Our energetic seasonal instructors come from all over the country to lead our expeditions. All are highly-trained in outdoor education and the unique needs of diverse adolescents. Each facilitator has an average of seven years of outdoor education experience and is Wilderness First Aid trained, with at least one Wilderness First Responder certified instructor on each course. A significant portion of instructor training is dedicated to GirlVentures’ unique leadership, social-emotional learning, and inclusion curriculum.
Course Director & Rock Instructor, Rising Together & Redwood Adventure Rock
Grace has been working with GirlVentures since 2014. In addition to working for GirlVentures' she also instructs for NOLS and Balanced Rock. Grace's mission is to share her outdoor knowledge, skills and resources with folks from communities that have been underrepresented in the mainstream outdoor narrative. When she isn't playing in the dirt, she can be found on her bike, binge reading books or hosting parties.
Logistics Coordinator & Kayak Instructor, Redwood Adventure Coast & Project Courage
Michelle grew up exploring the ocean by kayak and eating tropical fruits in South Florida. Eventually drawn to the desert, she headed West to study at Prescott College in Arizona. Michelle is passionate about women and girl’s expeditions, and the ability of wilderness experiences to strengthen confidence and courage. She is most drawn to water and likes to spend her days swimming in oceans and rivers and on multi-day kayaking and rafting expeditions. Some of her paddling adventures have taken her to the Alaskan wilderness, to islands off the coast of Eastern Canada, to Baja and the Sea of Cortez, to Central and South America, to the Ten Thousand Islands in Florida, and to both the Green and Colorado rivers. She is also passionate about food; and loves growing food, eating food, and making food. She can often be found eating tropical fruits, making chocolate, baking, sprouting seeds, and drinking coffee.
Instructor, Redwood Adventure Rock & On The Rise
McKenzie hails from the soggy streets and rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest. Born and raised in Portland, OR, she's supposedly a grown-up now but she still loves to play outside. This is her second season with GirlVentures, and for six years she has been leading outdoor excursions for a variety of organizations, schools, and guiding outfitters. McKenzie considers herself a perpetual student and she is inspired by what she learns from listening to other people’s stories. She is working hard to figure out her role in making this world a more loving place for EVERYONE. No exceptions. She believes in the good in people and in the ability of the outdoors to bring out our best selves. When she is not leading GirlVentures trips, she also loves to go rock climbing, read things, ride her bicycle through rainstorms, paint sloppy watercolors of beautiful places, eat whole grapefruits like an orange, pull the weeds out of the garden, and sing really loud alone in the car.
Course Director, Project Courage
Qayyuma grow up deeply rooted in nature, on a dirt road in the rolling hills of upstate NY. Through out the years this personal connection to the natural world has gown into a passionate desire to share the experience with others, especially young woman. Qayyuma believes strongly in creating authentic, inclusive community spaces where everyone can truly be them selves and shine! She has been involved in the GirlVentures community since 2011, starting as a mentor for GCO and quickly getting more engaged. When she is not in the field Qayyuma can be found hanging with her daughter, creating potions, rock climbing and exploring new ways of being.
Course Director, On The Rise
Nina grew up in Berkeley and loved her family getaways to camp in Point Reyes and Tilden Park. In college she started guiding fellow students in the outdoors – introducing them to sunrises, constellations, and GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts). After studying wastewater reuse in grad school, Nina decided to balance her work life between in outdoor education and water. She currently teaches an experiential education based water resources class at a high school in SF and leads greywater workshops for Greywater Action, showing folks how to install greywater systems in their own backyards! She loves being outdoors – weather it’s a pee with a view or the smell of fresh pine, Nina is forever grateful for what nature has to offer. Nina started with GirlVentures as an Instructor in 2016 and is back this year for her third year in a row as Course Director for On The Rise - mentoring instructors, supporting the young people, and making sure the participants have all that they need for a transformative trip. Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself – and there’s nothing like a tough trail, good company, and wondrous views to help create who you want to be.
Course Director & Rock Instructor, Transitions
Narinda joined the GirlVentures community in Fall 2013 as a mentor for Girlz Climb On East Bay. She worked as an Admissions Associate for the 2014 season, during which she also became a field instructor. She's since worked community and summer courses for GirlVentures as well as wilderness courses with NOLS, Eagle Rock School, and Dunn School. Prior to work as an outdoor educator, Narinda graduated from UC Irvine with a BA in English literature in 2007 and worked in the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles 2007-2012. Narinda recently joined the Stanford Adventure Program as part-time and field staff. When not working in outdoor education, she spends her time rock climbing, writing, and making pottery.
Katrina joined the GirlVentures community in 2017 as a mentor for Girls Climb On. Since then she has worked as the 2018 Logistics Coordinator, and will be returning this season as an instructor. In addition to outdoor education, Katrina works as a CNC Machinist and is pursuing degrees in Machine Technology and Welding. When not melting or cutting metal, she spends her time climbing, skiing, or wrenching on her bike so she can then go ride it. Often accompanying her on these adventures is her trusty side-kick, Maple. She is an advocate for empowering youth through both outdoor education and fabrication.
Preferred pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Instructor, Project Courage
Lydia grew up and went to college in Maryland, and after graduating, decided to try working in the outdoors. She started an internship with Outward Bound's At-Risk program in Florida, which showed her just how impactful outdoor experiences can be. From there, she instructed abroad, then most recently in California, where she discovered a love for the mountains. She has continued to pursue this field because she wants to help make these experiences accessible to young people where they can be challenged, encouraged, and immersed in a place away from their everyday lives. Lydia believes that everyone needs to pushed out of their comfort zones to grow. It is a dream to be able to work outside and grow as an instructor everyday, and she looks forward to learning from and leading participants through reflective, fun, and transformative experiences as well!
Instructor, Rising Together + Redwood Adventure Coast + Fierce n' Fabulous
Miah is a queer, mixed-race, Black woman from Asheville, North Carolina. She has worked for the North Carolina Outward Bound School for the past 7 years, cycling through a variety of titles and responsibilities ranging from intern, logistics, instructor, whitewater specialist, and course director. Miah has had the privilege of working with, adventuring alongside, and learning from hundreds of students, and feels so lucky to build community with folks in wilderness! She is especially grateful for having had the opportunity to listen and learn from the stories and experiences of adjudicated youth, veterans, trauma survivors, and youth of color. As a graduate student in the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State, Miah is interested in the politics of space, racialized landscapes, and the relationship between healing the people / healing the land.
Vanessa hails from the small coastal town of Marina, CA (near the much better known Monterey, CA – yes the aquarium). With a backyard like Big Sur, she was always close to and inspired by the beauty and power of the outdoors. Though she didn’t take her first camping/backpacking trip until the ripe age of 22, she has since fallen in love with anything and everything outdoors-related, and is passionate about getting young people to experience it for themselves.
As one of three girls raised by a single mother in low-income housing, Vanessa understands the challenges of getting youth outside. She hopes to use her experience to guide following generations outdoors. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2017 (first one in the family to get a Bachelors!) with a degree in Anthropology and traveling the world for 7 months, people are her passion, followed closely by climbing, hiking, eating, and definitely coffee.
Instructor, Fierce & Fabulous + Redwood Adventure Coast
Erin grew up in the Bay Area adventuring to local open spaces with her family, and moved to the Southwest four years ago. When she was in middle school she was introduced to outdoor adventure based programming and since then her passion for the working outdoors has only grown. Erin recently graduated from Prescott College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in Adventure Education and Human Development. Erin sees the value in this work because the leadership, communication and personal development skills that she gleaned from her outdoor experiences as a young person are the same skills she still relies upon to work her way through life’s challenges.
Course Director, Redwood Adventure Coast
Avalon is a GirlVentures baby, having grown up learning how to be outside with GirlVentures programs. As a student she has been on Project Courage, Transitions, and Girls Climb On. After GirlVentures she went on a month long NOLS course that brought her to the alpine lakes of Wyoming. She then worked as an Assistant Instructor for Transitions the summer after high school and has returned the past three years as a full instructor. She is now returning to GirlVentures as a course director for Redwood Adventure. She graduated from Bard College in 2018 with a BA in Anthropology. This past year she has been working as the Outings Assistant at a local high school, learning more about what it means coordinate and organize trips. She has also been working as the Program Coordinator for Girls Climb On in SF. Avalon is passionate about the work that GirlVentures does and is ever grateful for the place it made for her in the outdoor community. She is continuing to learn about what it means to create more access and inclusion within the outdoor world. Avalon also loves soccer, climbing, (is learning more about kayaking), and dancing.
Instructor, Rising Together/Redwood Adventure Rock/Project Courage/On The Rise
Amelia Vigil started working with Girl Ventures this year. As a San Franciscan, Two- Spirit, Urban- Indigenous/Latinx, performance artist, poet, outdoor educator & twin she has been tracking GV since 2013. Acting chair of the board of Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit. Her advocacy and support of Indigenous self-determination are a constant in her life. Amelia has an A.A. from Feather River Community College in Outdoor Recreational Leadership & a B.A. in English from Mills College. In 2018 she completed a 114-mile journey of the Nuumu Poyo with Indigenous Women Hikes. You can find her reading three books, crying and playing the flute to the moon on any given day.
Photo credit Autumn Harrys