Oregon and California are jointly home to one of the most breathtaking stretches of coastline in the world! And what could be better than exploring this coast on a bike? This summer, our Pacific Coast leaders – phenoms Abby Dalzell, West Foster, Emily Sherry, and Mike Vercillo – will soak up the views and lead their groups through the redwoods, past the otters at play, and over that famous red bridge into San Francisco. Grab your sunscreen, shades and smiles – these leaders are taking you to, as they say, the “West Coast / Best Coast” (up for debate up here in Maine, of course…).
A rising Senior at Williams College, returning Apogee leader Abby Dalzell is studying Biochemistry – but she takes every opportunity to get out into the surrounding Berkshire Mountains. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Abby is driven by her passion for the outdoors and working with children of all ages. Abby grew up spending her summers in rural Sweden, Maine, boating, hiking, and playing on the lake with her ten cousins. As one of the oldest cousins in her family, Abby learned early on what it means to be a mentor and a role model. By the time she was in high school, she was coaching both tennis and soccer for elementary school kids, teaching skills, and fostering a positive and fun environment. At Williams, Abby has continued to follow her passions for the outdoors and working with kids; Abby is a co-founder of Williams’ Nordic Ski Club team, and during her Sophomore year, she was involved in a program for troubled teenage boys at the Berkshire Farm Center. She honed her outdoor and leadership skills leading a backpacking trip for the Williams Outdoor Orientation program for incoming freshmen. Abby is now co-directing the entire Orientation Program, hiring and training new leaders, and managing 38 different trips. But it’s not all work and no play! Abby spent her Fall semester in Madagascar on a Williams program that focused on biodiversity and natural resource management. When not in class, Abby went snorkeling, followed lemurs through the rainforest, and spent numerous nights camping out under the stars. Abby is looking forward to another amazing summer with Apogee as she and her group make their way down the Pacific Coast this summer!
A rising Senior at Tufts University, West Foster grew up in Southern California with two younger brothers. West grew up in one of the most hustling and bustling households you can imagine – in addition to the three boys, there were two dogs, six cats, three lizards, two snakes, two tortoises, three turtles… just to name a few. West found peace in the water. In high school, he was a dual varsity athlete on the Water Polo and Swimming teams, and at Tufts, West has taken up white-water kayaking. When he’s not paddling, West studies Philosophy and Environmental Science, and he plays a large role in Tufts’ Wilderness Orientation program. Last summer, West was instrumental in facilitating the entire program – he ran training and worked the logistics for trips that introduced nearly 300 incoming freshmen to Tufts and to the outdoors. West has also been a part of the Tufts Mountain Club’s “Outdoor Nation” project which runs hiking and canoeing trips for high school students as a local YMCA’s afterschool program. We are so excited for West to share his love for adventure and the outdoors with his Apogee students this summer!
Returning Apogee all-star Emily Sherry is native to Durham, New Hampshire, where she grew up on the shores of beautiful Great Bay. A 2014 graduate of Hamilton College, Emily immersed herself on the Hamilton campus during the school year and throughout her summers; she worked at Hamilton’s Career Center and as a biology tutor for the Higher Education Opportunity Program, a program that works to make a college education more accessible for Hamilton students who arrive with an alternate academic profile. Emily loves to expand her horizons: she spent a semester of her Sophomore year studying in New York City, and then a semester of her Junior year in Dunedin, New Zealand, where she thoroughly explored the stunning countryside. Back at Hamilton, Emily played rugby for all four years and was involved in Hamilton’s Outing Club. With the Outing Club, Emily took advantage of hiking, snowshoeing, and canoeing throughout New York, and introduced incoming Freshmen to the outdoors as leader with Hamilton’s wilderness-based pre-orientation program. Since graduating last spring, Emily has been extremely busy. After leading last summer’s Coast to Quebec trips with Apogee, Emily moved to Florida to lead 30-day canoe trips for Outward Bound’s At-Risk Youth program. Emily is thrilled to return for another summer of adventure with her Apogee groups as they head down the Pacific Coast!
A 2014 Williams College graduate, Mike Vercillo can’t wait to return to Apogee this summer to explore the west coast on our Pacific Coast trip. Mike is from Nanuet, New York, and he attributes his love of both community and food to his close-knit family and Italian heritage. At Williams, Mike cultivated his interest in food studies and sustainable agriculture into a real passion. Mike spent his first Fall out of college working as an intern with the Spannocchia Foundation in the Tuscany region of Italy – an experience Mike calls “life changing,” and one that solidified his desire to integrate food cultivation into his future. At Williams, Mike played a key role building communities and acting as a mentor. Mike was a leader for Williams’ orientation trips for incoming freshmen and was selected to be a Junior Advisor, a sought-after campus position wherein he served as a residential role model for Williams freshmen. Mike has a deep love for music, too – he served as the Music Director of his a cappella group on campus. Finally, Mike has made community service a focal point. Two summers ago, Mike stayed on campus and did food justice work at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, where he headed the revival of a farmers market and worked at a local food bank. After a great summer with Apogee in 2014 leading our Coast to Quebec trip, Mike is going to love exploring the “best” coast this summer, learning more about his Apogee students and himself as they make their way down to San Francisco.