Leader Profiles – Mike, Mia, David, and Susie



After spending last summer working as an assistant director at Apogee’s headquarters,  Mike Lessard is excited to be back in the saddle and leading our America Coast to Coast trip this summer!    Mike came to work for Apogee in the summer of 2008, when he led both the New England Mountains and Coast and Maine Mountain Explorer trips. In the three successive summers, he led Apogee’s Vermont Hiker, Northwest Explorer, 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 has spent the last two winters training and competing in ski races around the world.  Known affectionately in Apogee circles as “Papa Mike” or “Nordic Mike,” Mike coaches ski clinics at his high school and has worked as a mentor through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.    Mike loves working with young people and can’t wait to meet his next Apogee group.   A former  EMT and lifeguard, Mike is currently certified in First Aid and CPR.


Mia is wielding the saws on the left.

A proud and enthusiastic Maine native, Mia Taggart cannot wait to pedal along the coast and through the hills of her home state this summer. She’s no stranger to the Coast to Quebec route, having embarked on Apogee’s CQ trip as a student in 2008.   Mia is wrapping up an adventurous year off from school before she transfers to Bates College in September.   Mia spent her fall in Guatemala, working as an art teacher at Safe Passage, an organization that serves to educate and support children whose families live off of the municipal garbage dump, before returning home and volunteering as an assistant Nordic ski coach at Freeport Middle School.   She spent her spring in Italy working as a farm intern at the Tenuta di Spannocchia in Tuscany, a 13th century estate now practicing sustainable farming (and host to our Tuscan Service Adventure groups). At Spannocchia, Mia became quite skilled in the art of finding and harvesting wild asparagus.   Mia loves to sing, cook, ski, bike, and hike. Mia can’t wait to return to Apogee this summer for a whole new set of adventures.   Mia is certified in First Aid and CPR.




Back for his third straight Apogee summer, David Cutler is fired up to lead Apogee’s America Coast to Coast trip this summer!  After leading our New England Mountains & Coast, Northwest Explorer and Montana Service Adventure in earlier summers, David is looking forward to taking in the long view on our epic cross-country adventure.   A native Mainer, David just graduated from Bates College,  where he majored in Ecology and minored in Education.   At Bates, David spent his time  hanging from the rock wall, volunteering at area elementary schools, and, on winter weekends, heading up to the mountains to ski.   Dave is an experienced leader.   In high school, he co-captained his lacrosse team and, through the Bates Outing Club, he has led pre-orientation trips for incoming freshmen.  David loves to travel and spent last spring studying abroad in  Amman,  Jordan.   In addition, David recently spent five weeks in  Mexico, as well as seven weeks sailing and boat building in  Nova Scotia.   He is also an avid Ultimate Frisbee player.   Ever an enthusiastic adventurer, David can’t wait to bike across the country with  his Apogee students this summer.   David is a certified EMT.



Susie Hufstader is a Connecticut native in love with the state of Maine, an Apogee enthusiast, and an experienced adventurer.   Susie spent three summers with Apogee as a student, participating in the very same Coast to Quebec adventure she is back to lead this summer.   Susie just graduated from Colby College, where she studied German and History.   Her enthusiasm and dedication had its rewards, as she will travel to Germany on a teaching Fulbright in the fall.   At Colby, Susie split her time between writing papers and racing bikes, a hobby that was sparked by her Apogee trips. Susie’s interests vary widely – she has more than a passing interest in typography, and ran a marathon in Germany last August after studying abroad there in the spring. Susie has spent a summer working with Apogee in a support position before she was eligible to lead, worked with kids as a counselor at a ski camp in New Hampshire teaching ski lessons, and also as a teaching assistant at Colby. Susie can’t wait to share her love of the Apogee lifestyle, from the riding to the Quaker Countdowns with her groups this summer.   Susie is certified in First Aid and CPR.