Leader Bios: Meet Donovan, Emily, Mark, Stella & Ben!

Donovan Fiore – Europe Coast to Coast

Donovan Fiore enjoys exercising creativity whenever possible and has accordingly picked up a unique set of hobbies. In addition to wood carving, wood burning, lamp building, painting, and singing, Donovan also plays the guitar, electric bass, banjo, piano, mandolin, ukulele, cajon, and harmonica – wow! Outdoors, Donovan enjoys running, hiking, and mountain biking. He has explored the outdoors of Kauai, Four Peaks in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, and the Everglades in Florida. Still, he hopes to someday travel to the black-sand beaches of Iceland and the Kangaroo Bay Wildlife Preserve in Australia. Donovan loves working with kids and young adults and has plenty experience serving in leadership roles: throughout high school, he was a leader in his school’s mentoring program and men’s choir, taught guitar to middle school students, and was the Varsity Captain of the Soccer and Track & Field Teams. Now a rising senior at Washington and Lee University pursuing a double major in Business Administration and Psychology, Donovan was WLU’s first sophomore Track & Field Captain, serves as a Resident Adviser, and leads Sunday Night Worship weekly. Last year, Donovan’s students loved biking alongside him as they made their way from Vermont to Montreal, and he looks forward to heading abroad to lead this year’s Europe Coast to Coast tour!

Emily Hoffman – Europe Coast to Coast

We’re delighted to welcome long-time Apogee veteran Emily Hoffman back to lead our Europe Coast to Coast trip this summer! Coming to us from the bustling streets of New York City, Emily is well-versed in all things Apogee. In addition to leading our Coast to Québec biking trips in 2016, Montana Service Adventure trips in 2017, and our America Coast to Coast trip last summer, Emily spent four summers with us as a student. She has volunteered her way across the Caribbean and bicycled in Cape Cod, Montana, and Europe. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Emily’s passion for the outdoors has truly blossomed. As a sophomore, she took part in SLU’s “Adirondack Semester,” a program that took her entirely off the grid for three months, foregoing technology and running water in exchange for a better understanding of how to live simply. Emily lived so simply, in fact, that her main form of transportation throughout the program was a canoe! Beyond her travels with Apogee, Emily has traveled to France, Italy, London, Guatemala, and Mexico. She even spent a semester studying environmental conservation in Kenya to complement her Environmental Sociology degree. Emily is also passionate about service, working with youth, and farming. During her senior year in high school, Emily traveled to Guatemala with the terrific “Safe Passage” organization and taught English and lacrosse to local students. Emily has been living along Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT for the past year, and just recently completed her first marathon. She can’t wait to revisit the Europe Coast to Coast itinerary she did as a student as she logs even more miles on her bicycle this summer!

Mark House – Europe Coast to Coast

Apogee is thrilled to welcome Michigan native Mark House back to the team this summer as a leader for Europe Coast to Coast and Maine Coast Junior trips! Though he grew up just outside of Detroit, Mark, his parents, and his four siblings were rarely stationary for long; they spent most summers road-tripping across the country, checking state after state off of their bucket list. Mark currently stands at 45 states in total! One of his family’s favorite spots was a ranch in Estes Park, Colorado. After it was badly damaged in a mudslide in 2015, Mark returned on a mission trip to clean up the ranch and surrounding area. Mark graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Over the past few years, Mark has pursued his passion for mechanical engineering, having worked for a firm to help design and build amusement park rides and for another company to build fuse boxes for electric vehicles. To expend some of his seemingly boundless energy, Mark has combined his love for basketball and spending time with kids. He worked as a basketball coach for a local program called Skills Unlimited and also served as a mentor for local Ann Arbor students who speak English as a second language. At Michigan, Mark worked as a tour guide and Campus Day Leader. Mark has traveled through Europe, backpacked on Isle Royal in Lake Superior, supported our Pacific Coast trips in 2017, and even put his Spanish skills to good use leading our Costa Rica Language & Service trips last summer. He can’t wait to return to Apogee for his third summer to adventure with students in Maine and abroad!

Stella Gardner – Europe Coast to Coast

Stella Gardner grew up in Missoula, Montana, where she and her two twin little sisters loved to pick huckleberries, go on overnight rafting trips, catch turtles in lakes, and perform campfire skits together. Passionate about the outdoors and curious about the world, Stella is a recent graduate of Colorado College where she studied political science and tutored English to refugees in Colorado Springs. When she wasn’t pondering immigration, global health, and education, Stella could be found out on the field hucking the ol’ disc (read, “playing ultimate frisbee”) or up on the slopes shredding the gnar (read, “skiing”). No stranger to the outdoors, Stella has gone backpacking in Colorado and Montana, biking through Utah, rafting in Arizona, and mountaineering on Mount Shasta. She spent a semester studying abroad in Valparaíso, Chile and even got to spend a whole month backpacking through Patagonia! Stella loves spending time and having fun with kids of all ages, and she used to organize neighborhood Ultimate Frisbee games for up to 30 kids weekly. She has also spent five months volunteering at an after-school program for 4-16 year-olds in a low-income neighborhood in Chile. We loved having Stella on our team to lead Maine Coast Junior and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains trips last year, and we know she’ll love biking across Europe as she leads this year’s Europe Coast to Coast trip!

Ben Campbell – Europe Coast to Coast Support

Growing up in Connecticut, returning leader Ben Campbell spent many of his summers vacationing on Cape Cod before his family moved to North Carolina ten years ago. After enjoying numerous east coast sunrises as our Cape Cod & the Islands leader two years ago, Ben took in some gorgeous west coast sunsets last summer as our Pacific Coast Support Staff! A dedicated Tarheel and recent graduate of The University of North Carolina, Ben now holds a degree in Communications/Entrepreneurship. When he wasn’t hitting the books, he could be found outside as a leader for the U.S. National Whitewater Program at UNC or, in previous summers, as a summer camp counselor at Camp Rockmont outside of Asheville, NC. Ben worked at Camp Rockmont for three summers, where he coordinated activities and backpacking trips for campers between ages eight and twelve. Ben’s passion for traveling and engaging with new communities has also led him farther afield than just the mountains of North Carolina – he’s also traveled to Honduras, where he spent time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Ben is not only an avid traveler and outdoorsman; he is also a frisbee whiz and once competed in a sponsored frisbee trick-shot group (his students should expect some seriously impressive stunts this summer)! The jury is still out on whether we’re more excited to welcome Ben back to the Apogee team or if he’s more excited to support our Europe Coast to Coast trips this summer – either way, he and his students are in for a treat!