Very Happy Monday Afternoon to you! From semi-pro cycling to marathon winning, we’ve got another group of rock stars to introduce you to! This Coast to Quebec / Maine Coast Junior / Colorado’s Rocky Mountains group has some incredible experience and can’t wait to add a summer of leading with Apogee to the list.
Ezra Ward-Packard’s love of cycling started early – not in life, but at 4:30 AM. The second of five children growing up in Wisconsin, Ezra and his brother woke up before the sun to bike five miles to their grandmother’s house to watch Team USA play in the 2002 World Cup and Ezra remembers this as the time he fell in love with the sport. However, Ezra wasn’t satisfied watching high-achieving athletes on TV – indeed, he decided to become one himself. After high school, Ezra spent three years as a semi-pro cyclist, racing 213 times in 15 states and five countries, seeing the world and living with teammates from 17 different countries. Off his bike, Ezra is a hard-working student at Carleton College and also an avid hiker. He has taken on three solo hiking and backpacking trips, checking off 12 national parks throughout South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, and Arkansas, and spent a recent winter break with All Hands Volunteers, where he devoted two weeks to mucking, gutting, sanitizing, and rebuilding some of the 60,000 flood damaged homes in the Baton Rouge area. Ezra loves working with kids – he has served as a residential counselor at a camp for young people with Type 1 Diabetes, and has helped coach and counsel young cyclists at Team Novo Nordisk’s Talent Identification camp. Ezra can’t wait to share his love of cycling and all things outdoor adventure with his students on this summer’s Coast to Québec and Maine Coast Junior trips!
Tina Glusac loves to take on outdoor challenges – no matter where in the world they may be! Originally from Connecticut, Tina grew up in a close-knit family. Her family’s bike tours in far-flung locations like Tuscany, Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Banff engendered a life-long love for exploration in Tina. A rising senior at Wesleyan University, Tina jumped on the chance to study abroad – she has completed a semester-long NOLS course in Tanzania where she spent a month traveling through Namibia and South Africa and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She has also visited Asia, Central America, and Europe – needless to say, her passport is full of stamps! Domestically, Tina has found time to explore as well, spending a summer WOOFing in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. At Wesleyan, Tina is a Psychology major and spent last summer working as a psychology/neuroscience research assistant at Yale during the week and spent weekends organizing hiking and camping trips with friends. Somehow, Tina has carved out time to give back, teaching geometry to 12-year-olds in Tanzania, volunteering as a health educator in Connecticut high schools, and devoting time to organizations like Girls Helping Girls and Infinite Possibilities – an organization focused on increasing confidence in elementary school girls through mentorship and math/science activities. With a backpack full of stories and a deeply caring personality, we know her Maine Coast Junior and Coast to Québec students will love their time biking, hiking, and soaking up sunshine with Tina!
What does Coast to Québec and Maine Coast Junior leader Sam Donato have in common with portobello, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms? They’re all fungis! (We realize that “fungi” is plural, but… puns!) At Ithaca College, Sam has focused in particular on mycology (that is, of course, the study of fungi) for sustainability purposes – and will be graduating this spring with a degree in Environmental Science. In addition to his extensive research and teaching experience in all-things fungi, Sam is also a lifelong soccer player, and he played on Ithaca’s varsity team. Hailing from Fayetteville, NY, outside of Syracuse, Sam grew up spending weekends in the Adirondacks – hiking, backpacking, climbing, and making maple syrup. Last year, Sam took his backpacking skills abroad and worked as a trip leader and ecology educator in Belize in addition to taking four months to backpack through Chile, Patagonia, and the Andes. Sam is no stranger to Maine, either; he’s worked as a trip leader at Camp Kieve, where he led 9-13 year-old campers on backpacking and canoeing trips through the Allagash Wilderness in northern Maine. Given his plethora of experiences worldwide, it should come as no surprise that one of Sam’s career goals is to become a full-time trip leader. With Sam’s passion for working in the outdoors with youth and his multiple years of experience working in restaurants as a cook, his Apogee students are in for a treat!
Liana Margolese seems to have inherited the travel bug from her parents. When she was nine years old, her family took a two-month road trip in an RV, visiting national parks, cities, and, in her words, “way too many battlefields.” Since then, Liana has gone on countless adventures throughout the country exploring places both close to her Massachusetts home and further afield (including a 30-day backpacking trip in Alaska!). We’re excited to send her on another set of adventures this summer, as she leads Apogee students up the coast on our Coast to Québec cycling trip and exploring all that Maine has to offer on our Maine Coast Junior trip. In addition to being an experienced traveler, Liana is also a seasoned leader. In high school, Liana led winter camping expeditions, taught cross country skiing, and led ropes course activities for peers as a student leader in the school’s Outdoor Pursuits program. Now a Mechanical Engineering major at Cornell, Liana continues to engage in outdoor leadership activities; Liana is a rock climbing instructor, a guide for Cornell’s wilderness pre-orientation program, and works for the Cornell Outdoor Education center as a gear specialist. In addition to her school-year activities, Liana spent last summer as a counselor and the director of boating at Wohelo Camp on the shores of Lake Sebago here in Maine. At Wohelo, Liana was responsible for coordinating the canoeing, kayaking, and rowing programs, planning the boating curricula for 100+ students, and overseeing the counselors who were teaching boating classes. Liana’s passion for the outdoors and her enthusiasm for sharing experiences with others are sure to make for a great summer as she leads her Apogee students through Maine!
Returning for his second year on the Apogee team, Tim Gruber (aka “Grubes”) served as both a Support Staffer and a Coast to Québec leader last summer, and he can hardly wait to explore Rocky Mountains National Park on our Colorado’s Rocky Mountains trips and Acadia National Park on our Maine Coast Junior trip this summer. Born and raised in Davidson, North Carolina, Tim graduated last spring from the University of Richmond with degrees in History and French. His eagerness to explore and learn has brought Tim to many corners of the globe – from Paris to South Korea. Combining his passions for the French language and working with youth, Tim has taught intermediate French and worked at the Summer Institute for the Gifted in Atlanta, where he facilitated academic and extracurricular activities for students 8-18 years old. Over the last year, Tim has continued to follow his passion for teaching, working as a kindergarten teacher in Richmond. After serving as Captain of Richmond’s Cross Country team during college, Tim has continued to be a force on two feet; he broke the ribbon on a 10k race of over 1,000 runners in Maine last summer, and he most recently ran the Blue Ridge Marathon with his co-leader, Gracie, and he smoothly won that, too (as in, he came in first!). Tim is counting down the days until he can run around (get it, “run?”) Colorado and Maine with his Apogee students this summer!
Apogee is through the roof to welcome Grace Wright back for another summer, this time to lead our Colorado’s Rocky Mountains trips as well as our Maine Coast Junior trip. Though she’s lived in nine homes in five states, Gracie spent the majority of her youth in Vermont with her close-knit family, spending summers hiking, camping, and skiing in the beautiful Green Mountains. On flatter ground, Gracie has worked with kids as a girls’ lacrosse coach and referee. A 2016 graduate of Bates College, Gracie earned a degree in Mathematics and captained the Women’s Nordic ski team. Gracie also served as an ambassador for Bates as she welcomed freshmen on backpacking and canoeing orientation trips. Following her passion for working with young people, Gracie was also an active member in the off-campus community, working in area public schools to help support diverse classrooms. A natural educator with a thirst for adventure, Gracie fell in love with the country of Nepal after spending a semester there. In Nepal, Gracie enjoyed the landscape, the people – and the tea! Lucky for them, Gracie is headed back to Nepal after her Apogee summer to teach English on a Fulbright scholarship. Closer to home, Gracie recently ran the Blue Ridge Marathon with her co-leader, Tim Gruber (and finished fourth among all women). We can’t wait to have Gracie back with us as she swaps running shoes for hiking boots and hits the trails of Colorado and Maine with her Apogee students this summer!