Meet our Maine’s Downeast Explorer Leaders!


Lizzie Bach joins us this year on Maine’s Downeast Explorer trip, sporting hiking boots that have been across terrain and vistas high and low! While Lizzie is a southern belle from Dallas, Texas, her participation in Conservation Corps brought her north to both Maine and Nevada after high school. Through the Conservation Corps, Lizzie hiked many miles each day, gained valuable backcountry skills, dirtied her hands as she performed trail work with a close-knit team, and spent her nights sleeping under the stars. A star herself, Lizzie is a rising Junior at Cornell University and while she pursues her interests in Biological Engineering, her extracurricular activities on campus are nothing shy of impressive. Lizzie supports her peers as a Teacher’s Assistant, collaborates with a women’s collective of Engineers in Nicaragua, and creates a welcoming environment for new students as a wilderness orientation leader with Cornell’s Outdoor Odyssey. Off campus, Lizzie loves nothing more than to introduce kids to new outdoor activities, an enjoyment that started at a young age when she led the neighborhood kids in games and sports at the local park. Lizzie thoroughly enjoyed her job on a Colorado dude ranch last summer, where she hopped in the saddle and introduced youngsters to horseback riding. Although they spent a lot of time learning to trot and canter, Lizzie could often be found singing, dancing, and sharing meals with her students under the Rocky Mountain sun. Lizzie’s love for working with kids spanned beyond the US border when she spent time in Costa Rica building strong relationships while teaching English. Excited by the opportunity to inspire kids and share her love for adventure in the outdoors, we know Lizzie is a wonderful addition to the Apogee team!


Hailing from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Rhett Lundy is an incredibly gifted and passionate outdoorsman who is ready to share his immense amount of knowledge with his students this summer on our Maine’s Downeast Explorer trip! Majoring in Biology, Rhett is a rising Junior at Grinnell College and can often be found on the campus’ rock climbing wall where he is not only the manager, but also a climbing instructor – teaching and certifying others to rock climb, belay, and rappel. In addition, Rhett is highly involved in Grinnell’s Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP – get it?) and loves everything from fishing, kayaking and canoeing, to backpacking – all passions he developed from camping trips with his family around the country as a kid. Along with his love for climbing and the outdoors, Rhett is an incredible swimmer and is part of Grinnell’s men’s varsity swim team. In fact, he is a record holder in the 100 Individual Medley at Grinnell! On top of it all, Rhett still makes time to share his enthusiasm and expertise with children. Rhett worked as a camp counselor at Grinnell College Swim Camp as well as two day-camps in Tennessee where he led hiking trips and introduced campers to local animals and ecology along the way. Rhett looks forward to getting to know his amazing students this summer as they explore Maine’s natural playgrounds!


Building on her strong foundation of love for the Maine outdoors, Colby College graduate Shannon Oleynik is the perfect fit for Apogee’s Maine’s Downeast Explorer trip! Although she grew up just north of the bustling streets of Washington, DC, Shannon is well-versed in the outdoors. Her adventurous attitude dates back to age four, when she was first learning to ski the slopes of New England. Growing up, Shannon spent her summers in Vermont – mountain biking, exploring hidden swimming holes, and even backpacking the entirety of the Long Trail with her family. During her past four years at Colby in Waterville, Maine, Shannon balanced her Environmental Policy and Government Studies double-major with her love for working with kids and exploring the outdoors. In the Waterville community, Shannon served as a mentor to fifth grade students through the female empowerment program Hardy Girls Healthy Women. Well-versed as an outdoor leader, Shannon has tackled wilderness orientation trips for incoming freshmen at Colby and spent a summer backpacking, camping, and rock climbing as a camp counselor at an all-girls wilderness camp in Maine. Believe it or not, Shannon’s expertise also extends far beyond the reaches of New England as she has studied abroad in Copenhagen, and found time to explore Costa Rica and Panama. During her sophomore year, Shannon even visited Belize through a service-oriented internship with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center! Shannon is up for all types of challenges, whether she’s running competitively for her college team, hiking the “longest mile of the Appalachian Trail” three times, or driving a pedicab (bike taxi) up and down the hilly streets of Portland, Maine. We’re thrilled to have Shannon join us this summer, as she’ll certainly be bringing her fantastic energy and impressive experience with her on every trip!


A rising Junior at Hamilton College and self-proclaimed “outdoor enthusiast,” Jared Mandelbaum is in fact a New York City native who grew up with roots planted in baseball (he’s a Mets man). Throughout middle and high school, Jared became very passionate about environmental protection and decided to put his passions into practice at college where he is now majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Geoscience. Outside of the classroom, Jared is extremely involved in Hamilton’s Outing Club acting 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 – Jared is a man of many talents! Not only does he play on the Ultimate Frisbee team, but Jared is also a campus tour guide and a member of an improvisation troupe. We know Jared has a great sense of humor; he has written and performed multiple comedy songs and in high school he was part of a boy band, which Jared describes as “a joke … but kind of not-a-joke.” Jared’s sense of humor makes him not only funny, but approachable and during his senior year in high school he was elected to be a Peer Leader for freshmen students, acting as a mentor for the students as they made their transition into high school. Jared is looking forward to “many moments of unbridled happiness, uncontrollable laughter, and absolute togetherness” this summer on his Maine’s Downeast Explorer trips!