Lodge and Program Managers
Our Lodge and Program Managers are the people on the scene at Alaska Wildland Adventures. These are the folks who make sure each and every experience you have with us is special and unique. This team is friendly, hardworking, and committed to providing you with the best Alaska Wildland Adventures has to offer.
John Beye, Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge Manager
John grew up exploring the lakes, forests and rivers of Wisconsin, but summer road trips to the Western U.S. as a kid quickly sparked a passion for life in the mountains. Amidst many adventures skiing, sea kayaking, backpacking and rock climbing, John earned a graduate certificate in Outdoor Education in Grand Teton National Park and completed his Master’s degree in Sustainable Tourism Management at Colorado State University. His true passion is exposing students of all ages to the wilderness in responsible and respectful ways. This career path has led him to South Africa, India, Norway, Seattle, Lake Tahoe and, of course, Alaska. After guiding for Alaska Wildland Adventures last summer, it became clear that one summer in The Last Frontier simply wasn’t enough. John couldn’t be more thrilled to spend another season in enchanted Aialik Bay at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge!
Kevin Blackwell, Kenai Backcountry Lodge Manager
Kevin is originally from Thomasville, North Carolina (also known as The Chair City). Now the Kenai Backcountry Lodge Manager, he has been guiding and managing for Alaska Wildland Adventures for nine summers and has spent winters in Utah, Antarctica, Nepal and Thailand. Kevin says, "I still remember the first morning I arrived in Alaska. It was barely 3 a.m. but the sun was up and the mountains were glowing. As I walked around town, I remember stopping sleepy-eyed and thinking, "What peculiar statues." When they started moving, I realized I had stumbled onto a cow moose and calf. I still feel the magic of that first morning every time I come back home to AWA for the summer."
Shawn O'Neal, Basecamp Manager
Shawn first arrived at Alaska Wildland Adventures for the 2011 season, hoping to find new opportunities for outdoor adventures in a wild and novel landscape. Having guided wilderness treks in the mountains and canyons of the Southwest, he decided to trade in slickrock mesas and brook trout for tidewater glaciers and king salmon. While all hopes and expectations of Alaska's grandeur were surpassed, the continued opportunity to be a part of a team that provides an unparalleled and immersive travel experience while honoring and empowering the individuals who strive to make that happen is the reason he has returned for seven seasons. Shawn has spent time exploring New Mexico, Oregon and his native Tennessee in between trips to the Last Frontier. When not at the Riverside Lodge, he might be found biking on a backcountry trail or floating his packraft down an Alaskan stream.
Raine Fryberger, Guided Journeys Program Manager
Hailing from Colorado, Raine joined Alaska Wildland Adventures in 2014. From a young age, she had the desire to travel and explore this fantastical world. Raine was officially bit by the travel bug after enrolling in and completing a study abroad program which took her around the world and changed her life and its direction forever. Instead of pursuing graphic design as originally planned, she dove head first into the world of travel and began guiding multi-day camping trips across the US and Canada. In 2013, she was assigned to guide in Alaska for a summer season and hasn't looked back since. Raine has served in several key roles for AWA, specializing in operations, logistics and management, and we're thrilled she's leading our guide team. In her free time, Raine enjoys painting, printmaking and discovering new hikes or natural hot springs to soak in.
Renee Ransbottom, Kenai Riverside Lodge Hospitality Manager
Renee grew up in Columbus, Ohio and is grateful to have developed a love for the outdoors through family trips to national parks. When she visited Alaska for the first time in 2011, she was a guest with Alaska Wildland Adventures. The minute she set foot in Alaska, saw the breathtaking scenery and interacted with the staff here, she knew it was a special place and that she had to come back. The next summer, she quit her job and found herself working for AWA in the Kenai Riverside Lodge office. She then spent a summer at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge as the Lodge Coordinator. In the off-season, she’s worked everywhere from Crystal Mountain, Washington to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Most recently, she spent a couple of years working at a luxury resort in Napa Valley. She is extremely excited to bring her hospitality experience to Kenai Riverside Lodge as the Hospitality Manager.
Michelle LeFever, Lodge Combination Coordinator
Michelle and her husband, Johnny Hughes, are originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Johnny owned a small construction company and she was a manager in a linens company as well as a server/bartender at a corner bistro. Even in Lancaster they spent as much time as they could in the outdoors, either fishing at their cabin on the Susquehanna River or driving to nearby states to satisfy their addiction to whitewater kayaking. About eight years ago, their adventures brought them to Alaska to visit friends living in Moose Pass, and the seed was planted. Shortly after arriving home from that vacation, they sold their business, quit their jobs, and set their sights north. They took their love for one another and the outdoors, purchased a 24-foot travel trailer, grabbed the dog, and headed up the Al-Can Highway to Seward, Alaska. Michelle joined the AWA family working as the office manager for Weather Permitting and Johnny traded his whitewater kayak for a sea kayak, guiding in Resurrection and Aialik Bays. Last year Michelle took the position of Lodge Combination Coordinator and Johnny is part of the AWA team, too, guiding guests to great fishing on the Kenai River. Michelle says, “Each year brings a chance to learn something new, see something completely breathtaking, make an incredible memory, discover a little more about ourselves and share our experiences with others in hopes that they will be as wowed and excited about Alaska as we are.”