health, and rainforest conservation. I met my wife Robin Nunes while an ecoagribusiness volunteer in the US Peace Corps in Uruguay. Our site has unintentionally become a default medical clinic in the village. We have a bilingual daughter named Soledad and spend most of our days outside working on the farm and teaching guests about our sustainability practices.
Randy Okon, Director of Wildland Fire
AA - Fire Science; EMT
A 4th generation Montana native, I began my fire career with the Department of State Lands (now DNRC) in Libby, MT. I fought fire for the Forest Service out of Troy, MT and at Dalton Station on the Angeles NF, then returned to Montana as a Firefighter for the Missoula Fire Department (MFD). During my time with MFD I specialized in wildland fire and incident management. After retiring from MFD in 2017, I joined Aerie to assist in developing the wildland fire program. I currently live in Northern Greece where I am studying Mediterranean fire behavior and European fire management.
Josh Olsen, Instructor
BA - St. Olaf College, M.Ed - University of MTW; W-EMT; Avalanche PRO-1; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; OEC
I was born and raised in Montana and grew up exploring wild spaces from the Bears Paw to the Beartooth Mountains. In addition to instructing for Aerie, I am the Co-founder and Program Director of the Montana Wilderness School based in Bozeman. During the winter season, I work as an avalanche educator, Professional Ski Patroller and avalanche rescue dog handler with my dog Numa at Bridger Bowl Ski Area. What I love about Aerie’s approach to teaching wilderness medicine is the commitment to scenario-based learning, helping to bridge the gap between education and experience.
Jeff Olson, Instructor
BA, Studio Art - Evergreen State College; W-EMT; USDA C-sawyer; Evaluator: Chainsaw/Crosscut; Level 1 Avalanche
Growing up in Western WA provided me many opportunities to be in the outdoors hiking, snowboarding, fly fishing and hunting. This lead me into an incredible career working in the conservation field. I serve as the Risk Management and Field Training Officer for the Northwest Youth Corps, where I am able to use my two decades of conservation experience by training staff, field leaders and members. My interest in wilderness medicine was sparked in 2008 when I took my WEMT course with NOLS; that interest has grown into a passion as I began teaching with Aerie in 2018.
Eddie Olwell, Instructor
W-EMT; B.S., Economics, LeMoyne College; Level I Avalanche; Swiftwater First Responder
I have been involved with Aerie since 1999 when I took a WFR course for my guide and outfitting business. Moving up to complete Aerie's W-EMT course helped me land a job with Lost Trail Ski Patrol and then as an instructor for Aerie. Patrolling and instructing for Aerie complement each other very well. When I am not skiing or teaching I can be found pursuing my other passion, fly fishing on Montana's great trout rivers. I own and operate Fishs Eddy O Fly Fishing Outfiiter and Guide Service, specializing in guided fly fishing trips on the Bitterroot and other western Montana rivers.
Shantanu Pandit, Instructor
I grew up in a suburb of Mumbai, India. I've been hiking & rock climbing since college days, and have been part of a few peak climbing expeditions in the Himalaya. From 2000 until 2013, I was a NOLS instructor, working a couple of courses per year, and have also run an adventure travel company. Since 2000 I have been facilitating outdoor management development programs for business organizations and now also offer consultancy to outdoor & experiential education organisations in areas like programme content, risk management and staff training.
Doug Petch, Instructor
Paramedic, W-EMT, AWLS
After retiring from a career in the United States Army, my love of backpacking led me to take a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class. That class sparked an interest in wilderness medicine that resulted in me becoming a Paramedic specializing in wilderness, expedition and remote area medicine. I currently live with my wife Beth and our Black Lab Gunner in NW Montana where I work as Clinical Coordinator and Instructor for the Flathead Valley Community College Paramedic Program and serve as Team Paramedic for the Flathead County Search and Rescue Team.
Will Polansky, Instructor
AA, Outdoor Education and Leadership - Central Wyoming College; Paramedic
I started my career in wilderness medicine after taking a WFR course in 2009 and began working with Aerie a couple years later, after completing an Aerie WEMT. In addition to instructing with Aerie I’ve also worked managing Aerie's course gear. Currently I work as a firefighter/paramedic in West Yellowstone and live there with my wife and 2 daughters. I spend as much time as possible trying to find fish in Yellowstone National Park. I continue to work for Aerie because of the passion that we all share for wilderness medicine and education.
Damien Powledge, Instructor
BLS, ACLS, ATLS, PA-C, Level I Avalanche
The field of Geology was my initial career path, until an Aerie WFR course in 2004 promptly derailed that trajectory my final semester of college. I eventually dove deeper into medicine, getting an EMT, and working at both hospitals in Missoula as an ER Tech EMT, while teaching for Aerie and working in tissue/organ recovery. Upon graduation from UW's PA School, I practiced Family Medicine/Urgent Care, in addition to working with Trauma Services at St Patrick Hospital. Most recently, I have transitioned to working in Neurosurgery full-time.
James Pyke, Instructor; Semester Coordinator; Staffing Manager
EMT, Avalanche Level 2, High Angle Rope Rescue for Ski Patrol
I took a W-EMT class with Aerie to bolster my backcountry skills and found I had a passion for rescue and emergency medicine. I worked professionally as a ski patroller for 10 years at Montana Snowbowl and the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky. During that time I taught for Aerie during the summer and worked regularly with our Summer Semester program. I currently live in Alaska and still instruct for Aerie. I also work as the Semester Coordinator and as the Staffing Manager. I love skiing, running and generally spending time in the mountains.
Roman Sanchez, Instructor
MS - Elementary Education and ESL; W-EMT; Swiftwater First Responder; Level 1 Avalanche; OEC Technician and Instructor
After completing my Master's degree, I joined the Peace Corps, teaching in Honduras. I then spent 13 years teaching in a bilingual elementary education program. I've taught for Aerie for over a decade and am one of the lead instructors for our Semester program. I work for the Indian Peaks Rural Fire District as a firefighter and EMT/SAR member. I am also an active ski-patroller and volunteer with the Buffalo Field Campaign in the Yellowstone area. I’ve lived off-grid in a straw bale cabin that I built with family and friends at 9200 ft for close to 20 years now.
Akshay Shah, Instructor
I work with the Hanifl Centre in Mussoorie, India and teach wilderness first aid courses here for Aerie. I have been involved with NOLS India Chapter, giving slide shows and talks on the environment. During my initiative to save the dying Steppe Eagles in Ranikhet, we managed to successfully save 22 eagles. I have been training people from the Indian Administrative Services (IAS), (IPS), Provincial Civil Services (PCS) & Urban Local Bodies as a visiting faculty at Uttarakhand Academy of Administration, Nainital for the last 7 years.
Steve Shepro, Instructor
BS, Paramedicine - BYU-Idaho; MCHS - University of Washington; PA-C; Paramedic; W-EMT; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Level-I Avalanche
I am a former guide with Mt. Rainier Alpine Guides and International Mountain Guides and have worked as an EMT/ Swiftwater Rescue Technician for the Whitewater Rescue Institute. I worked as an EMT on the ambulance with Missoula Emergency Services and Madison Fire Department, then as a Paramedic/ ER Tech at Teton Valley Hospital. I currently work as a PA at Northern Rockies Orthopaedics in Missoula. I began teaching with Aerie in 1999 and am constantly inspired by our students to continue learning.
Amy Shuler, Instructor
BA, Spanish K-12 Education - Montana State University; W-EMT, Paramedic
A native Montanan, I now live and work in Bozeman as a Paramedic and have been teaching for Aerie since 2013. I have volunteered for the local Search and Rescue team, taught middle school Spanish, served as a rescue K9 handler, and worked for Bozeman's increasingly busy 911 system. An Aerie Wilderness First Responder course was my first glimpse into emergency medicine and has proved to be the gateway to a rewarding, inspiring, and humbling pursuit.
Andrea Stephens, Adjunct Instructor
MS, Environmental Studies - University of Montana; BS, Geology - University of Puget Sound
I have worked as a professional outdoor and science educator since 1987 and was an EMT and W-EMT for ten of those. I currently coordinate the Health Science Academy at Big Sky High School in Missoula and also work on outreach for Aerie's Semesters. Since finishing my Master's degree, I have lead backcountry trail crews and fisheries field crews, designed and led college field programs (for 17 years), and for the past 10 years have been working with Aerie's Semester in Wilderness Medicine to teach backcountry navigation and other essential outdoor skills.
Josh Tapp, Instructor
BA, Political Science -University of South Carolina; W-EMT; Avalanche Level II
As a guide for International Mountain Guides one of the most enjoyable experiences I get is watching people experience the mountains for the first time. Being an Aerie Instructor seemed to be the next step as I pursued a career in the mountains. I have been involved in many search and rescues, and I enjoy teaching others the systematic approach to being a first responder in a wilderness environment. I hope that you as a student can learn from my good and bad judgement, so that you someday will know how to handle an emergency if need be.
Ellie Thompson, Instructor
I wandered Wyoming's Wind River mountains for the National Outdoor Leadership School for 5 years then worked as a field instructor with Three Rivers Wilderness Therapy in Belgrade, MT. For the past 7 years I’ve ski patrolled at Moonlight Basin in Southwest Montana. Avalanche rescue became a passion as well, and I trained my dog, Chica, to work on the ski hill with me as an avalanche rescue dog. I began to teach wilderness medicine for Aerie because I love having to make sound decisions in stressful situations and wanted to train others to be able to do the same.
Becca Wallace, Instructor
Associate of Applied Science Degree - University of Montana; W-EMT; Paramedic; Avalanche Level I; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Hazardous Waste Operator for Emergency Responders (HAZWOPER); Rope Rescue Technician I/II
I obtained my EMT in 2000 and started work at Missoula Emergency Services ambulance where I completed my training as a Paramedic. I was an integral part of the formation and operations of the ambulance's Backcountry Emergency Response Team, eventually becoming a member of Missoula County Search and Rescue where I continue to volunteer. My experience and interest in education brought me to Aerie in 2006 where I am a lead instructor. I train and teach for the Whitewater Rescue Institute as well. In the summer I work as a line paramedic for wildland fire.
Emily Weiler, EMT Exam Coordinator
BS, Chemistry - University of MT; W-EMT; National Allergy Bureau Pollen Counter
After taking an Aerie W-EMT class in the fall of 2013, she is now an EMT class lead instructor and coordinates EMT exams. When she’s not working for Aerie she can be found in her laboratory on campus, studying respiratory diseases and putting her Chemistry degree to good use. And those pollen reports you see on the news? Those are from her! The only certified pollen counter in the state of MT!
Fred Westereng, Instructor
I completed my W-EMT in 2005 with Aerie and worked as an EMT for Missoula's Ambulance, Missoula Emergency Services, from 2006-2008. Currently, I’m a Physician Assistant for Providence Medical Group working in Urgent Care. I’ve also worked in Family Medicine. I've traveled extensively to Central America on medical missions with Missoula Medical Aid.
Rachael Wilson, Instructor
BA, Multi-Disciplinary Studies-University of Tennessee; W-EMT
I began working for a helicopter company in Skagway, AK then became a glacier guide which required me to have medical training. I took a WFR and fell in love with emergency medicine. Soon after, I decided to take a W-EMT course with Aerie. I worked in Alaska as a guide and W-EMT for the next couple years before I returned to Missoula to start teaching with Aerie. In Missoula, I worked for the ambulance service, MESI. Now I teach full time with Aerie. The combination of medicine, teaching, and the outdoors has been the perfect fit for my life and I love what I do!
Justin Woods, Instructor
Paramedic; Swiftwater Rescue Technician
I coordinate Aerie's courses in the Flathead Valley - Glacier National Park area. When I'm not teaching for Aerie, I am a full-time, professional firefighter/paramedic in Whitefish, Montana and I work as a raft guide in the summers. I spend as much of my spare time as possible in the backcountry skiing, ice & rock climbing, or kayaking in Montana and Alaska.
Dave Zinn, Instructor
BA, History - University of Oregon; W-EMT; OEC; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Graduate National Avalanche School
I began teaching for Aerie Backcountry Medicine in 2011. I spend summers operating Wave Train Kayak Team, a Bozeman-based program for 10 to 18-year-olds. In the fall and winter, I work as an Avalanche Forecaster and Education Coordinator for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) and as a part-time ski patroller at Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Most recently I have been working with a group to bring wilderness medical training to Tibetans working in tourism and guiding industries. Soon we should have the Aerie Manual available in Mandarin!
Frank Zuccala, Instructor
RN, CEN, W-EMT, TR-C
My life was forever changed after taking a W-EMT course, where I fell in love with wilderness medicine. Since then, I have cared for patients in hospital ERs and ICUs, on ambulances, with fire crews, and also in austere and hostile environments. I joined Aerie in 2019 to help pass along my passion for patient care, and to continue my own growth as a healthcare provider and student of the medical arts.
In Memory Of Our Dear Friend
Adrienne arrived in Missoula in 1980 to attend the University of Montana, where she earned her Master’s degree in recreation management. During her early days in Missoula, Adrienne worked at the YWCA and for the Wellness Center, Campus Recreation and Human Resources within the University. Shortly after 2000, Adrienne found her “work family” when she accepted a position in the Department of Health and Human Performance. In her new position she laid the foundation for one of the most diverse activity class programs, which now offers more than 100 recreation sections each semester. Adrienne also brought her passion for life and active lifestyle to the program. In her free time she served as a ski instructor and Pro Patroller at Montana Snowbowl, was active in Missoula Freestyle and worked for Aerie Backcountry Medicine. As a Lead Instructor, Adrienne taught countless students in Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT courses. Adrienne always lived life at warp speed and thoroughly enjoyed life. Her family and friends thought of her as an Italian Eveready bunny. Adrienne was the kind of person who excelled at everything she did and focused her sharp mind and endless energy on countless people and projects throughout the community, always with the goal of helping others succeed. On May 28, 2013 Adrienne passed away after a long, fierce fight against cancer. Adrienne was the captain of her ship right up to the end and will be remembered as a brave, kind soul graced with a quick wit. Adrienne will be missed by many but forgotten by none that knew her.