Outdoor Trip Leaders

Guides answered the following questions after their bio: When did you know that you wanted to take people into the outdoors as a guide? What is your favorite thing about guiding for Center Activities/ HBAC? If you could be any aquatic animal what would it be and why?

RILEY FOSTER
After working for the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center and Center Activities, I knew I wanted to guide. What made me want to guide was my love of teaching people new things, and seeing the looks on their faces when they get their “A-HA” moment. Another big thing for me is working with kids during our summer trips, because they are always awesome to work with and I love teaching them new, life-long skills and watching their growth. I also love taking people from the Humboldt area, and showing them parts of the county that they have never seen before, as well as showing new students how awesome the county I grew up in is.    

"If I could be any aquatic creature it would have to be the Cuttlefish because they’re super cool and can change colors and camouflage and can zip around the water super-fast. Also they aren’t fish at all and have their own unique shell."


CAROLINE RISTUCCIA
Hey everyone! I am a Wildlife Biology major with hopes of becoming a teacher. I love the little things and learning about all the small natural processes hidden in plants, animals, and the earth that make everything around us work. My love for the outdoors started early on. I grew up in a small town near Mount Shasta, and spend as much time as I can hiking, kayaking, and exploring. I am a high jumper on the track team here at Humboldt and am looking forward to our upcoming travel season.

"If I were an aquatic animal I think I would be a penguin, because I have always had fun sledding, and sliding around on your tummy seems like a great way to get places."   


https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/hjclvXj7TqlxMqQ-mccyODHE7CmWkBFN1MyJh-9uCsWXRzws-06EvCnYmzSQsh0h_KyMAGNf_fGlmJrCvRHnIZNwaUq9gxmPrMXxGxMWYdBJyC2-lyMkTbxYleM-hwOSc7HWi8FTJACK MEZERA
Ever since I started rafting three years ago, I just can’t seem to get myself to do anything else. To me, there is no better way to spend a summer than to take people out on the river, and give them the time of their life. It’s a very humbling experience to show people the beauty of the rivers. The majority of my guests have never been on the water, and after our trip, I see those families and friends coming back year after year for another adventure.

I am Swiftwater Rescue trained, and I consider it my responsibility to demonstrate how to safely have fun on the water, and most importantly to have respect for the power of the rivers. My goal is to offer a safe trip for everyone, and teach how to be safe around this amazing waterway. So far I've guided on the North, South, and Middle fork of the American River, and the Trinity River as well. I hope to keep adding to this list as often as possible. 

"I would be an Octopus because my hair looks like one."


FRANZE SLATE SHIMEK
Hi, my name is Franz and I have been with Center Activities since July of 2017. I guide all sorts of things including surfing, sailing, backpacking, flatwater kayaking and SUP! I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and being outside has always been the biggest part of my life. I grew up skiing in Tahoe, and competed in freeskiing all across the west coast! Now that I’m in Humboldt, I spend most of my time surfing and fly fishing on our beautiful rivers. I study Recreation Administration at HSU with an emphasis in Outdoor Adventure.

 
 

"If I was an aquatic animal I would be a steelhead trout because they're pretty much the coolest animal on the planet."
 


AARON FRY
My name is Aaron Fry and I have been working at Center Activities since September 2018. I have lead multiple sailing and surfing trips, and I am looking forward to being able to lead plenty of other activities in the future! For fun I love to surf, snowboard, play guitar and countless other outdoor activities! My favorite part about guiding for Center Activities, is seeing how happy participants are when they stand up on a surfboard for the first time, or catch a huge gust of wind in a sail boat! I first started surfing when I came to Humboldt 3 years ago. The first time I rode the face of a wave I was hooked instantly and have been getting pitted ever since. I am in my fourth year studying Ecological Restoration at HSU, and absolutely love this area! 

 
"If I could be any marine animal I would be a dolphin because they are so intelligent, graceful and really know how to have a good time with their friends"  
 
MICHELLE KUNST
I realized I wanted to be a guide when I was 16 and got a job at the kayak company in my hometown. I could explore my home from a totally new perspective and then I got to share the wonder with others.

My favorite part about working as a guide for Center is that I am constantly learning new things about the nature and history that surrounds us in Humboldt and then I have the chance to teach others in hopes of sparking new interests and inspirations.

“If I could be any aquatic animal, obviously I would be a nudibranch because they are just the coolest creatures and I would be able to roam the oceans and bays as a tiny, colorful, predatory sea slug.”

JULIE STEWART 

I wanted to be a guide as soon as I realized you didn't have to be a mount Everest climber in order to be skilled and safe outdoors. I acquired my Wilderness First Responder skills along with lifeguarding through other jobs, then when Center Activities came along with an opportunity to guide kids and adults alike, I jumped on it!

My favorite part about working for Center Activities is seeing the impact of being outside doing something "scary", like surfing for the first time or getting in to a kayak, can have on a participant. It is seriously eye-opening and empowering, and I love that I can help people achieve that feeling!

"If I were an aquatic animal, I would be a Sea Lion. Sea Lions are nimble in the water, but then get to lounge in the sun and relax with friends, right up my alley!”
LARRY BUWALDA 
Larry has actively paddled, taught and guided kayak and canoe for over 40 years. His product knowledge comes in part as a paddlesport retailer in Arcata, California. For ten years Larry has been certified as a kayak instructor by the American Canoe Association and is now certified as Coastal Kayaking Open Water Instructor.

Larry enjoys teaching at Center Activities because it fits in with his desire to connect people with the outdoors. The programs that Center Activities has to offer enable students and community members alike an opportunity to discover and learn an outdoor activity in a safe but fun way.

In addition to paddling and teaching classes through the Center Activities and Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, Larry has been involved in organizing many local events including the Humboldt Bay Paddlefest, Six Rivers Paddling Club, Banff Mt Film Festival, Humboldt Tri Kids and participated on the Board of Explore North Coast paddling club.

“Now, if I could be any aquatic animal I would be a River Otter. Sleek, graceful and playful, I would swim, dive and play in both marine and freshwater environments.”

SCOTT HAGERTY
For me, the most exciting, enjoyable, challenging and memorable times throughout my life have been when I was on, in, under, or near water.  For nearly 30 years I have been exploring all forms of water bodies in kayaks, canoes, rafts, and diving. Upon retirement in early 2017, it was obvious to me that guiding and instructing was a logical career move, and I have been so thankful since then to be part of the Center Activities program.  

"My revered aquatic critter is the mighty Chinook salmon: from a small fry growing up in a beautiful mountain stream; navigating many miles of rapids while migrating out to the Pacific Ocean; thousands of miles and years of saltwater “schooling”; then migrating in reverse order back home for one last river trip before dying a happy fish!" 



TRAVIS BURNHAM
My love of rivers drew me into whitewater rafting on the Black River while stationed with the Army's 10th Mountain Division in northern New York back in 2003. After my first river run I was hooked and have been guiding every season since.

My favorite part of guiding for Center Activities is sharing my love of the outdoors with enthusiastic students and working with a great community of experienced guides.


“If I could be any aquatic animal, I would definitely be an otter because they spend their entire lives playing in the water and eating seafood. What's better than that?”

ERIC HALL
I started guiding sailing programs when I was 15. It wasn't till I was in my 20's that I realized..."Hey, I'm an adventure guide, and how long can I keep this going." Its been 20 years since then, and it is still one of my favorite jobs. Though guiding was never in my "life plan", the Universe made this more than apparent for me. I have a skill that needs to be shared with world
I like working for Center because it offers a wide variety of guiding opportunities, including aquatic and land based trips. I get the unique opportunity to be an aquatic guide in sailboats and kayaks, to hiking and rock climbing. The variety is my favorite part.

"I would be a jellyfish because I like to go with the flow, or a kraken. I feel the kraken is highly misunderstood sea creature"

STEVE SMITH
I am a sea kayaking guide for Center Activities.  I was first introduced to kayaking when I took a beginning Sea Kayaking class through Center Activities class in 2002; I knew within in minutes that I was going to love this sport. Since that time, I've taken at least a dozen training courses, built four sew-and-stitch wooden kayaks and one skin-on-frame kayak and a couple dozen Greenland- style paddles. My wife and I have done a couple of 10+ day expedition trips in our kayaks in the waters off of Vancouver Island.

In addition to sea kayaking, I have a life long passion for teaching (I am a retired educator). Working for Center Activities has allowed me continue my passion for teaching and share my enthusiasm for kayaking. I am always excited when I have an opportunity to introduce folks to kayaking for the first time. My hope, always, is that they, too, will be as excited as I was the first time I sat in a kayak!

“Someone once asked me what kind of an aquatic animal I'd like to be. That's an easy one: I'd be a river otter. They are equally at home on land and in the water (including the ocean) and they are always having fun!”

MIKE ZEPPEGNO
I am a Certified ACA Level 4 Open Coastal Kayak Instructor. I knew I wanted to be a guide when I completed my first ACA Certification course in 2005. I have three favorite things about my role at Center Activities.  The first is the opportunity to get people out on the water that have never been in a kayak. Sharing in their “Aha Moment’’ of being on the water is priceless. I also feel we are increasing their awareness of the environment. The second thing for someone of my age is the amazing gift of being able to work with the younger members of the Center Activities Team. I have learned so much from them in our cross generational exchanges. The third thing is the opportunity to work at Center Activities the last three years has honed my guiding skills.  

“If I could be any aquatic animal it would be an Orca. I have been able to see these wonderful creatures while kayaking and am just in awe of their beauty, grace, and power.”

MATT KURTH
I began guiding outdoor trips in in 2004. I have guided for Center Activities since 2013.  My specialty is whitewater rafting but I also love to guide backpacking, sea kayaking, canoe and stand up paddle board among other things. I started my career in the outdoors by moving from Southern California to the tiny town of Quincy to study Outdoor Recreation Leadership. I had only experienced car camping before that. Now with a Bachelor's Degree in Recreation Administration and more than a decade of leadership experience my favorite part of guiding is introducing less experienced people to the outdoors. I believe that the outdoors are accessible to everyone and I really enjoy helping people overcome their perceived barriers to experiencing nature. Take the plunge! Come rafting or backpacking with me and I'll show you just how easy it can be!

“If I could be an aquatic animal I would be an American Dipper. The Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, is North America's only aquatic songbird. They live in the rapids of western rivers and hunt snails along the bottom of whitewater sections. They build nests in the middle of roaring cascades, never stray more than a few feet from the water, and only move downstream when the river freezes solid.”

 
CULLEN GROOM has been shredding with Center Activities since the spring of 2015. It was here, he found the radness of Humboldt's Counties beautiful rivers, mountains, and ocean. Cullen spends as much time as he can whitewater rafting, sleeping under the stars, or getting salty in the sea.

I first realized I wanted to guide people in the outdoors when I went on my first whitewater rafting trip on the Trinity River. Rafting reminded me of team sports I played when I was younger. It was awesome to work together with a group of people you barely knew to experience something so fun and exhilarating.

My favorite thing about guiding for Center Activities and HBAC is introducing people to new adventures and showing them the terrific recreational opportunities Humboldt County has to offer.
If I could be any aquatic animal, I would be a flying fish. I can't imagine what it would be like to glide through the water as quick as a fish, but also be able to fly. It would be like having two super powers.


MARCELLA OGATA-DAY has been a kayaking guide for the HBAC since January of 2015 and just recently joined Center Activities as the Community Outreach Coordinator. She discovered kayaking joy in 2006 after being invited to go river boating on the Smith River and later sea kayaking in Trinidad. Marcella is also a graphic designer and has worked in this field which includes publishing and marketing for over 16 years.
 
I wanted to try guiding when the opportunity arose with the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center. I took a certification to teach sea kayaking and wished to help people realize they can explore the outdoors in a way they may not have thought probable.

My favorite part of guiding at HBAC is watching people’s wonderment at their first time paddling on the water and their individual ways of adapting to the boat they are in.

If I could be any aquatic animal, maybe an orca. Documentaries show how amazing, beautiful, powerful and complex they are and to see the world through their senses would be special.
SANDY HAUX has participated in outdoor activities all of her life and she jumped at the opportunity offered two years ago to be a guide.She loves to take folks out and share the beauty and magnificence of the great outdoors with them. Her favorite thing about guiding for Center Activities/HBAC is the joy of sharing outdoor activities with people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life.

If she could be any aquatic animal, it would be a river otter because they have so much fun in the water and with each other.
 

EVENTS

This challenging 80-hour course is designed to provide outdoor leaders, instructors, guides,...
January 9 - 18, 2019
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January 20
The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) provides basic life support care to critically ill or...
January 22 - May 14
One adventure was not enough for us, so we decided to combine them all! Join us for a fun filled...
January 26