Meet our Instructors
We can't do what we do without the top notch instructors that come to offer their wisdom and skills at each camp! We value the women and men who are dedicated to our Mission and enjoy teaching all of you so much they come back year after year!
We feel that supporting our Instructors outside of camp is important too. We value those doing the important work of Outdoor Education! Follow the links in your favorite instructors bios for more information and additional offerings outside of VOW.
Fall VOW Camp Instructors
Barbara Schultz has worked in forestry for over 40 years, and has been a forest health specialist for the State of Vermont since 1980. She started her classes as a Forest Ecology instructor at CCV by predicting that everyone would learn to identify twenty trees, and it was true (even the student who said, “I can’t, I’m from Brooklyn”). She likes the “detective” part of her job, using clues in the forest to diagnose forest tree problems, and finds that knowing the trees and being able to read the woods makes any walk in the forest more interesting.
Bonna Wieler teaches kayaking skills as an American Canoe Association kayak Instructor through summer camps, school programs, and Bold Paths Adventure. She leads day and overnight kayaking trips for AMC Worcester and Berkshire Chapters, and offers beginning kayakers a no-stress, supportive learning environment. She also teaches river curricula and consults, runs environmental and outdoor education workshops for school and after-school programs, and teaches team building and natural arts. Bonna serves on the board of Women Outdoors, Inc. and coordinates their NH/VT activities.
A lifelong outdoorswoman and equestrian, Cheryl Frank Sullivan's primary wild side passions are bow hunting and muzzleloader for white-tailed deer, ice fishing for northern pike and spending time with her horse. Between those activities, she can be found trolling for salmon or casting for bowfin and bass on Lake Champlain on her boat the "WildFisherWoman". A graduate of and employee at the University of Vermont, Cheryl is currently pursuing her PhD specializing in the biological control of arthropod pests.
Danielle Rougeau is the College Archivist at Middlebury College. She learned to log roll in a 2004 winter term class at Middlebury, offered by nationally-ranked woman log roller, Lizzie Hoeschler. She now teaches log rolling to Middlebury students throughout the year, organizes log rolling competitions, and during the summer can be seen with a Key Log strapped to the roof of her car. Danielle lives in Orwell, VT.
David Shedd is Publisher & Senior Editor of EasternSlopes.com, an online magazine devoted to encouraging people to get outdoors in the northeast. His specialties are carrying insane weights in backpacks over rough terrain to test packs, boots, snowshoes, and himself, and sleeping comfortably warm when the temperature sinks well below his sleeping bag's rating. David grew up in Vermont woods, far from neighbors (explains some of his eccentricities) and started learning outdoor skills early. Much to his parents' consternation, he always found his way home, even before GPS. David loves pedaling road, mountain and cyclocross bikes all year, and has raced on all three. He's survived the Mount Washington Hillclimb three times. He also enjoys backpacking, paddling kayaks, and has recently taken up "adventure obstacle course racing" which, he admits, is a form of institutionalized self-abuse. David hunts and fishes, often from a backpack or kayak camp. In winter, he camps, snowshoes, and enjoys every type of skiing that doesn't involve terrain parks. Enthusiastic about all these pursuits and the necessary gear, he places a strong emphasis on teaching people how to do things safely; he knows the right way to do things precisely because he's probably already suffered the consequences of doing it wrong the first time!
Deb Weinstein has been hiking and paddling in New England for 45 years. She has current Level 2 canoe instructor certification with the American Canoe Association and leads paddle trips for the AMC Worcester and Berkshire Chapters. Her volunteer responsibilities include work with the Massachusetts Appalachian Trail Management Committee and serving as a regional coordinator for Women Outdoors, Inc. Her current outdoor interests are river paddling, sea kayaking, canoe camping, backpacking, and cross country skiing. She is a part-time bicycle mechanic and soon-to-be retired atmospheric scientist.
Jessie Krebs is a former U.S. Air Force SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.) Training Instructor from the old school days when instructors were simply called “Survival Instructors”. As one of a handful of women in the male dominated S.E.R.E. career field, Jessie outsmarted and out-toughed many of her male counterparts in the Air Force to make it through the intense S.E.R.E. training program (class 91-02) and earn her right to a coveted position as an Air Force SERE Specialist. She is a back-country mountain guide leading recreational and wilderness therapy expeditions across many stretches of the American Southwest. In addition to being the Founder & Head Instructor of SERE Training School's SERE-oriented survival training programs for both civilians and outdoor professionals, Jessie is highly sought-after as a technical consultant and on-screen survival expert for a number of international survival shows including Science Channel's Hacking The Wild, Fox's Kicking & Screaming, and National Geographic's Mygrations where Jessie became one of only a handful of modern human beings ever to complete a primitive crossing of hundreds of miles of Tanzanian Serengeti on foot.
Johanna Laggis is a dairy farmer in East Hardwick, VT. Along with her husband, John, his brother Chris, and their families, Laggis brothers Farms milks 500 Jerseys and manages 1000 acres of land. In addition to dairying, they sugar and harvest timber. Johanna worked as a forester for the State of Vermont in the 1980s and still spends lots of time in the woods foraging for wild edibles, identifying everything alive, and sharing her knowledge with friends and dogs. Johanna is currently serving on the Fish & Wildlife board as the Caledonia County representative.
John Adler is Co-Owner/Senior Instructor at Northeast Woodland Training, Inc. Among the most recognized logging instructors in the United States, John brings 15+ years' experience as a Game of Logging instructor and has trained hundreds of professional loggers, forest owners, and students throughout New England, New York, and beyond. During winter months, John owns and operates Eagle Forest Improvement, a logging business in Chester, VT. John has worked with a variety of logging systems, from cable skidders to dozers to his current forwarder-based operation. John has a degree in forestry from Paul Smith's College.
Larry W. Hamel lives in Hardwick, Vermont. He is currently President of the Lamoille Valley Fish & Game Club and is a certified VT Hunter Education Instructor. Larry has been working with women's groups, instructing muzzleloader, rifle and handgun safety courses for the past 20+ years. He is a carpenter by trade and a hunter-tracker-competitive shooter-woodsman by choice.
Linwood H. Smith has over 30 years of experience teaching archery skills and with all brands of archery equipment repair. He will work one-on-one with you to pinpoint any troubles with your setup and get your gear hitting the right spot with the right force no time! Linwood Smith Archery Pro Shop, located in St. Johnsbury, is proud to offer the award winning performance of Martin and all of the equipment and accessories to help you reach your archery goals. Every Bow Linwood sells is carefully configured and set up to wield the best possible performance. Courses in their large indoor/outdoor archery shooting range are available year-round with peak season in August through October.
Mariah Mitchell is from Morrisville, VT and has a degree in Environmental Science. Mariah is currently a teacher at a nature based preschool. For summer 2019 she worked as a Natural Resource Instructor for Green Mountain Conservation Camp held through the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Mariah is very passionate about going into law enforcement and is working to pursue a career as a Game Warden in the state of Vermont. She enjoys recreational outdoor activities such as hunting, ice fishing, paddle boarding and hiking. She also enjoys volunteering her time as a Hunter Education Instructor and a firefighter on Morrisville Fire Department.
Meridy Capella has been the owner of Evergreen Alterations, a woman-owned small business in Bennington, VT for over 20 years. She's a government contractor for the Department of Defense, while maintaining a civilian client base in her area. Meridy alters the uniforms of all law enforcement in Bennington County. Fiber arts, sewing, and creating are Meridy's passions and pastime. She truly enjoys sharing this passion with her community.
Founder of Mountainsong Expeditions, Murphy Robinson spent 8 years as traveling wilderness guide and trail worker before putting down roots and starting their own wilderness company in Calais, VT. Murphy has thru-hiked the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail; hunted deer in NC, ME, and VT; and cleared countless miles of trails with an ax and crosscut saw. Passionate about empowering women with solid backcountry skills and enabling people to experience a spiritual connection with the land, Murphy leads backcountry trips and teaches classes in bow drill fires, spoon-carving, ax skills, and the popular Huntress Intensive. Murphy learned most of her ax skills in the CA Conservation Corps Backcountry Trails Program.
Robin Nesbeda has been living, working, and playing in the outdoors for over 30 years. She has a B.A. in Geology and a M.S. in Disaster Science and is a Wilderness EMT. Her professional background includes conducting environmental field work, working as a risk manager for overseas educational programs, state and federal-level disaster response, and wilderness search and rescue. She currently lives in the mountains of western Maine and splits her time between Sunday River ski patrol and teaching for Wilderness Medical Associates, International.
Sarah Nutt grew up living and working in the outdoor industry. She has worked in her dad's boatyard since she was 16, building and repairing wooden and fiberglass boats. As a licensed Captain, she has been an Outward Bound instructor since 2012, teaching sailing courses in Maine and Florida. She's come back to Maine full time now, working ski patrol at Sunday River in the winters. She has spent years learning and harvesting medicinal herbs, and always has a salve, tincture, or tea ready for life's bumps and bruises.
Sawyer M.L. Alberi, Ed.D has over 15 years of teaching wilderness, remote, travel, and conflict medicine. A veteran of the U.S. Military, Sawyer was deployed to Iraq as a flight medic and again to Afghanistan where she ran the largest aid station in the region and was tasked with validating the mission of women engaging women for future dynamic battlefields. While her academic specialty is Leadership Education in Media and Gender studies, Sawyer teaches as part time faculty for Norwich University in the behavioral sciences and she also has designed and teaches many of the courses in the Wellness and Alternative Medicine Degree at Northern Vermont University. Sawyer enjoys snowshoeing all winter long, deer hunting in every season, and is quite possibly the worst fly fisher in Vermont. In her spare time, Sawyer and her family breed Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Tim Jones is founder and executive editor of EasternSlopes.com, devoted to encouraging people to get outdoors in the northeast. Tim's motto is "Life isn't a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!" and he practices what he preaches. He wandered from the back yard of his rural New Hampshire home as a toddler and has been exploring outdoors ever since. He started skiing at age 4, was still in grade school when he started camping, hiking, and paddling canoes, and taught both Alpine and cross-country skiing while in high school and college. A full-time journalist for nearly 40 years, Tim has published over 1500 feature stores and thousands of newspaper columns on outdoor pursuits. Winter is his favorite season and he enjoys camping; snowshoeing; Alpine, AT backcountry, Telemark and Cross-country skiing; Nordic skating; and winter mountaineering. When there's no snow, he hikes, paddles sea kayaks, rides bikes, camps, and climbs mountains. He is also an avid fly fisher and hunter. Tim's experience in the outdoors has taught him that the best way to safely learn any new skill is in incremental steps with expert instruction from someone who knows, not only how to do, but also how to teach.
Janice Decooman creates fiber and art projects at her home in Fairfax, Vermont She also breeds canaries and grows indigo for fresh leaf dying. She majored in graphic design at Paier College of Art in New Haven, CT, studied art and culture at Vermont College and has a M.Ed. in creative arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Janice focused her career on teaching art and health in Vermont public schools while tending fiber animals, spinning, knitting, crocheting and developing her weaving style by incorporating studies of Navajo and Japanese weaving. Painting 'Whimsical Expressions' on wood started as a unique way to display woven and dyed garments which has grown into a separate art form. Currently Janice balances her Wildflower Weaving & JDesigns business with studying Ayurveda and working as a wellness consultant. She shows her fiber and art work at local art galleries and offers weaving and indigo dye instruction.