Our guides are more than guides; they're our most important asset. Our staff is trained under the most extensive program of any company we know. They begin sharing their knowledge with each other weeks before our first guests arrive. They love what they do and return to work with us year after year. They are specialists in Alaska's natural history, they are great people to travel with and to get to know, and they'll inspire you with their enthusiasm. They'll guide your way to great adventuring.
Though not all of our guide staff is listed here, these are certainly representative of the excellent staff you'll find on all of our trips.
After receiving a B.A. in Art with an emphasis in photography from San Jose State University in 1993, Wayde fled to Alaska to hone his photographic skills. He spent a year documenting the lives of the Yup'ik people in the village of Eek, then two years assisting some of Anchorage's top photographers such as Clark James Mishler and Tom Bol whenever he had time to join them. He returned to California in 1998 to assist award-winning photographer Keith Sutter in Auburn, CA. He also worked for The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, CA for two and a half years shooting assignments and advertising images.
In 2004, he made the leap and started a full time career in photography and in the summer of 2006 returned to Alaska (a place he just can't get enough of). Wayde's been regularly published in numerous regional and national magazines, books, calendars, and maps including: National Geographic Maps, Alaska Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, Sonoma Magazine, California Tour and Travel, Sierra Heritage, Sierra Alive, Sierra Outdoor Recreation, The Sacramento Bee, The Milepost, and numerous county visitor's guides. In 2006, he was fortunate enough to spend much of the year photographing for Placer Grown, a non-profit organization formed to assist farmers and ranchers, in Placer County California; his photography assisted with their marketing produce and farm product efforts. One image ended up hanging in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento.
In 2007, Wayde began leading our Alaska Photo Journey. He finds guiding and sharing his knowledge of photography to be extremely rewarding and is looking forward to continuing on with AWA. His love for discovering new places and providing fresh looks for familiar ones has kept clients coming back again and again. You can view more of Wayde's photography on his website.
Nancy loves wildlife, wild places, and sharing her vast knowledge of these with others. Nancy holds a Master of Science degree in wildlife biology, and is a certified natural history interpretive guide and interpretive trainer by the National Association for Interpretation.
An Alaskan since 1978, Nancy has over 20 years experience as a wildlife biologist and natural history interpreter. She's traveled extensively in Alaska, and conducted field research on various bird and mammal species here, but she especially enjoys guiding and sharing her passion about Alaska with others. Although she arrived in Alaska as a "cheechako" (newcomer), her two children are proud "sourdoughs" having been born and raised here in Alaska.
Nancy completed her Masters thesis on moose in Denali National Park, and worked extensively on various species of loons during her past employment with state and federal wildlife agencies. She is also co-author of "A Guide to Wildlife Viewing in Alaska" as well as numerous other scientific and popular publications.
Her favorite recreational activities are watching wildlife, dip netting for salmon, hiking, skiing, berry picking, and partner dancing. Cha-cha anyone?
Elise has worked for Alaska Wildland Adventures for the last 13 years, sharing her love of Alaska with intrepid travelers. Field courses and a degree in Environmental Studies introduced her to the world of interpreting nature as a passion and profession. Since 1993, Elise has worked as a Naturalist, leading trips in the remote jungles of Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Ecuador, as well as less remote assignments in Hawaii and the Baja Peninsula.
There is nothing Elise enjoys more than incorporating biological, cultural, and historical information about an exotic corner of the world and sharing that with those seeking an ecological adventure. When she is not working or traveling, Elise resides near the entrance of Denali National Park.
Tommy was born in the Territory of Alaska and spent his summers on wilderness homesteads near Talkeetna and on the Kenai Peninsula. He went "outside" to college earning a degree in history but moved up to Girdwood 25 years ago with his sweetheart to raise a family. Tommy feels at home anywhere in Alaska.
Tommy is an artist and an educator: he established the Girdwood Fine Arts Camp in 1986 and taught kindergarten for 20 years. He also serves on the local town council and on the boards of several organizations.
He is an experienced guide and loves to show his guests the wonders of his home state. He draws from his knowledge of Alaska's nature and its people to create a connection to the places they will visit and to the people they will meet. Tommy is a born storyteller (and some of his stories are true!). He is eager to lead his guests on an Alaskan wilderness adventure.
Michelle is originally from Syracuse, New York but has most recently lived in West Yellowstone, Montana. She studied anthropology and Japanese at the University of Rochester before following her outdoors passions as a guide in Yellowstone and Alaska.
Her favorite memory of Alaska happened when she was hiking the Russian River with her family and came upon a big brown bear with a spring cub. The sow came within 15 feet of them, sniffed a bit, then dashed off the trail! A close second is hiking Summit Pass and waking up to a fabulous sunrise and caribou running past their camp. In her spare time, Michelle is an amateur photographer, and you can view her work here.
Even as a three-year-old, Julie knew she wanted to move to Alaska. In 2006, she was given her chance after she was awarded a grant to paddle the Inside Passage. Soon after her move to Alaska, she started guiding with Alaska Wildland Adventures. In the winter she works in Homer, Alaska with special education students at Homer Middle School while concurrently pursuing her teaching credentials.
Julie's previous wilderness experience includes teaching at the Yosemite Institute for many years and leading teenagers in Outdoor courses focusing on leadership in Oregon, British Columbia, and Maine.
In her free time, Julie enjoys fishing, hiking, skiing with her dog, Bear, and enjoying life in Alaska!