The effectiveness of OA and its high academic standards are a testament to our faculty. Our teachers are some of the most passionate educators you will find anywhere. They are experts in fields ranging from American literature to political economics to ecological diversity.

Our leaders have received degrees from Swarthmore College, Duke University, Davidson College, The University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, Warren Wilson College, and other highly respected colleges and universities. They are all dedicated professionals who enjoy the outdoors and love working closely with young adults in a variety of settings where students are actively engaged in discussions and their own learning process.

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Meet the Faculty

Click on a faculty member’s photo or name to learn more about each person.

Bonnie Carter

Bonnie Carter

Office Manager
OA Registrar

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Bonnie Carter

Education

  • North Georgia College & State University
  • East Georgia College

Experience

  • Administrative Assistant, Eagle’s Nest Foundation
  • Mortgage Consultant, First Citizens Bank
  • Administrative Assistant, General Motors Acceptance Corporation

Her love of the mountains, people, organizational skills, and attention to detail brought Bonnie to command central on the campus of Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy. All roads lead to her desk in the Salt Mines. Raised mostly in a small town in Georgia, summers found her and her family in the mountains of North Carolina or at her grandparent’s cabin in the near-by woods of Transylvania County, North Carolina.

Susan Tinsley Daily

Susan Tinsley Daily

Dean of Students
Environmental Seminar
Wilderness Leader

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Susan Tinsley Daily

Education

  • Masters in Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Western Carolina University, expected graduation in May, 2017
  • Masters of Arts in Teaching, Tufts University, 1995
  • B.A. in English Literature with a Concentration in Environmental Studies, 1994

Experience

  • The Outdoor Academy: Dean of Students, Environmental Seminar and English teacher, 1998-1999, 2008-2014, present
  • Leadership and Team Building Professional Consultant: Facilitation, workshops and staff development trainings
  • North Carolina Outward Bound School: Education Director, Course Director and Instructor, 1993-2007
  • National Outdoor Leadership School: semester alumni
  • Where There Be Dragons: Risk Management Director, Special Programs Director and Instructor, Thailand and Tibet
  • The Athenian School: English, ESL and History teacher, trip leader
  • Prison University Project, San Quentin State Prison: English and Critical Thinking teacher
  • Warren Wilson College: Outdoor Leadership Department faculty
  • The Asheville School: English teacher
  • Fayerweather Street School: English, Science and Math teacher
  • Shady Hill School: English and History teacher

Having worked in a variety of traditional and experiential academic and wilderness settings, Susan is thrilled to return to The Outdoor Academy where her favorite thing to do is work with the students and faculty to discover what it means to live in community. Having worked with adolescents throughout her professional career, she has great respect and curiosity for this developmental “moment” in these students’ lives. A huge proponent of OA’s principle of simple living, she is continually working on how to decrease her footprint, increase her homesteading skills, and spend time in these mountains with her husband and two kids.

Kaela Frank

Kaela Frank

Resident Wilderness Educator

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Kaela Frank

Education
  • University for Peace, M.A., Peace Education
  • Davidson College, B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies

Experience

  • Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, Florida State University Career Center
  • Study Abroad Advisor, Davidson College
  • Program Facilitator, World Learning Youth Programs
  • Counselor, Seeds of Peace

Kaela grew up in southern Maine and developed an appreciation for canoeing, craft making, and community building at Camp Wohelo. She fell in love with southern Appalachian mountains as a wilderness trip leader for Davidson Outdoors and is excited to be back in them with the Outdoor Academy.

 

Previously, Kaela worked with Seeds of Peace and World Learning Youth Programs to inspire and empower young leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world. She also advised students at Davidson College and Florida State University on international travel, independent research, and internships. As an educator, Kaela specializes in guiding students through unfamiliar environments and personal challenges to develop self-knowledge, build community, and take action to effect social change.

 

Kaela loves exploring by foot, boat, and bike in the U.S. and abroad. She has lived for extended periods in Israel, India and Costa Rica. In her spare time she experiments with cooking, pottery, candle making and other crafts.

Katie Harris

Katie Harris

Dean of Academics
English
Wilderness Leader

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Katie Harris

Education
  • Vanderbilt University, M.Ed, Secondary Education
  • Middle Tennessee State University, B.A., English
Experience
  • English Instructor and Department Chair, Page High School
  • Adventure Program Director, Camp Rockmont for Boys

Katie has finally found a way to combine her favorite areas to work with youth: academics and the outdoors.  Experienced in working with students of a wide range and variety of academic strengths, Katie enjoys delving into the learning process with young adults. However, creative writing is her true love. When away from OA, she likes to spend her time reading good books, making music, climbing, and spending time outside with her husband Josh.

Roger Herbert, PhD

Roger Herbert, PhD

Outdoor Academy Director
Leadership Ethics
Wilderness Leader

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Roger Herbert, PhD

Education

  • University of Virginia, PhD, International Relations and Political Theory
  • National War College, MS, National Security Strategy
  • Naval Postgraduate School, MA, National Security Affairs
  • Davidson College, BS, Biology

Experience

  • Graduate Instructor, University of Virginia
  • Backpacking Instructor, National Outdoor Leadership School
  • Naval Officer
  • Coach (swimming and football)

After completing his doctoral studies at the University of Virginia, Roger was delighted to discover The Outdoor Academy, where his love for teaching and learning converges with his conviction that the great ideas of humanity are best explored in a small community of committed learners in intimate contact with the natural world. Formerly a senior naval officer with extensive experience leading large and complex organizations, Roger has taught courses at the undergraduate level in US Foreign Policy and the Ethics of International Relations.  He has been invited to speak on topics related to character development, leadership, and ethical decision making at the University of Virginia, the US Naval Academy, the US Coast Guard Academy, and the Naval War College.  When away from The Outdoor Academy, Roger enjoys reading great literature and exploring the beautiful back country of Western North Carolina with his wife Gretchen, also a retired naval officer.

Julie Holt

Julie Holt

Admissions Director

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Julie Holt

Education

  • AMS Montessori Teacher Training, Early Childhood
  • College of Charleston, B.S., Sociology

Experience

  • Founder & Executive Director, Mountain Sun Community School
  • Assistant Director, The Outdoor Academy

In 1998, after years of directing a non-profit public interest organization, Julie moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC to join Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy team as the Assistant Director to OA.  As OA Assistant Director, Julie found she had a great passion for introducing students to the richness of The Outdoor Academy experience in addition to working with parents and schools to facilitate the enrollment process.

Following the birth of her only child, Skyler, she became invested in local experiential education opportunities and founded a Prek-8th grade school that was inspired by the community building she witnessed at The Outdoor Academy. Julie loves working with children of all ages, but finds the developmental stage of 14-16 years old to be a defining period in a person’s life.

When not working, Julie enjoys sailing, trail running, paddling, climbing trees, and just being in the outdoors with her son as often as possible.

McNeill Mann

McNeill Mann

English Teacher

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McNeill Mann

Education

  • Prescott College, B.A., Environmental Education, Writing and Literature

Experience

  • Nature Connection Instructor and Farm Manager, Each Village Education
  • Assistant Program Director, Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center
  • Language Arts Teacher, Two Rivers Community School
  • Canoeing and Wilderness Instructor, Eagle’s Nest Camp and Hante
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR, WMA)

After several years away McNeill has happily returned to the Brevard area and the mountains and rivers she calls home. McNeill brings a diverse range of skills and passions to OA, including experience with off-the-grid homesteading and farming; a love of outdoor adventure, especially “earth skills,” backpacking, and canoeing; and a deep appreciation for traditional skills and crafts—making things by hand! As an alumna and former faculty member, she is excited to return to OA and help students connect to the natural world, find inspiration in their academic pursuits, and develop a sense of self and responsibility in the context of community. McNeill is looking forward to sharing her love of creative expression and thoughtful discourse this semester—in the English classroom and on the rivers and trails.

David Morgan

David Morgan

Resident Wilderness Educator

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David Morgan

Education

  • Hamilton College, BA, Geology & Mathematics

Experience

  • Expedition Leader, Camp Manito-wish
  • Outpost Assistant Director, Camp Manito-wish
  • Instructor, NOLS
  • Experiential Education Faculty, Albuquerque Academy

Growing up David’s explorations of the mountains and coastline of New England inspired a love of wild places and a passion for sharing them. He has found that there are few things more powerful than the human connection that comes from having adventures (and mis-adventures) together. These passions and the belief that learning by doing is important brought him to the Outdoor Academy. He is regularly found with his boots on, a mug of tea in hand, ready to have an adventure but can usually be talked into a good conversation instead.

 

Sarah Post

Sarah Post

OA Admissions Counselor

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Sarah  Post

Education

  • Denison University – B.A. in Environmental Studies and Sociology
  • Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL) Semester in Iceland

Experience

  • Camp Manito-wish YMCA – Expeditionary Backpacking leader, Trips Director, Staff Recruiter
  • Denison University Admissions – Senior Interviewer

Growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, Sarah was just down the road from the Appalachian Trail. This early exposure sparked her interest in longer camping trips, and she found herself first as a participant and then a leader for extended backcountry wilderness trips based out of northern Wisconsin for the last nine summers. Both in guiding and the world of college admissions, Sarah found a great passion for experiential education and sharing the natural world with young men and women through growth-focused challenges.

These combined interests and experiences have led Sarah to OA and to serve youth as a role model, friend, and educator.  When not in the office or on the road, Sarah is found letter-writing, knitting, attempting to bake, or scouting for the next road run.

Jeffrey Prado

Jeffrey Prado

Math Teacher

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Jeffrey  Prado

Education

  • Sewanee: The University of the South, BA, Geology and Environmental Studies

Experience

  • Trip Leader—Sewanee Outing Program (Sewanee, TN and beyond)
  • Trip Leader—The Dunn School (Los Olivos, CA)
  • Historic Site Interpreter—The Murie Center/Teton Science Schools (Grand Teton National Park, WY)
  • Teaching Fellow—The Alzar School (Cascade, ID)
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR)
  • Single Pitch Climbing Instructor (SPI)—Professional Climbing Instructors Association

Jeffrey grew up below sea level in New Orleans, Louisiana before falling in love with the mountains and wild places in our country. Jeffrey studied geology at Sewanee: The University of the South and has always been interested in the evolution of landscapes. At Sewanee he was an active member of the outdoor program and led trips across the country. Following graduation, Jeffrey has worked at the Murie Center in Grand Teton National Park, led outdoor trips for teenagers in California, and worked as a Teaching Fellow at the Alzar School in Idaho. In the classroom, Jeffrey’s goal is to push students to quantify the world around them and to think analytically when faced with a complex problem. In his free time, you will find him outside hiking and rock climbing or inside drinking coffee and whittling.

 

Hannah Siler

Hannah Siler

Resident Wilderness Educator

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Hannah Siler

Education

  • Prescott College, B.A. Adventure Education
  • NOLS
  • The Outdoor Academy and Conserve School Alumni

Experience

  • Coastal Studies for Girls, Head Resident
  • Deer Hill Expeditions, Instructor
  • Prescott College Wilderness Orientation, Instructor
  • Naturalists at Large, Naturalist
  • Crossroads School, Wilderness Instructor

Hannah was first acquainted with the Outdoor Academy as a student, where she first realized her love of experiential education and community living. Since this pivotal moment, Hannah has sought out and participated in numerous and varied experiential education experiences, both as a student and instructor, and has received her Bachelor’s degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College. When not leading students through wilderness experiences, Hannah loves trail running, biking, reading, and cooking off the tailgate of her car “home.” Hannah is thrilled to return to the place that had such a profound impact on her, and live and learn through the inspiring community at OA.

Bella Smiga

Bella Smiga

Garden Manager
Wilderness Leader

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Bella Smiga

Education

  • University of Colorado at Boulder, B.A. Environmental Studies
  • Green Mountain College, M.S. Sustainable Food Systems

Experience

  • The Hub at Backcountry Outdoors, Outdoor Retail Associate
  • Main Street Power, Inc., Residential Solar Associate
  • Bella Energy, Inc., Solar Advisor
  • Thorne Ecological Institute, Summer Day Camp Intern

Bella developed a passion for environmental issues growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She journeyed out west to receive her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Colorado is where Bella was introduced to the myriad opportunities to recreate in nature. After college, Bella worked in the solar energy field, but it was cultivating a vegetable garden at home that inspired her the most. Developing self-reliance and a closer relationship with the planet through growing ones own food was where Bella knew she wanted to focus her energy. After moving to Brevard to return to the lush ecosystem of the Appalachians, Bella decided to pursue her passion for sustainable food by receiving her M.S. from Green Mountain College. Bella is honored to be able to grow food sustainably for Eagle’s Nesters and share this experience with youth.

Brian Quarrier

Brian Quarrier

Outdoor Education Manager

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Brian Quarrier

Education

  • Bates College, B.S., Environmental Studies

Experience

  • Founder, Build & Go Adventures
  • Environmental Science, Advanced Ecology and Ceramics Teacher, The Darrow School
  • Tripleader, Overland Summers

Brian grew up in southern New Hampshire. During his college summers, he worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut system. He worked at Lake of the Clouds, Madison, Greenleaf and was hutmaster at Galehead.

In Brian’s free time he likes to go on his own adventures. In 2013, he built his own canoe and paddled the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 740-mile trip from Old Forge, NY to Fort Kent, ME. He was so inspired by traveling on a vehicle that he built himself that during the summer of 2014, he built his own bicycle out of bamboo and biked across country, 3,800 miles from Bar Harbor, ME to Anacortes, WA. Brian hopes to share his love of building his own craft and traveling in it with any student that has a desire to learn.

Rodrigo Vargas

Rodrigo Vargas

Spanish Teacher

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Rodrigo Vargas

Education

  •    University of Costa Rica, B.S., in Chemical Engineering
  •    Costa Rican Bureau of Tourism, Natural History Guide Certification
  •    Highlander Research and Education Center: Civil Rights

  Experience

  •     Assistant Program Director, Eagle’s Nest Camp
  •      Naturalist Guide, Costa Rican Sun Tours
  •      International Hante Leader, Eagle’s Nest Foundation
  •      Executive Director, El Centro Comunitario Brevard

Rodrigo has served as a strong and enthusiastic leader at Eagle’s Nest Camp since 1996.  At The Outdoor Academy, Rodrigo has served as Spanish Teacher and in various leadership capacities for many years. In his teaching, Rodrigo actively shares the diversity of Latin American culture, his personal love for working with stained glass, and as a Latin-American leader in our local community.

Cara Varney

Cara Varney

Development Director

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Cara Varney

Education:

Ohio University B.S. in Outdoor Education and Recreation

Experience:

  • Challenge Course Facilitator and Camp Counselor, Adventure Education Center
  • Trips and Clinics Manager, OU Outdoor Pursuits
  • Wilderness Instructor, SOAR
  • Wilderness Instructor, ARCC
  • Outdoor Program Manager, Life Adventure Center
  • Paddling Director, Eagle’s Nest Camp 2015
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR, WMA)
  • American Canoe Association Level 3 Canoe Instructor

Cara, a North Carolina transplant from Ohio, now calls Brevard and the Blue Ridge Mountains “home”. After hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 she took the role of Paddling Director for ENC before moving to the development office full-time.

Not only is Cara a skilled paddling instructor, she’s a talented experiential educator and an avid outdoorswoman. She holds a BS in Recreation from Ohio University, and has worked in the field of outdoor education for over ten years.

Cara spends her free time paddling, climbing, and hiking, tending to her impressive garden, and baking treats for her colleagues.

Noni Waite-Kucera

Noni Waite-Kucera

Executive Director

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Noni Waite-Kucera

Education

  • Wake Forest University, B.A., Anthropology
  • Wake Forest in London Program

Experience

  • Camp Director, Eagle’s Nest Camp
  • Business Manager, Eagle’s Nest Foundation
  • Assistant Camp Director, Eagle’s Nest Camp
  • Developed Eagle’s Nest Whitewater Canoeing and Hante Bicycling Program

Noni was literally raised within the caring community of Eagle’s Nest, and she now brings that experience and sprit to the entire foundation as Executive Director.  Wether at camp, The Outdoor Academy, or in the Winston Salem Foundation office, Noni continues to build on the rich tradition of Eagle’s Nest Foundation as a leading educational institution for outdoor and experiential learning.

Ted Wesemann

Ted Wesemann

Natural Science
World History
Appalachian Craft

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Ted Wesemann

Education

  • Appalachian State University, M.S., Biology
  • Appalachian State University, B.S., Biology

Experience

  • Outdoor  Academy Director
  • Head of School, The Outdoor Academy
  • Director, Wilderness Southeast

Ted was the founding Director of The Outdoor Academy. He is serving in this position for the 2014-15 school year while devoting himself to what he loves most:  teaching and mentoring students. His knowledge of the land, history, and culture of the Southern Appalachians brings depth and quality to our academic and extracurricular programs. Ted’s personal demeanor gives students and faculty alike a sense of what it means to ‘belong’ to, and care for, a place. Many students appreciate most the way Ted shares his passion for woodworking and other historic Appalachian crafts.