Leader Bios 2023: Here are our Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Golden State Adventure, and Maine’s Downeast Explorer Leaders – Plus Our Summer Assistant Director!

This batch of Leader Bios marks the last, but most certainly not least group of folks rounding out our summer team. And we cover quite a bit of ground with this crew: a trio of folks leading both Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and Golden State Adventure, a duo leading Maine’s Downeast Explorer, and our Summer Assistant Director helping to hold down the fort in Brunswick!

Leader Name: Westen Doran (she/her)Colorado California Teen Hiking Trip Leader Westen Doran

2023 Trips: Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and Golden State Adventure

Prior Apogee Experience: Caribbean Service ‘22

Hometown: Wilmette, Illinois

School: University of Richmond, Class of 2023

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguard & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Biking, swimming, hiking, and climbing

Highlights of the past year: Westen went on a sunrise hike with friends at Humpback rocks!

Where you can find Westen when she’s not hanging out with her friends: She loves going for walks, crafting Spotify playlists for loved ones, and playing music. She has even taught herself how to play three different instruments!

What makes Westen even more wonderful: Westen’s love for music was perhaps destined from birth – she was named after a famous jazz musician! In past summers, she was the music director for a summer camp in Michigan where she coordinated daily activities for her students. At Richmond, Westen served as social media manager for the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, with whom she volunteered with local animal shelters and tutored students at nearby schools. Westen is excited to return to Apogee for another summer of adventure with her students!

Colorado California Teen Hiking Trip Leader Ryan McKeownLeader Name: Ryan McKeown (he/him)

2023 Trips: Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and Golden State Adventure

Hometown: Verona, New Jersey

School: University of Vermont, Class of 2023

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguard & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Mountain biking, hiking, and backcountry skiing

Highlights of the past year: Ryan went backpacking in New Zealand during his winter break!

Where you can find Ryan when he’s not mountain biking in the Vermont woods: Likely, in a laboratory! He majored in environmental engineering at UVM, and he plans to go to graduate school in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. Ryan also loves to paint animals – in fact, he almost exclusively paints animals!

Other reasons Ryan rocks: He always loves learning new things. During Covid, Ryan dedicated himself to learning how to ride a unicycle, and he now owns one of his own (with hydraulic disc brakes!). He also taught himself how to fix up his car by watching Youtube videos, despite having no prior experience! Ryan loves leading groups and imparting knowledge to others, too. Some of his past experiences include leading introduction to mountain biking trips and facilitating environmentally-conscious educational camp activities for the AmeriCorps DREAM Program.

Leader Name: Cat Bergland (she/her)Colorado California Teen Hiking Trip Leader Cat Berglund

2023 Trips: Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and Golden State Adventure

Hometown: Medfield, Massachusetts

School: Middlebury College, Class of 2026

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguard & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Hiking, kayaking, and cold water plunging!

Highlights of the past year: Cat has had quite an eventful year! She went on a road trip through all five national parks in Utah, started college, and learned how to skin and Nordic ski!

Where you can find Cat when she’s not adventuring and exploring Vermont: Going for a run or a walk, playing guitar, getting coffee with friends, playing with her dogs, or cozying up with a good book. Cat also loves to swim: she swam in the ocean during every single month of high school, and now she continues the same tradition at the local swimming hole at school in Vermont!

Other reasons Cat is a cool cat: Before she enrolled at Middlebury, Cat took a gap year during which she lived outside for 75 days straight! For the past few years, she worked as Head Counselor at the same summer camp in New Hampshire that she attended growing up – 2022 was her TENTH summer at camp!

Maine Teen Hiking Trip Leader Luke SchutteLeader Name: Luke Schutte (he/him)

2023 Trip: Maine’s Downeast Explorer

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

School: University of Virginia, Class of 2023

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguard & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Hiking, climbing, and mountain biking

Highlights of the past year: Luke went on a weeklong trip to Moab, Utah with the Outdoors Club at UVA!

Where you can find Luke when he isn’t adventuring in the Shenandoah Valley: Luke is passionate about sustainability and the environment, and for the past year he has worked with the UVA administration to sustainably map, develop, and maintain public-use nature trails in and around campus. If you have been in Charlottesville at any point in the past four years, you may have seen him zipping around on his bike – Luke says he biked to class every day of college! He also enjoys reading, cooking, and attending concerts.

Further proof that Luke is the bees knees: He loves playing bass guitar, and even played in a band while at UVA. Last summer Luke worked on a vegetable farm, where he learned and helped implement sustainable agricultural practices like beekeeping, mushroom inoculation, and transplanting. Luke loves teaching and sharing his passions with others, so he led beginner trips for the UVA Outdoors Club and taught things like rock climbing, responsible hiking, knot tying, and Leave No Trace principles.

Leader Name: Lucia Daranyi (she/her) Maine Teen Hiking Trip Leader Lucia Daranyi

2023 Trip: Maine’s Downeast Explorer

Hometown: Peak’s Island, Maine

School: Colorado College, Class of 2024

Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Skiing, hiking, trail running, and backpacking!

Highlights of the past year: Lucia went on a road trip to the Four Corners, with stops in national parks in all four states. (She says her favorite was Arizona, thanks to Sedona!)

Where you can find Lucia when she isn’t working or playing outside: Usually, knitting! Lucia also loves to read, drink tea with friends, and bake yummy treats (most recently, she’s been on a banana bread kick). 

Other facts about Lucia that will make you say, “Whoa, that’s so cool!”: Lucia is from Peak’s Island in Maine, which is a true island – so she grew up taking a boat to school every day! During quarantine, she camped out in her back yard for a month straight, just to spice things up a bit. Lucia recently worked as head leader of a day camp where she was responsible for planning and facilitating daily activities and tailoring itineraries to fit different groups’ needs. She also grew up as an Apogee student (Coast to Quebec, Alps Explorer, and Pyrenees Mountains & Coast!), and she is so excited to help lead trips and create memorable experiences in the outdoors for others!

Summer Teen Assistant Director Thea AslanianName: Thea Aslanian (she/her)

2023 Role: Summer Assistant Director

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

School: Bowdoin College, Class of 2023.5

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Downhill skiing, hiking, and backpacking

Highlights of the past year: Thea studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and was able to hike along portions of the Camino de Santiago!

Where you might find Thea when she’s not traveling or spending time outside: She loves to read, go for walks, cook meals with friends, babysit, and make pottery in her spare time. 

Terrific Thea Tidbits: She spent three winters in high school as a ski instructor, teaching students aged 3 to 18. Thea also worked as a Printmaking Teaching Assistant for a semester at Bowdoin, then designed and sold hand-printed cards to raise money to donate to The Farmlink Project. In the last few years, Thea has also worked for a Solar startup, a bakery in her hometown of Seattle, and at a ski mountain in Montana. She’s excited to expand her teaching horizons working for Apogee this summer!