Leader Bios! Meet Zach, Sam, Jeanne, and Jared!

Today we present
a haiku from our office
Can you guess which trip?
Eighteen days we wait
’til our great leaders are here
Only eighteen days
Some travel afar
They climb great heights, they frolic
Alps Explorers rock

Zach Nerod – Alps Explorer

Zach Nerod came to Apogee from Fairfield, Connecticut, where he grew up with his younger brother and sister exploring the woods behind his house and beyond. His love for the outdoors blossomed as he spent his summers along the coast of Sorrento, Maine – just up the road from Acadia National Park. His summer days were filled with hunting for crabs, hiking coastal peaks, and sailing around Acadia. As his love for sailing soared, Zach spent five summers as the Head Sailing Instructor at the Sorrento Yacht Club. During these long, beautiful days on the water, Zach brought energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to his groups of kids, ranging from six to sixteen years old. Zach’s passion for sailing followed him to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was highly involved in Michigan’s Sailing Team. When he wasn’t on the water, Zach could be found on campus diving deep into his books. An Economics and Environmental Studies double major, Zach also spent a semester abroad in New Zealand, where he studied Natural Resource Management. Zach loves to get his hands dirty in the outdoors. He spent part of a summer volunteering along the Appalachian Trail and a month hiking to and from various geologic sites throughout Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming. Zach loved exploring Puerto Rico two summers ago while leading our Caribbean Service trip, and he can’t wait to head to Europe this year to add Alps Explorer to his Apogee resume!

Sam Mengual – Alps Explorer

Sam Mengual is gearing up for her third summer with Apogee this season! After leading Scottish Highlands last summer and Caribbean Service the year prior, Sam is ready to pack up her gear and head back to Europe for this summer’s Alps Explorer trips. Hailing from West Hartford, CT, Sam is a 2016 graduate of Hamilton College, where she majored in Environmental Studies. In addition to her studies, Sam was a leader on Hamilton’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, led multi-day backpacking trips for Adirondack Adventure (Hamilton’s outdoor orientation program), and also served as a host for Trivia Night. After traveling to Spain in high school, Sam followed her passion for Spanish culture and language by spending a semester of college studying in Ecuador. When she returned to campus, Sam began tutoring Spanish at a local elementary school. Since graduation, Sam has continued to pursue her passion for teaching kids in the outdoors; she has been working as an outdoor educator at The Leadership School at Kieve-Wavus Education Foundation in Maine, facilitating week-long programs for school groups from around the greater New England area. During winter breaks, Sam has enjoyed a cross-country rock-climbing road trip and teaching at a public school in Portland, ME as part of The Leadership School’s “Educator in Residence” program. Although Sam is loving her time in Maine, she can’t wait to explore the Tour du Mont Blanc this summer – and her students can look forward to enjoying Sam’s culinary prowess along the way!

Jeanne Ringwald – Alps Explorer

Jeanne Ringwald grew up in a family that encouraged travel and gaining new experiences. With her family by her side, Jeanne has explored parts of Europe, South America, and the United States. A rising senior at NYU, Jeanne studies Social Work and Child Mental Health; she also sings in an all-female a cappella group! Outside of school, Jeanne’s interest in working with kids and her love of adventure go back many years – she was a camper at the YMCA Camp Chingachgook growing up, where she went on to be a counselor for three consecutive summers. As a counselor, Jeanne was primarily in charge of caring for a cabin of eleven- to twelve-year-olds. In 2015, Jeanne took a year away from NYU to participate in a NOLS semester program in the Southwestern United States, boosting her outdoor leadership skills. From there, she traveled to Sydney, Australia, where she dedicated time to working with a charity that provided assistance to refugees and also helped out at an after-school program. In summer 2016, Jeanne headed back to familiar Camp Chingachgook, this time in a new role – she spent the summer leading backpacking expeditions for fifteen- to sixteen-year-olds through the Adventure Camp program, and one of her trips summited all 46 Adirondack High peaks in under five weeks! Jeanne’s experience speaks for itself, but the energy and enthusiasm she brings to sharing nature with those around her makes her the perfect fit for any Apogee trip family. After a great time leading our California Mountains & Coast trips last summer, Jeanne can’t wait to be back to lead Alps Explorer this year!

Jared Mandelbaum – Alps Explorer

Soon-to-be Hamilton College graduate and self-proclaimed “outdoor enthusiast” Jared Mandelbaum is, in fact, a New York City native who grew up with roots planted in baseball (in case you were wondering, he’s a Mets man). Throughout middle and high school, Jared grew passionate about environmental protection and decided to put his passions to practice at college, where he now majors in Environmental Studies and minors in Geoscience. Outside the classroom, Jared is heavily involved in Hamilton’s Outing Club, where he acts as a trip leader, an Outing Club officer, and a leader for “Adirondack Adventure,” an outdoor orientation program for incoming freshmen. His interests don’t stop there, for Jared is a man of many talents. Not only does he play on the Ultimate Frisbee team, but he also serves as a campus tour guide and is a member of an improvisation troupe. Jared’s sense of humor makes him not only funny, but also approachable – during his senior year of high school, he was elected to be a Peer Leader, acting as a mentor to freshmen as they transitioned from middle school. Jared spent his first summer with Apogee leading our Maine’s Downeast Explorer trips, and continued his travels the following year through a semester-long abroad program in Costa Rica, where he studied sustainable development. Back for more, Jared returned to lead our California Mountains & Coast trips last summer, and he can’t wait to kick off his third year in Europe as he leads this summer’s Alps Explorer trips!