Leader Bios: Meet Michael, Joanna, Walter & Anna!

Michael Alberse – Cape Cod & the Islands

Michael Alberse is a man of varying interests and talents, many of which started while growing up in North Carolina alongside his parents, three brothers, and two dogs. Their visits to the mountains and beaches were frequent, where Michael caught the adventure bug and dabbled in all sorts of sports, ultimately finding mountain biking to be his passion. Learning to buzz down a mountain on two wheels wasn’t enough for Michael, however, so he began mountain biking competitively, eventually resulting in a 2nd place finish in a statewide competition! Now a rising junior majoring in Business and Entrepreneurship at University of North Carolina, Michael has also shown a clear passion for giving back. In high school, Michael was the President of the Beta Club, encouraging over 180+ of his peers to give back to local organizations. He’s spent time over the last three summers making homes safer, warmer, and drier alongside his youngest brother with the Appalachia Service Project. The last five summers, Michael has been an Instructor at a Discovery Tech camp, teaching students ages 6-12 robotics, programming, and movie making through hands-on activities and projects. When he’s not working with kids, Michael has spent a lot of time pedaling on two wheels, and he can’t wait to combine the two while leading our Cape Cod & the Islands trips this summer!

Joanna Papdakis – Cape Cod & the Islands

Growing up on the New Hampshire seacoast, Joanna Papadakis’ love of salty sea air and all things outdoors runs as deep as the ocean itself! From a young age, Joanna spent her days adventuring alongside her sisters (they’re triplets!), setting up tents in the backyard and learning how to paddle on the Brewster bays of Cape Cod. This experience alone makes her a natural fit to lead our Cape Cod & the Islands trips this summer. And yet, there’s more! As a rising junior at Cornell, Joanna is heavily involved in the Cornell Outdoor Education community, serving as a pre-orientation backpacking leader, sea kayaking instructor, and gear “Wizard.” On campus, Joanna also studies Human Development, serves on the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (connecting students with research opportunities on campus), and is a Cornell Tradition Fellow – a recognition for those who have shown immense dedication to community service throughout high school and college. Two summers ago, Joanna combined her love of the outdoors and working with children by serving as a Camp Counselor for a summer adventure camp, overseeing 8-10 year olds in everything from field games to facilitating camp-wide group activities. Additionally, throughout high school, Joanna taught students ages 5-11 both ballet and jazz dance through the Youth Dance Ensemble. Despite the coordination this requires, Joanna has yet to perform a successful cartwheel. Reader, that elusive quest will undoubtedly continue throughout this summer – perhaps her students will have some tips to share as they bike along the Cape!

Walter Sharon – Maine Coast Photo, Maine Coast Junior

Hailing from “a rather complex mixture of Boston and the Raleigh-Durham area” (his words, not ours), Walter Sharon now makes his way north for the summer to lead our Maine Coast Photo and Maine Coast Junior trips. Walter is a rising junior at the University of Virginia, majoring in Politics and Global Studies, but his interests and experiences range well beyond the political sphere. Growing up, Walter exercised both his artistic and athletic genes; he plays jazz piano and “dabbled” in cartooning in high school, all while playing (and coaching) baseball and soccer! Turns out those cartoons he drew were not just hobbies, as Walter ended up penning and publishing a children’s book during his senior year of high school. Walter doesn’t limit his engagement with younger generations to his art, however, having spent the past five summers working as a counselor at a summer sports camp in Concord, Massachusetts. It was at summer camp that he discovered the passion for working with students that he brought along to UVA, where he now serves as a mentor through the Boys and Girls Club. Walter enjoys taking his mentees to the Art Museum at UVA, where they view, discuss, and make their own art. As you’re likely able to tell by now, Walter loves engaging with students in both outdoor and artistic settings, and we can’t wait to have him join us in Maine this summer to do just that!

Anna Maheu – Maine Coast Photo, Maine Coast Junior

Anna Maheu grew up in New York City, and recalls not having much of a love of the outdoors initially, instead preferring New York’s “concrete jungle.” A three-month trip to Nepal during a gap-year between high school and college, however, would begin to change that. Now a rising junior at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, Anna’s love for the outdoors knows no bounds. Anna leads outdoor orientation trips for incoming Bates first-years, and has recently planned and embarked on extended backpacking trips through Nepal and in the North Cascades of Washington state. She also finds time to coordinate events for the Community Engagement House at Bates, run the literary magazine she founded, and compete on the ultimate Frisbee Team, all while maintaining the course-load of a double major in Environmental Global Politics and Religious Studies. Outside of Bates, Anna has had a variety of different experiences in the professional world, ranging from working as an Editorial Content Intern for a wellness website to farming in rural North Carolina to being a counselor at a French immersion camp for middle schoolers. Yes, in case she wasn’t already impressive enough, she is also fluent in French! Anna’s vast experience in many areas of life, combined with her love of working with students, has us very excited to have her lead our Maine Coast Photo and Maine Coast Junior trips this summer!