Leader Bios! Meet Emma, Todd, Olivia, and Henry!

Did you know that the earliest redwoods appeared on Earth shortly after dinosaurs did? Or that while redwoods can grow to be 300 feet or taller, their root systems run only six to twelve feet deep? Did you know that the Sierra Nevada mountain range extends 400 miles in length?

This summer, six groups of lucky Apogee students will get to explore all that California’s stunning mountains and coast have to offer as they sea kayak Point Reyes’ Tomales Bay, hike among old-growth redwoods, backpack in Yosemite National Park, and surf Santa Cruz’s famous beaches together. Leading them will be four fabulous new and returning leaders. Here’s to this year’s California Mountains & Coast crew!

Emma Westwater – California Mountains & Coast

Emma Westwater is no stranger to Apogee, having spent two summers as a student on Maine’s Downeast Explorer and Maine Coast College Essay trips, and most recently as a leader last summer on Caribbean Service! A self-described Latin America buff, Emma has immersed herself in the culture through five trips to Ecuador (where she also lived for a year when she was ten), visits to Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, and Puerto Rico. To add to her time in South America, Emma is wrapping up a semester abroad in Valparaiso, Chile and has taken advantage of her beautiful surroundings by running, hiking, camping, and even mountain biking in the Atacama Desert! While traveling throughout Latin America, Emma has engaged in a significant amount of community service work; she has worked on painting and refurbishing projects and also volunteered as a tutor for elementary and middle school students. Based on her extracurricular interests, it comes as no surprise that, as a rising senior at Bates College, Emma is studying Latin American Politics, Spanish, and Education. When she isn’t in the classroom, Emma tutors and runs a community outreach program coordinating after-school programs for local public schools in Lewiston. In her spare time, Emma loves to run, cross country ski, and swim. Two summers ago in her home state of Massachusetts, Emma swam across Walden Pond every day! Emma is looking forward adding yet another trip to her Apogee resume when she heads west to explore the Golden State on California Mountains & Coast!

Todd Johnson – California Mountains & Coast

Massachusetts native Todd Johnson has been a fan of the outdoors from a young age. Whether hiking, biking, or skiing with his tight-knit family, Todd and his sister were taught to appreciate and protect wild places as they grew up, instilling a love of adventure that only continued to blossom throughout his life. From backpacking during a semester at the High Mountain Institute, to summiting a 19,000-foot volcano in Peru, to solo backpacking through Britain, France, and Spain, Todd is not afraid to venture beyond his comfort zone. He has enjoyed sharing his outdoor expertise with kids as a summer sailing instructor for eight- to sixteen-year-olds over the last four years and as a ski instructor at the Jackson Hole Mountain Sports School. A rising junior at Carleton College, Todd is involved in an eclectic list of campus organizations: he drums in Carleton’s top jazz combo and plays in an alternative rock band called “The Russell Sprouts,” leaves inhibition behind as a member of the no-experience-required dance troupe “Synchrony,” and also finds time to be a very active member of the outdoor club Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts (CANOE). Todd leads trips for CANOE in addition to serving on their leadership team, where he nobily holds the title of “Climbing Czar.” If that wasn’t enough to keep him totally booked, Todd also makes time to tutor students at the Carleton Writing Center, demonstrating the breadth of academic strengths this math major touts. A true jack-of-all-trades, Todd is excited to put his lengthy experience backpacking, working with kids, and enjoying sunsets to use as he leads our California Mountains & Coast trips this summer!

Olivia Sackler – California Mountains & Coast

Olivia Sackler’s passion for the outdoors runs deep; she is an active hiker, biker, sailor, snorkeler, and conservationist! A soon-to-be graduate of the College of Charleston, Olivia is a Geology major with a focus in Environmental Geology, and her field studies have brought her to the Galapagos Islands, South Africa, and even an eco-village outside Asheville, NC. Beyond her travels with the Geology Department, Olivia has spent summers traveling since she was twelve. She has hiked all over New England – both in her younger years and as a leader on last summer’s New England Mountains & Coast and Maine Coast Junior trips – backpacked through Yellowstone, biked from Seattle to San Francisco, sailed from Saint Martin to Trinidad, and done community service while hiking through Fiji. Olivia takes great pleasure in sharing outdoor experiences with others, something she has done both as a camp counselor for Trailside Nature Camp in Westchester, NY and as a pre-orientation trip leader at the College of Charleston. As a camp counselor, Olivia has taught wilderness survival skills, environmental education, and led overnight camping trips for young teenagers. While it may seem that Olivia spends all of her time outdoors, she somehow also finds time to nurture her passion for photography – she loves nothing more than to spend long, patient hours in the darkroom developing her photos the old-fashioned way. After graduation this spring, Olivia is looking forward to exploring the woods and waters of the west coast with her Apogee students on California Mountains & Coast this summer!

Henry Whipple – California Mountains & Coast

This summer, Henry Whipple will join Apogee as a newly minted Hamilton graduate with a shiny degree in Public Policy and minors in Economics and Hispanic Studies. Henry’s wide-ranging interests span beyond academia, and he can be found on campus leading the charge in a variety of realms. With a passion for running, Henry serves as the Captain of Hamilton’s Varsity Cross Country & Track teams, a role he’s no stranger to after having served as a leader for the same sport throughout high school in his hometown of Montclair, NJ. Henry also has made his way across campus time after time as a college tour guide and sings in the college choir. After participating in Adirondack Adventure as a freshman, Henry has since led trips for incoming students for the past few years. Beyond campus borders, Henry finds time to volunteer by tutoring local middle school students in math, assisting refugees with academics at the BOECES refugee center through Hamilton’s Project Shine, and coaching the local third through seventh grade Track & Field team. Henry is no stranger to working with kids and has spent the past few summers overseeing cabin life for a dozen students by night and teaching windsurfing by day at a camp in upstate New York. Last spring, Henry spent a semester abroad in Santiago, Chile studying comparative education and social change, but he is looking forward to exploring gorgeous landscapes domestically this summer on our California Mountains & Coast trip!