Our team is the most important part of our operation! We are so lucky to work with the finest in the business.
Ryan E. Barfoot
Ryan was eating dirt from day one. When the rains came and earth worms sought refuge on roadways, Ryan brought them to grassy salvation. From the land where the Eastern Hardwood forests meet the Canadian Shield, the rivers, lakes and valleys have always been Ryan's home. At 16 Ryan got his first job as a wilderness guide and ever since has been refining his practice and trying to better understand the conditions which make the profound probable.
After graduating from the University of Victoria he completed his Bachelor of Education specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Learning at Queens University. Ryan completed a Masters of Education in Curriculum Development and Implementation at Simon Fraser University. His research interests include transformative education, contemporary Rites of Passage, place-based and ecological learning environments.
Ryan has delivered environmental education programs at the grassroots and governmental level. He has worked with Parks Canada, BC Parks, the National Forest Service and the National Parks Service before building the Outdoor & Ecological Learning department for the Powell River School District. He also chairs the district Sustainable Schools Committee and is the program coordinator for the Coast Mountain Academy. Ryan has piloted new sustainability programs with the BC Ministry of Education, and speaks / delivers workshops in the areas of Environmental and Nature-based Education. He is the BC Director for the Outdoor Council of Canada.
With a passion for pretty much everything, he puts his heart and soul into all he does. Ryan is guided by his belief that a better world is possible and relentlessly endeavors to be a net benefit to the whole. He, his wife Karin, son Wren and daughter River currently live in the old Townsite (Powell River) on the Sunshine Coast BC, Canada.
Karin Westland's life has been narrated by many landscapes. From her childhood in rural Colorado to her youth in the lake country of Northern Ontario, wild places have shaped who Karin is.
With a strong connection to nature, Karin pursued a Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Geography and English from the University of Victoria. From there, she made her way to Kingston Ontario to pursue a Bachelor's of Education in Outdoor and Experiential Learning at Queen's University. Recently Karin completed her Masters of Education at Simon Fraser University.
Over the last 12 years, she has worked as an Outdoor and Sustainability Educator in the non-profit sector, National Parks, and the public education system. As cofounder and teacher in the Sustainability and Ecological Education Department in the Powell River School District, she has had countless opportunities to connect young people with the outdoors in a meaningful way. In her current position as the Sustainability Coordinator with the Powell River School District, Karin works with the Ministry of Education on related pilot projects and presently oversees the implementation of a variety of district-wide sustainability initiatives including Destination Conservation and our district's sustainability newsletter, The Green Glance.
Karin is inspired by community, music, and running long distances on rainy west coast days. With a strong vision that a more sustainable world is possible, she continues to keep an open mind, dedicating herself wholly to making the world a more equitable and sustainable place to live.
Alyssa Stapleton - Seasonal outdoor instructor
Alyssa Stapleton is from cedar trees and star filled skies, mountain peaks and expansive seas. From challenges and death to blessings and rebirth. Native to British Columbia’s west coast, she has a passion for connecting deeply to wild places and advocating for their protection. She is committed to living well on this earth and nurturing those who surround her. Alyssa does this through her work as an outdoor educator and sea kayak guide.
Over the last decade, Alyssa has worked all along BC's coastline as well as abroad in Malaysia educating folks in the marine environment. When not paddling Alyssa can be found sailing with her partner Mat in their 34' sailboat Rainbow. Though a vast majority of her life revolves around the sea, Alyssa is also passionate about bike packing and has completed two long distance cycling trips. One across Canada (West to East) and another through the landscapes of Mexico and Belize.
As both a LEAP and CMA alumni Alyssa loves remaining involved in these programs. Both LEAP and CMA have acted as the backbone in Alyssa's life, enabling her to pursue her passions for outdoor environmental education on both a local and global scale.
Matt Emig - seasonal outdoor instructor
Matt Emig was brought up exploring the captivating beauty of BC's fertile plains and majestic mountains. He is an alumnus the Coast Mountain Academy and a member of Powell River Search and Rescue. Matt has several years experience as a guide and programmer for the Leadership Ecology Adventure Program (LEAP).
Matt has plays the fiddle the guitar and sings, and is a semi-professional musician. He believes that every piece of nature has its own sound, its own music or song that it continually proclaims as it points to wonderful things for us to discover, so there couldn't be anything more fitting than adding our sounds to this already existing symphony. Music is a great way to build relationships, tell stories, teach lessons, and remember the important things of the past. Most of all, music loves to inspire feelings of joy, and he believes that joy is great medicine if you will, for the soul.
Matt loves every aspect of his work, but his most cherished component is seeing the students break through the wall of fear and uncertainty and step into their true identities as the great leaders that they are. He believes that life flows through relationship and honor, so in this context not only do students learn to further their ability as leaders, but they also learn how to do life well.
Jim and Gerrimae Sepkowski - seasonal outdoor instructors
When Jim Sepkowski left Alberta to travel he didn't know that he would fall in love with the sea. He met up with the Pacific Swift, a schooner run by SALTS ( Sail and Life Training Society) and joined her second off-shore voyage on the leg from Victoria to Costa Rica. He fell in love with sailing and remained to work with SALTs for five years, training young sailors and travelling the world.
Jim met Gerrimae Griffioen on board Pacific Swift and fell in love again. Both Jim and Gerrimae worked for years with SALTs, gaining a deep knowledge about the ocean, weather, and navigation, in short what it takes to be "water-savvy."
With the birth of their second child, the family settled in Powell River. But soon the ocean beckoned again. In 2007, Jim and Gerrimae set out in their refurbished fifty-foot schooner, Maryke Violet, and sailed west in the Pacific, for a year of adventures at sea, this time with their two teenage children. Since 2011 the couple have contributed to LEAP Aboard, combining the skills of a sea-going voyage with leadership training for students on the Maryke Violet.