Staff Bios

Please comment a short 1-2 paragraph synopsis of yourself! Comments should include: a recognizable photo, your background, your interests, your past experiences working with camp or youth, and 2 fun facts about yourself!

To put a photo in the comment, go to, and upload your photo. Once done, right click on the picture and select “Copy Image Location” and paste it in your comment. The photo will appear when you post it.



Iphone 2014-2015 526

Hello! My name is Melanie Hooper (known as “Raven Squirrel” at camp), and I am the Manager of Rural Alaska Program and School Age Programs here at Camp Fire Alaska. This summer we will be delivering 94 weeks of camp throughout the state of Alaska, and we can’t wait for the Rural Dream Team 2019 to arrive this May! I’ve been working with Camp Fire Alaska for the past 8 years, supporting our overnight camp, rural, and school age programs.
My love of the outdoors began as a child growing up on a small farm in Northeast Ohio. I graduated with my B.A. in Zoology and Anthropology from Ohio Wesleyan University where my studies focused on environmental conservation and indigenous peoples. My early experiences provided opportunities to work with youth and communities in Vietnam, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, but after university, I discovered camp and the unique environment which fosters opportunities for growth and change. I have spent the last 14 years working professionally in the camping industry, overseeing outdoor education, conferences and retreat, and summer camp programs.
Some fun things about me: I LOVE to garden, gather wild edibles, and have recently become a bee keeper. My husband, huskies, and I love to hike, pack raft, ski, fish, and pretty much spend as much time outside as we can. In the darker winter months, I can really get my crafting on, so enjoy this “hibernating” time of year in Alaska too!




My name is Stacie and I am the Rural Program Coordinator.  I am originally from Northern Utah. My undergrad is from Weber State University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Studies. I studied Recreation, Social Work and Health Promotion. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Counseling Psychology at Alaska Pacific University. I have worked in many social working and youth development organizations within diverse environments. I especially enjoy working with youth in outdoor settings.
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with friends and family, learning new hobbies or skills, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, backpacking, photography, reading, learning sustainable life skills, or simply being in the outdoors. I believe that nature is a powerful tool in education, physical and mental health and development in individuals of all ages and backgrounds. I have experienced many of these benefits in my own life and strive to share them with others.



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Hello hello! My name is Shaina and I am the Rural Specialist this year. I came to Camp Fire as a part of the 2018 Rural Team last summer and completely fell in love with the program, kiddos and communities. I am excited to join the Leadership Team and help support you all this summer! My roots are in the UK but grew up and spent most of my life in Wisconsin. I was home schooled until my freshman year of high school, so I would say I have a rather unique view of education and the endless ways there are to learn and grow. I graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Environmental Science and Communication Arts. Before Camp Fire I ran the UW Boathouse, guided for my university leading backpacking and canoeing trips, and traveled in and out of the country looking for the next cool adventure. Playing outside is definitely where my passion is and so much of the time we get with the kids in Rural is spent engaging with their environment.

Some fun facts about me: I spend most of my time outside of work cooking, exploring Alaska (there is a LOT to see), reading,  fixing my ever-breaking truck, or trying to get a rock out of my shoes every 5 minutes. In winter you can find me reading all those books I ignored in the summer, watching films, hiking (a.k.a. falling) and taking some long drives. I love plants and gardening and hope to get my own garden going this summer. Before moving to Alaska I had over 70 plants in my apartment… It was quite the jungle.

I’m excited to meet the 2019 Rural Dream Team and have an incredible summer with you all!



Hello everyone!

My name is Kailyn and I am the AmeriCorps member here at Camp Fire Alaska. Originally I am from Corbett, OR, which is a small rural town east of Portland. Recently, I received my BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art and I am currently continuing to develop my artistic practice. In the future, I hope to pursue my masters in art & social practice and/or art therapy.

As an interdisciplinary artist, my body of work explores my own state of being and becoming by reflecting on personal, familial, and geographical relationships. I am especially interested in exploring these ideas through process driven methodologies, as well as through tangible publications. In addition, I have begun to transition my practice to reflect these concepts through collaborative and participatory engagement to further connection within communities that I am a part of.

Along with creating art, I am passionate about equity in art education, the ethics of seeing, as well as neurodiversity. For hobbies, I enjoy hiking/backpacking, traveling, yoga, biking, skateboarding, thrifting, coffee/coffee shops, etc. I also love cooking food with other people to foster relationship.

Anyways, enough about me, I am really looking forward to meeting and getting to know you all!








35 thoughts on “Staff Bios

  1. Whoops! Maybe this pic link will work?


    Hey there friends,
    My name is Madison and I am very excited to be joining you all for the rural program this summer. I have lived in Wyoming my whole. In 2015 I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in American Studies focusing in sustainable food systems and development in African culture. Ever sense I graduated I have been traveling around the world (to South Africa, Namibia, Hawaii and Alaska) working on organic farms, for conservation programs and learning as much about agriculture and sustainable living as possible. Within the past year, I have changed my focus to the education side of things where I have been working with two year old kids in a local daycare here in Wyoming. I am very excited to incorporate what I have learned from my past years of travel to the Camp Fire rural program this summer.
    In my free time I like to be outside as much as I possibly can. In the winters, I like to ski, snowshoe and backpack as much as the winter seasons will allow me to. In the summers, I like to spend my time gardening, backpacking/camping, rafting, and hunting for native plants such as berries, medicinal plants and wild mushrooms.
    I am very excited to meet everyone and embark on the amazing adventures to come!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here is another photo because the first one is not the best! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi All!

    My name is Kyle Reiser and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Rural Team back in 2015 and have been looking to get back up ever since. I love working with kiddos and have found myself working in urban schools over the last 8 years. I am a licensed social worker and especially love working with young people out in nature. You can often find me on a run or on a hike! I also love to play basketball and to write letters—looking forward to getting some mail out this summer. There are many facts about me and two fun ones are that I have a twin sister and that I finished 3rd at the National Collegiate Chicken Wing Eating Contest. Pretty proud! Looking forward to meeting everyone and getting back to the Last Frontier!

    There is a link below with a picture–not really sure how to upload a picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Rural Staff!

    My name is Lewis Martin, I am from the village of Kwigillingok. I am so glad be be back and be a part of the team this year. I am a returning staff, I worked with the rural program, and I really enjoyed working with the kids. I am enrolled in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuksokwim Campus in Associate of Arts in General. My other major is Bacehlor’s of Arts in Elementary Education. I love to sing, love to play volleyball and basketball.

    During the summer, I love to go out berry picking in the tundra with my family, I also love to go swimming, and love to go on adventures. I have a lot more, but that is all I am going to say, and I look forward to meeting everyone.

    P.S. I used to join teen night with campfire in Kwigillingok. Sure enjoyed all the activities.

    Below is the link of my photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This photo was on our way to Denali for the weekend last year!


    2. Heidi Joy Roberts March 11, 2019 — 4:49 am

      Lewis! I love that you work for Campfire! You have the best energy for it! I was in Kwig 5 years ago and am coming back this year! Looking forward to hearing where life took you!


  5. Hello all! My name is Kelsey and I was part of the 2018 Campfire team! I loved these communities so much and am so happy to return again this summer! I graduated ASU with a degree in secondary education:history in 2014 and have had the opportunity to work in South Korea, a cruise ship, and now New Zealand. I love to travel and find an adventure. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!


  6. Mangwanani ‘Man gwa na nee’

    That is Good Morning in Shona, a secondary language of Zimbabwe. I love to travel!

    Currently living in Indiana for the past four years, I had lived and worked mostly in the Mat-Su Valley for over 20 years enjoying everything Alaska has to offer including fishing, kayaking, snow machining, hiking and backpacking, and exploring the diverse regions of Alaska. Still an avid outdoors woman, I am a weaver, enjoy yoga, and gardening.

    Working in health care, primarily home health, hospice and senior programs, I am looking forward to learning and expanding my experiences through Campfire. Excited to meet everyone!


  7. Hi friends, I’m Paige. This will be my third (consecutive) summer with Camp Fire and I’m ready for another great season!
    I graduated from Ball State University in Indiana in December with a degree in Natural Resources. Last year I was able to collect some soil samples with the kids and teach them about the different textures and about the microorganisms that help their food grow. I am actually looking to move to Alaska either right before or after this season.
    Let’s have some more fun this year!


    1. [IMG][/IMG]


    2. Okay so idk how this photo upload thing goes (I’ve never successfully done it) but I’m going to try

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Posting for Chief:

    Hey Alaska Camp Fire Family!
    I am Chief and Summer Camp, Outdoors, and Kids are my skills. When I was 18, I worked at summer camp–took a Grey Hound Bus all the way from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh. It was there, the Camp-Bug bit me. I did not realize the great impact it had on me yet. I decided to go “one more time,” as the following year–might be “the last.” I volunteered next to work with kids with disabilities in Rhode Island as a Camp Counselor. It did not stop there…Camp Fire, San Gabriel, CA needed counselors–I lived for the summers in the mountains, sleeping on a cot outside the cabin, listening to the creek’s rumbling music, hiking, campfires, and fun.
    I spend a year with Orange County Outdoor School, California working at the four sites as a cabin leader, conservation educator, night hiker, star gazer, country dancer, and explorer. It was one of the most defining years of my life—I belonged to outdoor education and children.
    Alaska is near and dear to me as is my home…I worked at Camp Kushtaka as a counselor, when we had old, military cabins, 13 girls and me, on the Kena’i. When the sauna at Camp K burned down, I donated $ for the rebuild and helped clear land for the new sauna–I spent many hours in the sauna, as I was the “Sauna Queen/Monitor.” When work-weekends were enlisted, I was in the forest, cutting down logs, clearing brush, making paths, and keeping gallons of milk cold in the creek. (We did not have refrigeration). When Camp Si-La-Meo was at the Fort Richardson Instillation, I rode my bicycle from Mountain View every morning to the Army Base (one hour, one way on the bike) to lifeguard. When the Rover Travel Team was in full force, I directed and travelled with two other staff, bringing camp to kids in small towns (Fairbanks, Seward, Kena’i) and did activities in the parks. I have travelled from Alaska to the Lower 48 to work at camps; I have travelled from the Lower 48 to work at Alaskan Camps. After an absence of many years, I returned to work in the Alaska Rural Programs –Chevak, Chuathbaluk, Crooked Creek, and Saint Mary’s. It has been five years since my last summer in Alaska, and after spending the last two summers at the YMCA Camp Erdman, Honolulu, Hawai’i, I am thrilled to return “home” for another round.
    Interests: Biking, Hiking, Reading, Chatting, Teaching, Dancing, Playing, Cooking…I love animals, especially my Brindle Pit Bull-Chihuahua mix Luni-Belle. I love to dress up and I always wear sneakers/tennis shoes. I am “international” and the world is my backyard, waiting to be explored. I don’t know a stranger, and I love life.
    Fun Facts: I still ride the bicycle that I bought in Alaska in 1984, that I rode to work as a Freelance American Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf in Anchorage.
    I graduated from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in Elementary Education, with certifications in Regular and Special Education, K-8th grades, a LONG time ago.


  9. Hey hey!

    My name is Porter and I’m from Macon, Georgia. I am currently studying International Affairs at the University of Georgia with minors in Spanish and Russian. I have a passion for working with children. Over the past five years, I have traveled to Mexico, working with kids there. I love different cultures and my time working with children has shaped me as a person.

    I am a huge people person, and enjoy reading and learning as well. I am always down for a book suggestion. In my free time, you can find me on a run or swim. I especially love the outdoors, and am game for any adventure.

    The rural program is a dream come true and I can’t wait experience Alaska (and cooler temperatures). I look forward to meeting all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heidi Joy Roberts March 11, 2019 — 4:51 am

      Chief! I’m coming back too! Can’t wait to see you!


      1. HEIDI! Wow…Only with Alaska Camp Fire, could such an incredible thing happen. Can’t wait to see you again! Love, Chief


  10. I’m Heidi Joy Roberts from Minot, North Dakota. I’m a School Counselor and worked for the Rural Program in the Summer of 2014. I moved to Anchorage after graduating from the University of North Dakota in 2006 until my acceptance into graduate school at North Dakota State University the next year. It was a fast year and I wasn’t ready to leave. I’ve been back several times to visit and explore the GreatLand! I love to travel and meet knew people!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Vanessa Padilla March 11, 2019 — 11:14 pm

    Hey friends!
    My name is Vanessa Padilla, I was born and raised in the central valley of California in what we consider a cow town. After high school, I joined Americorps NCCC in the southern region, which inspired my choice in major, environmental science. I am currently going to school trying to get all of my general ed out of the way. This will be my first experience with Camp Fire Alaska, and I could not be more excited nor grateful for the opportunity.
    When I’m not working or at school, I really enjoy day hikes or just being outdoors in general. I’m really looking forward to the new environment rural has to offer landscape and people wise. I hope to learn about the culture of the villages and I’m super excited to be working with youth!!

    Here is the link to my picture… I hope

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Monicah Paquette March 12, 2019 — 2:27 pm

    Hi All!
    My name is Monicah Paquette and I am excited to say that this is my first summer with Camp Fire AK, but not my first time in AK. I am from Waterville, Maine and I am going to graduate from the University of Maine at Farmington on May 11th with a degree in Rehabilitation Services with an interest in outdoor adventure therapy and recreational therapy. One day I hope to have an assisted animal therapy farm. I have all sorts of experience with youth and in different settings. I have worked in summer camps, schools, residential programs, and sports settings with you of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. I find joy in reading, being outside, painting, and being with animals. Dogs and are my favorite animals. This summer you will probably catch me singing and dancing because life is too short not too! I am excited to meet all of you and I am ready to have a great summer!

    I tried to upload a picture….but I do not think I did it successfully and I apologize!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Everyone!

    My name is Ronni’ Ragan and I am from Saint Augustine, Florida. I currently reside in Naples, Florida with my three-year-old mutt, Saké. I graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor’s degree in English, but fell in love with the idea of teaching. I teach seventh grade Language Arts and enjoy helping my students find joy in reading and voicing themselves through their writing. If I’m not grading papers, you can find me kayaking, golfing, or exploring Naples. I am looking forward to this new adventure with Camp Fire and meet everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello Everyone,

    My name is Faren Myre. I currently live in Mtn. Village, Alaska. I am a recent high school graduate and will be attending UAA in the fall for my BA in Nursing. Throughout high school, I had many babysitting jobs for multiple families in the community and took up tutoring during the school year to continue having a connection with the youth of my community. I enjoy drawing, painting and anything with the concept of art. I love learning new things and getting to know people of all different cultures. FUN FACT: I am a first generation college student.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sharolynn zackar March 26, 2019 — 9:17 pm

    Hey humans
    My name is Sharolynn Zackar. My yupik name is Mingqista, meaning one who sews. I am from Igiugig. Alaska. Igiugig meaning throat or something that swallows because we are located on the mouth of kvickak river. I love the water and anything to do with the outdoors. Except mosquitoes, but that can not be helped haha. I wanted to join camp fire to learn about each villages different cultures. This will be my first year with camp fire and I am excited to meet you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. [IMG][/IMG] I don’t know if this will work but here is my picture. The fist one didn’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. CodiAnne Corpening April 1, 2019 — 3:34 am

    Greetings fellow adventurers! My name is CodiAnne, I am originally from Wyoming but have loved in Colorado for 3 years. I am so excited to be joining the rural team again this summer. I was apart of campfire last summer and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. To intimately learn about the vast culture and work side by side with community members is truly a special, unique and life-changing experience. This summer, I’ll be working in 1 community for the month of July, so most of you I will meet at close-out!
    I have a passion for working with children. The fact that I have the power to influence and inspire a person in their beginning stages of life is something I take seriously and always bring my best effort and attitude. With that all being said, I have an Elem. Ed. degree. I taught 4th grade full-time in Riverton, WY. Riverton is nestled between Arapaho and Shoshone indian reservations, which was my favorite part about teaching here! Amazing and powerful culture! I have taken a couple of years off from teaching (I started when I was 22) in order to have other experiences. I have been able to travel to different parts of the world.I am getting ready to travel to India in 3 weeks where I’ll be doing a few Himalayan treks. My goal is to get back into full time teaching within the next year or 2.
    I have a lot of interests: travelling, yoga, meditation, nutrition, mycology, backpacking, sustainability, and flyfishing to name a few.. 🙂
    2 fun facts: 1. My sister and I have the same bday but we’re not twins! I was born during her 7th bday party. 2. Fall 2019 I’ll be doing the Mt. Everist base camp trek.
    Let’s get ready for a wild, fun, and influential summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi friends! My name is Josie and this will be my first summer with Camp Fire! This will also be my first time in Alaska and I am super excited to explore and learn about this great state and its people.

    I work with teens, in Cincinnati, Ohio, teaching life skills and such. I’m super passionate about environmental education and I’m happiest when I’m working outside with kiddos. Garden-based education is my jam. I’m a licensed educator but I have yet to find a school setting that I feel in tune with. I worked at a summer camp in California right after college and it was one of my favorite summers! Definitively looking forward to Camp Fire 🙂

    Outside of work, I also love playing in the woods and gardening . I am an introvert and while I love meeting new people and hanging out with friends I’m also quite happy curled up with a book, some sudoku or doing yoga in my living room. I love to cook and I’m excited to get creative with our cooking supplies this summer!

    Facts about me: #1 – I love gardening outside but I’m REALLY good at killing house plants. #2 – I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years (which mostly just makes me feel old, ha!)

    Can’t wait to meet everybody!!!

    (my computer is old and cranky and not cooperating – picture coming soon)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My name is Tom! This will be my 3rd summer doing the Rural Program, my 4th summer with Camp Fire, and something like 8th summer working in camps. I’ve spent the past year living in Alaska working with Camp Fire’s school aged program, but I am originally from Detroit, Michigan. I enjoy most things outdoors, and if it involves water I usually like it a bit more. I have a pup named Chev, (who you will all certainly meet at some point) and spend most of my time with him. We love road trips and car camping most of all.
    Fun fact #1 I really hate fun facts.
    Fun fact #2 Fun fact #1 is always my fun fact because I never know what else to put…
    I am eagerly awaiting May 20th! I can’t wait to get this summer under way and to meet everyone!
    See you all soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Taylor Strelevitz May 1, 2019 — 3:40 am

    Hi all! My name is Taylor. Just a week ago I moved to Anchorage from Phoenix, AZ. I’m still adjusting to snow covered mountains and temperatures below 65. In Arizona I worked for the Center for Indian Education with a group of grandmothers from the Gila River Indian Community who were getting their masters in Indigenous Education. For their final project they developed a culture and language camp. I helped support these women with everything from developing an immersion curriculum to ordering enough chumuth and stew. I absolutely loved this opportunity and feel so grateful to have been invited to be apart of something so critical to cultural survival. I wanted to work with Camp Fire to continue to expand my work and experiences with language and culture revitalization. I love working with kids and families. I love to learn new ways of living and raising children. I have so much to learn and am ready for the task.

    Fun fact: I just got engaged and right after popping the question told my fiance I may be leaving her for two whole months in our new home with our crazy dogs! She is amazing.
    Fun fact: I drove from Phoenix to Anchorage in 8 days.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hello! My name is Grace. I am from just outside of Philadelphia, PA and graduated from Penn State University yesterday with a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. I have never been to Alaska before, so I am very much looking forward to my first summer with Camp Fire! I love to learn about different ways of life, languages, and building connections with diverse communities through sport. My experience working with youth includes: being a teachers’ aide at a school for students with learning disabilities; coaching ice hockey at a non-profit serving children that would otherwise not have the opportunity to play; teaching outdoor education to middle schoolers; and mentoring incoming college freshmen. One fun fact about me is that I find four leaf clovers all the time, and another is that I can drive a Zamboni. Looking forward to meeting you all in a couple weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your presence in Chevak was quite adored. Enjoy your winter!


  22. John Paul Martinez May 7, 2019 — 9:27 pm

    Hi there everyone! My name is John Paul (though you can also call me “JP”) and I’m from the happy isthmus of Madison, WI. I graduated from UW—Madison with a BA in Linguistics and a Certificate in French. I’ve worked/participated in many outdoor-geared activities throughout my life: I was part of the staff at UW’s lakefront recreation center, led trips with the Outdoor Club, guided for the University’s outdoor freshman orientation program, and have also been a youth swim instructor. A few fun facts about me: I’m wildly passionate about languages and have analyzed over fifty different ones throughout my undergrad studies. I have also lived in three different countries.

    Excited to meet y’all so soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi everyone!
    I am so excited for this opportunity to work with children all summer in remote beautiful places and communities. I am a rising senior at Wellesley College majoring in biological sciences. I spent last fall at sea doing oceanographic research while living on a tall ship in New Zealand waters. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about isolated yet crowded life (living on a 300 ft “island” with 32 people). January 2018, I was in Nicaragua teaching kids in rural communities about prevention of public health issues. This past summer, I lived in Ghana and taught science in public elementary and middle schools using STEMKits. I am a co-director of STEMKit which is a start up here in Massachusetts. I work with my team to create self contained STEM education resources that promote equal access to quality STEM education. I hope to test out our newest kits this summer in rural AK. This summer we are serving over 3000 students in 4 different countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Germany and the U.S.A. Although I can’t wait to teach, I am so excited to visit these communities and learn. I expect to know nothing and learn more than I could ever imagine. I hope to find a team that is ready to take on this amazing and enriching experience with me.
    Two fun facts about me are:
    1) I have traveled to every continent except Antarctica (I am counting NZ as part of Australia and the 24 hours I spent in the Hong Kong airport as Asia haha!)
    2) I bet if I could win one competition it would be…Worst Cooks in America.


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