Leader Profiles: America Coast to Coast

Without further ado, it’s time to dedicate this blog space to the four fearless leaders guiding our America Coast to Coast bike tours this summer.  At more than 2700 miles – every inch between sun rising over the Atlantic near Charleston, South Carolina, and the Pacific’s setting sun at San Diego, California – this epic trip attracts the very best of the best in students and leaders alike.  We’re thrilled and proud that Nick Geisler and Alexis Felix (ACC1), and Mike Lessard and McKayla Dunfey (ACC2) have heeded the call this summer.  Read about our superstars here:

Nick Geisler

Apogee Adventures Leader Nick GeislerReturning to Apogee after a hugely successful summer leading our Coast to Quebec trips last year, Nick Geisler is eagerly anticipating this summer’s America Coast to Coast trip!  A creative writing major and rising senior at Hamilton College, Nick will come away from his cross-country trip with all kinds of new stories.  Nick is a Georgia native who now calls Ithaca, New York, home.  As such, he is looking forward to spending this summer back in the Deep South. A true athlete, Nick’s childhood babysitter was Olympian and women’s soccer phenom Mia Hamm, who may have planted the seed for his love of soccer.  After captaining his high school’s soccer team and working for years as a soccer referee and camp counselor, Nick now plays rugby and is the President of Hamilton’s men’s rugby team.  Additionally, Nick will have plenty of stories to share with his group about spending this spring semester studying abroad in Senegal.  Nick served as a peer mentor in his High School’s “Creating a Safer School” program, and has been very involved with and dedicated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  Nick has run his own Relay for Life team for the past three years, and was invited to be a part of the County’s Relay Planning Committee.  A man with an outstanding sense of humor, Nick is looking forward to sharing his passion for the diverse world of tube socks with his Coast to Coasters.  Nick is certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.

Alexis Felix

Alexis FelixBringing her passion for healthy living in the outdoors to this summer’s America Coast to Coast trip, Alexis Felix is a serious adventurer and a serious athlete.  A three-time marathoner, Alexis runs simply because she loves to.  She has made her passion her vocation – she now works as a physical education teacher in her home state of Maryland, inspiring elementary school students to live a healthy and active lifestyle.  Alexis earned a Master’s Degree in Applied Health Physiology from Salisbury University in Maryland in 2012, after receiving her undergraduate degree in Physical Education and Health from Salisbury in 2010.  Outside of her athletic achievements, and life as a physical education teacher, Alexis has extensive experience working with kids.  She has worked as a soccer coach for several seasons, including head-coaching a junior varsity soccer team during her senior year in college, and working as the Club Soccer President at Salisbury.  Alexis worked as a camp counselor for two summers at the “Teens to Go” camp in Maryland, before spending her third summer with them working as a camp director.  Alexis is a self-proclaimed foodie, who has eaten (and enjoyed) alligator tail.  Though she promises not to subject her Apogee groups to such eccentric delicacies, her Coast to Coasters can look forward to some fantastic meals on trip.  Alexis is certified in First Aid and CPR.

Mike Lessard

Apogee Adventures Leader Mike LessardThis summer will be Mike Lessard’s second trek across the country with Apogee in as many years.  After leading ACC last summer and wearing his Apogee Assistant Director hat through the off season, Mike can’t wait to get back in the saddle in 2013.  This is Mike’s sixth summer with us as he came to work with us for the first time in the summer of 2008, when he led both the New England Mountains and Coast and Maine Mountain Explorer trips. In successive summers, and in addition to ACC, Mike has led Apogee’s Vermont Hiker, Northwest Explorer (twice!), and Caribbean Service Adventure trips. A 2010 graduate from the University of New Hampshire, Mike grew up in Maine where his close-knit family spent much of their time in the outdoors hiking, biking, skiing and canoeing.  These activities continue to be a passion for Mike and influenced his career direction.  Mike is also a serious athlete.  In high school he was captain of his ski, soccer and track teams, and led his ski team to two state championships.  At UNH Mike launched a world-class Nordic skiing career and was selected for the prestigious Olympic Development Team based in Presque Isle, Maine. Mike spent the two winters after he graduated from UNH training and competing in ski races around the world. And this past winter, when he wasn’t living the dream as Apogee’s Assistant Director, Mike served as the assistant nordic ski coach at Bowdoin College.  Known affectionately in Apogee circles as “Papa Mike” or “Nordic Mike,” Mike loves working with young people and can’t wait to meet this summer’s Apogee group.  A former EMT and lifeguard, Mike is currently certified in First Aid and CPR.

McKayla Dunfey

McKayla DunfeyReturning to lead America Coast to Coast after a fantastic summer with Apogee on the Pacific Coast, McKayla Dunfey is a proud Maine native and a seasoned bicycle tourer.  In addition to her jaunts to San Francisco last summer, McKayla has cycled through Europe and made time for touring independently around the States.  McKayla is a 2013 graduate of Hamilton College, where she majored in Environmental Studies, and wrote her senior thesis on bicycling as transportation.  To that end, McKayla will be riding a special bike across the country this summer:  the Chobani yogurt company bought her a new touring bike after they read a blog post she wrote about her bike being stolen outside of the Chobani cafe in SoHo, NYC while doing her research.  The story she wrote will also be featured in the June edition of the “Adventure Cyclist” magazine!  In a year off from Hamilton, McKayla coached Nordic-skiing at a guest ranch in Montana, and worked at the University of New Hampshire’s Browne Center, where she worked to facilitate group outdoor adventure experiences.  It was during the same year that McKayla completed her semester-length European bike tour.  McKayla loves to cook, and perhaps her groups should be warned that one of her passions is “experimental cooking.”  At school, she lived in a cooperative house that focuses on living sustainably and eating local, organic food.  She has spent many a summer working outdoors, as both the assistant director of SailMaine’s junior sailing program, and staff for the Chewonki Girl’s camp near Millinocket, Maine. McKayla is certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.