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Our History

First Light Wilderness Therapy in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia is New Vision Wilderness Therapy’s most recently established location and opened to students in 2020. Continuing with the innovative wilderness therapy and intervention programs that have been offered in Wisconsin since 2007 and Oregon since 2014, the team is committed to providing therapeutic options for struggling youths in hard-to-reach client populations on the east coast. Our founders have years of experience operating independent therapy programs and teamed up to offer a dynamic program that combines experiential therapy with intensive mental health intervention. The professional and affordable model has opened new opportunities for students and families to improve their lives in new ways led by our caring, certified staff.

The Founders

Steve Sawyer

Steve Sawyer

Steve Sawyer is a dually licensed Psychotherapist and Substance Abuse professional filled with knowledge surrounding the intervention and change process. His experience comes from over two decades of intervention with tough-to-reach client populations in therapy settings ranging from residential, community-based, outpatient, and wilderness therapy. Steve is trained in several unique therapeutic models including the cutting edge healing techniques of HeartMath and Brainspotting. Steve is recognized internationally as a leading Brainspotting trainer, consultant, and developer who trains outpatient therapists and treatment programs spanning the country. Steve also authored the Developmental Trauma-Focused Brainspotting model and offers the seminars regularly. Steve is also highly passionate about supporting the healing of intergenerational trauma in Native Indigenous communities and is trained in indigenous specialized therapeutic models like Generation Red Road and Wellbriety.

Through his experience, Steve Co-founded New Vision Wilderness in 2007 which pioneered the NVW Trauma Responsive wilderness therapy program model. This model challenged the wilderness industry to examine the utilization of trauma-sensitive principles in their approach. Steve continues his robust efforts to improve NVW by currently developing and providing a clinical training curriculum for both NVWs field staff and clinicians, regularly providing in-house consultations, facilitating our Parents Support Forum, and representing the NVW Model Nationwide in presentations.

Steve additionally works as a core therapeutic training development staff with the stress research-focused Institute of HeartMath. He was an author in the comprehensive HeartMath Interventions Establishing a New Baseline for Sustained Behavioral Change therapist training Module and the Resilient Heart: Trauma-Sensitive Resilience Building, with co-authors like Dan Siegel and the Gottman Institute. Both programs models pushed modern cutting-edge therapy interventions to integrate an emotional physiology approach. Through his dedication and efforts, Steve earned the esteemed Humanitarian Heart Award from HeartMath in November of 2018.

Steve’s training, seminars, and lectures are recognized nationwide for cutting-edge therapeutic techniques and inspiration. Throughout his career, Steve has worked in collaboration with the experts in the Trauma field like Bessel Van Der Kolk, Gabor Mate, Stephan Porges, David Grand, and Joe Spinazzola. In 2019 NVW completed the largest study of its kind on physiology in youth trauma treatment with the Trauma Center of Boston.

When is not traveling, working, or spending time with his family, Steve is an avid waterman either being a Spearo (Freediving Spear Fisherman) on his boat Poseidon’s Assassin or harvesting the rivers as an avid Fly Fisherman.

Drew Hornbeck

Drew Hornbeck

Stay tuned, my bio is coming soon!

Clinical Team

Emily Smith

Emily Smith, MSW, LCSWA, LMSW

Primary Therapist

Emily comes to First Light with an excitement that has been driven since her early years in undergraduate education, when she first learned about wilderness therapy. From the moment that she knew that there was an industry that coupled her two passions, empowering young people and being submersed in nature, she knew that she had to be a part of it. Emily earned her bachelor’s in social work at Western Illinois University and her master’s degree in social work from Aurora University. She first began her work with young people and their families at a state-operated residential treatment program, where she quickly saw how interaction with nature, or a lack of such contact, can impact the health, development, and overall well-being of those who are finding their way in the world.

Emily has experienced a variety of roles while working in the wilderness therapy industry, from direct care as field staff, logistical support, working with canines, supporting families, and serving as a clinical intern while completing her degree. She steps into her clinical role with awareness of the value that each component of the wilderness experience contributes to a student’s growth and progress. Emily’s clinical focus begins first and foremost through building relationship and trust with her students. She believes that there is no better avenue for healing than a strong relational approach coupled with thoughtful and intentional harnessing of the naturally powerful wilderness setting. Emily enjoys exploring with her family and their dogs, a good game of cards, and singing, dancing and listening to any and all music whenever the opportunity arises.

Kayla Davenport

Kayla Davenport, MS

Primary Therapist

Kayla comes to First Light with a passion for wilderness therapy and family programming. She received her BS in Psychology and MS in Community Counseling from University of North Georgia (then North Georgia College and State University). She completed her practicum and internship at an all-girls boarding school and stayed there for 3 years. For 15 years now, she has worked in education or adolescent development in some capacity from university, all-girls then an all-boys boarding school, and wilderness programs. She has a background in individual, group, and family therapies. As part of her training as a trauma responsive therapist, Kayla is phase I Brainspotting trained.

The therapeutic focus she brings to First Light is diverse. She holds family systems and teaching assertive communication as a cornerstone in any work that she does. This passion for bringing families together and bridging the gaps that develop as adolescents differentiate, struggle, and grow is essential in developing sustainability within an adolescent’s treatment.

Personally, Kayla has her hands full with two small children. This means a lot of gymnastics, basketball practice, and balancing chaos. She and her family love to dance, watch movies, and be as active as possible both indoors and out!

Mycala Cherry

Mycala Cherry, MS, APC, NCC

Primary Therapist

Mycala is a nationally certified counselor who comes to First Light Wilderness with a diverse mix of clinical and wilderness experience. She earned her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Georgia State University, and has worked in residential, wilderness, outpatient, and telehealth settings. Mycala is certified in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) certified and in Phase 1 Brainspotting.
Mycala’s passion for using the natural world as a tool for growth and healing grew in her time as a field guide in wilderness treatment programs, as well as during her time leading outdoor trips for leadership development and teambuilding during college. She has experience facilitating high ropes Challenge Course activities as well as leading expeditions with teens in Alaska, where she also focused on facilitating the development of self-awareness and outdoor education.

As a wilderness therapist, Mycala draws on the lessons of the natural world in provoking insight with her teen clients. Mycala’s clients are most often experiencing issues with depression, anxiety, trauma, family dynamics and communication, attachment, and ADHD. She enjoys sharing her passion for creative interventions, as well as using an intentional focus on improving group dynamics as a tool for mirroring how her clients can better understand their role and responsibilities in both family and peer relationships. Mycala believes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach in her clinical work, and is deeply invested in understanding each client and family’s struggles and strengths in order to identify the best opportunities for growth and healing.

In her spare time, Mycala loves to play volleyball and coaches on a nationally competitive travel team.

Kathleen Jamilla Minnifield

Kathleen Jamila Minnifield, LAPC, NCC

Primary Therapist

Jamila joined the First Light Wilderness clinical team in 2021. She is primarily focused on working with our younger students, both male and female. Jamila earned her undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern University and her master’s degree in Counseling at Argosy University.

Jamila’s clinical experience is extensive, and she is well-versed in working with a a broad range of clinical and family issues, having worked in Georgia’s foster care system with complex medical and mental health diagnoses, focusing on family reunification and adoption. Jamila’s desire to increase family engagement in therapy led her to incorporate the outdoors and physical movement in order to increase impact and improve outcomes. After 8 years of clinical and case management experience, she immersed herself in wilderness treatment for 2 years, working in direct care with students, as well as facilitating family intensives.

Jamila is passionate about working with younger boys/girls/non-binary students, with individuals with Autism Spectrum diagnoses, learning disabilities, transracial and intercultural adoption, and both episodic and systemic trauma. Her approach is playful and creative, and she is intensively trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy and Mindfulness, as well as in non-violent crisis prevention and de-escalation techniques, parent coaching, grief/loss, complex trauma, and sexual trauma.

Jamila is also passionate about increasing BIPOC representation and promoting increased diversity in the field of wilderness therapy, and hopes to have an impact on those who might not otherwise feel represented. She actively works to address the complex issues related to trans-racial adoption and is highly proficient in teaching healthy boundaries, family conflict resolution and positive communication. In her free time, you will likely find Jamila hiking with her dogs or fly-fishing.

Leadership Team

Dr. Ryan Patterson

Dr. Ryan Patterson

Medical Director

Ryan Paterson attended the University of Vermont School of Medicine and completed his Emergency Medicine Residency and Fellowship in Wilderness/Altitude/Expedition Medicine at Denver Health Medical Center/the University of Colorado, USA. He also holds advanced certifications in Tropical Medicine from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) and in Mountain Medicine (DiMM). He is a practicing, board-certified Emergency Physician for Kaiser Permanente at St Joseph’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, USA, and associate professor at the University of Colorado in the Department of Emergency Medicine section of Wilderness, Environmental and Expedition Medicine.

In leisure, Ryan loves to spend time outdoors with his spouse and two children. He is an avid traveler, climber, and a former distance athlete.

Dr. Paterson is the founder and director of Emergency Medical Providers (EMP) a leader in the provision of remote medical support and expedition medical direction. Ryan is co-founder and former director for the Wilderness Medical Society Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) course. Ryan also has significant experience in large-race/event medical management. He serves as medical director for GlobalLimits and has medically-directed multiple GlobalLimits events. He is the current United States delegate to the International Society of Mountain Medicine (ISMM). Ryan founded the FLuME foundation and serves as medical director for Kolkata City Mission (KCM) working through both organizations to establish sustainable development solutions in education, health, women’s empowerment, micro-enterprise, and public-health for informal communities in and around Kolkata, India. Combining all of his training and passion, Dr. Paterson has worked in Disaster Relief efforts in both post-earthquake Nepal and with the UN in Iraq. Additionally, Dr. Paterson is an altitude researcher, expedition physician, mountain emergency medicine educator, and guide.

Jeff Holloway

Jeff Holloway, MSW

Executive Director

Jeff found his love for working with adolescents while tutoring under-privileged children as an undergraduate, and this experience influenced his decision to major in social work. Jeff earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of South Dakota, and then his Master’s in Social Work at the University of Iowa. For the next decade, Jeff specialized in working with issues related to childhood trauma in a variety of treatment settings, including residential treatment, in-home services, foster care, and outpatient therapy. In 2002, Jeff relocated with his family from Iowa to Georgia, where he worked in administrative roles at a therapeutic boarding school, a therapeutic wilderness program and a boarding school specializing in learning disabilities. These experiences further honed his expertise in working with adolescents and with complex family systems. His desire to help families find the right treatment options for their children led him to educational and therapeutic consulting, where he helped to facilitate hundreds of therapeutic placements.

Of joining the First Light Wilderness team, Jeff stated, “Having the opportunity to join the family of New Vision Wilderness programs and to return to working directly with children and families refuels the fire that was started over 20 years ago when I discovered how powerfully healing working in nature with a group of kids could be. I am so excited to work with this incredible team of professionals to provide healing, growth and service to families at First Light. “ Jeff has lived in North Georgia since 2002 with his wife, Debi, and their three college-aged children. When not working, Jeff enjoys golfing, practicing martial arts, and driving through the mountains on his Harley.

Drew Hornbeck, co-founder and CEO of New Vision Wilderness, stated, “I couldn’t be more excited to have Jeff’s leadership at First Light Wilderness. He brings a depth of knowledge and industry experience to the team, and represents many of the core values that we hold at New Vision, particularly those of trusting relationships and evidence-based outcomes. He has a proven ability to work effectively with others, and his leadership is a critical component to ensuring the best possible experience for children and families who trust us to deliver high quality treatment.”

Jeff can be reached at: Jeffrey.holloway@nvwild.com.

Jean Coyle

Jean Coyle

Field Director

Jean began her career in the outdoors when she was attending Loyola University Maryland by leading outdoor trips for incoming freshman as well as fellow students. During this time, she began volunteering with Outward Bound and working with the Police Youth Program. It was then, that she realized that she wanted to find ways to use the outdoors as a platform to discuss decision making skills, communication skills and self-worth. When she graduated in 2017, she accepted a position as an apprentice with North Carolina Outward Bound School’s Family in Need of Services (FINS) program in central and southern Florida. These courses were geared towards youth who were considered at-risk by the state of Florida and were at a fork in their lives, similar to many of our students here at First Light. During her three years at FINS she was a lead instructor, course director as well as a staff trainer. This environment and family that she was a part of facilitated the joy and excitement she has for working with our children and families. After her time at FINS Jean went on to work at SUWS of the Carolinas as a field guide as she began to dip her toes in the North Carolina Forest. In October of 2020 Jean joined our community here at First Light as our Field Director. When asked what keeps her coming back day after day for over three and a half years now she says it is two parts, first the privilege that it is to be there for a kiddos difficult moments when they are yelling or breaking down and thus be sitting right next to them when they are building themselves back up. Secondly, it is the staff that show up time after time for not only the children but also for themselves and their co-staff. Jean identifies that she has had the privilege of seeing the wilderness foster environments of growth for both children and their families and that is why she keeps coming back. During her free time Jean likes to whitewater kayak and ride her bike with her friends.

Mary Jo degrandi

Mary Jo DeGrandi

Senior Director of Professional Relations

Mary Jo brings more than 20 years of experience in therapeutic settings to her role at First Light Wilderness. She began her career as a child advocate, working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in native Alaskan communities, where she discovered how impactful it could be to provide therapeutic treatment in outdoor settings. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Ecopsychology and Child Development from Antioch New England University, and subsequent roles included facilitating growth-focused young adult expeditions abroad, working as a wilderness therapist and as a clinician in therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment.

Mary Jo’s career has remained centered around serving children and complex family systems in a variety of treatment and community-based settings. Her outgoing nature and desire to build relationships and connect with others led her to roles in clinical outreach, admissions, and business development, with the goal of increasing awareness of and access to treatment options. Mary Jo believes strongly in engaging with others from a place of compassion and integrity, whether that be with a referral partner, a colleague or a family in need of treatment.

Mary Jo is married with 2 young children and 2 young adult stepsons. She is a passionate Italian cook who loves hiking around the woods of Vermont, traveling and exploring new places, listening to live music, getting her hands dirty in the garden, and enjoying time with family.

Brandon Olson

Brandon Olson

Director of Operations

Brandon’s combined passion for service and for the outdoors has been a driving force throughout his career. After graduating with a degree in Outdoor and Environmental Education from Johnson State College in Vermont, Brandon joined the Peace Corp, where he spent 2 years training young service guides in environmental education at a nature reserve in Nicaragua.

Upon his return to the U.S., Brandon spent time teaching and leading expeditions for an alternative school in New Hampshire. His passion working with young people in the outdoors led him to the mountains of Colorado, where he worked as the Program Director at San Juan Wilderness Therapy for 4 years.

In 2010, Brandon moved back to New England to be closer to family. Brandon expanded his experience serving at-risk populations by working as a Probation and Parole Officer for 5 years, followed by 2 years working at the Vermont Department of Health, where he managed State and Federal grants for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs. He subsequently became the Program Director at Central Vermont Addiction Medicine, an Opioid Treatment Program serving more than 500 people. His experience working with at-risk populations, his extensive knowledge of substance abuse and recovery, and his passion for the outdoors ultimately led to his desire to return to wilderness therapy. His capacity to lead, teach, and manage both people and systems are perfectly suited to his role managing the operations of a wilderness treatment program.

On a personal level, Brandon continues to deepen his own love of outdoor experiences through rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and camping. In addition, he has a love for competitive obstacle course racing (OCR), and has competed twice in the OCR World Championships. Brandon lives in Dahlonega with his wife, 9-year-old step-son, and 2 dogs, all of whom are excitedly awaiting the arrival of a new baby in June 2021.

Admissions Team

Mary Jo degrandi

Mary Jo DeGrandi

Senior Director of Professional Relations

Mary Jo brings more than 20 years of experience in therapeutic settings to her role at First Light Wilderness. She began her career as a child advocate, working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in native Alaskan communities, where she discovered how impactful it could be to provide therapeutic treatment in outdoor settings. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Ecopsychology and Child Development from Antioch New England University, and subsequent roles included facilitating growth-focused young adult expeditions abroad, working as a wilderness therapist and as a clinician in therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment.

Mary Jo’s career has remained centered around serving children and complex family systems in a variety of treatment and community-based settings. Her outgoing nature and desire to build relationships and connect with others led her to roles in clinical outreach, admissions, and business development, with the goal of increasing awareness of and access to treatment options. Mary Jo believes strongly in engaging with others from a place of compassion and integrity, whether that be with a referral partner, a colleague or a family in need of treatment.

Mary Jo is married with 2 young children and 2 young adult stepsons. She is a passionate Italian cook who loves hiking around the woods of Vermont, traveling and exploring new places, listening to live music, getting her hands dirty in the garden, and enjoying time with family.

Field Team

The Field Team includes outdoor experts with an array of professional and personal experience. Our field guides are at the heart of our caregiving team and bring expertise in safety and risk management, as well as compassion for struggling youth, enthusiasm for utilizing the outdoors as a catalyst for positive change, and a sense of pride in their ability to build rapport and relationship. They frequently bring creative use of natural resources to individualized interventions and a curiosity and passion for learning how to draw out a young person’s strengths as well as to support them in facing their challenges.

Maureen fitzgerald

Maureen Fitzgerald

Field Specialist

Maureen Fitzgerald, known as “Moe,” is a Lead Field Staff at First Light Wilderness. Her primary focus is providing safety and structure to our students through our treatment model, CASA. Maureen demonstrates this by implementing a fun, healthy environment for students and staff to explore their strengths and weaknesses.

Fitzgerald graduated from Western Illinois University and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration. She came to First Light more than a year ago after serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Since then, she has been dedicated to the growth of our organization, the students, and herself, and believes that the benefits of being in nature can provide growth and development in all aspects of our everyday lives. Maureen’s motto is: Let’s make this world a better place through one act of patience, love, kindness and compassion toward one person at a time!

In her spare time, Fitzgerald likes to practice yoga, read, cook, and go on excursions.

Jason Lyle

Jason Lyle

Field Staff

Jason loves people and loves the outdoors. His life and work experiences are broad, and include teaching middle school social studies in the public school system, working with kids in children’s homes in Georgia, teaching Dalit pastors in India, and working with an orphanage in Uganda creating systems of sustainable economic growth, to name a few. Jason simply has a desire to help people. He also has a great love of the outdoors and enjoys spending as much time as possible exploring and enjoying nature. His experience with Boy Scouts ignited a love for anything to do with being outside, and he has extensive experience in doing so. Jason holds an undergraduate degree in Christian Theology, and a Graduate degree in International Community Development. For recreation Jason enjoys hunting, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, running, reading good books, and cooking with his wife.

Jake Stibbe

Jake Stibbe

Field Staff

Jake Stibbe, BFA, is a Wilderness Field Instructor at First Light Wilderness. His primary focus is practicing the CASA model with his students in order to demonstrate and instill the practice of creating healthy relationships. Jake is certified as a Wilderness First Responder and is always attuned to the physical, emotional, and relational safety of each member of his group.

Stibbe graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College and was working in the outdoor industry with Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School for the past year before coming to First Light in 2020. Since then, he has continued to find moments of joy with his students, feeling honored to be a part of each students’ therapeutic journey.

One of Stibbe’s most outstanding qualities he brings into the field is his emphasis on creating and maintaining a fun and joyous atmosphere. He continues to provide a space for learning and growth while simultaneously holding himself to a similar growth mindset.

Abbie B

Abigail Billingsley

Field Staff

Abbie was born in Texas and fell in love with the outdoors at a very young age. Her passion for the outdoors has led her to explore every rock, river, nook, and cranny that this beautiful world has to offer. Her own experiences with nature as a facilitator of healing led her to pursue wilderness therapy as a career, wanting to share that experience with other young people. Abbie earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas, and briefly pursued a career in communications and marketing. She quickly realized that she wanted more connection and adventure than was being met by a 40 hour/week desk job, so she found wilderness therapy and has not looked back. Abbie is passionate about introducing others to the wonders of nature and following them through their own personal journeys and all of the highs and lows that come with it, including the increased self-awareness, self-confidence, and a-ha moments. In her free time, Abbie loves to kayak, rock climb, ride her bike or just watch movies with her puppy. Her favorite quote is from J.R.R Tolkein: “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

Haley Goodman

Haley Goodman

Field Staff

Haley grew up on the east coast, spending much of her childhood in the outdoors–hiking, kayaking, camping, swimming, and playing with any animals she could find. She studied Agricultural Science and Environmental Systems at the University of Georgia, where she was a member of the UGA diving team. She applies that level of passion and discipline to her work as as field guide. Haley is passionate about using the healing properties of nature in her work with young people, and sees wilderness therapy as an opportunity to introduce young people to connection with the Earth as a tool for mindfulness and growth, as well as to facilitate mutual regard and acceptance among the students with whom she works.

Trinity Veach

Trinity Veach

Field Staff

Trinity was raised near the ocean and in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. She found a passion for travel and has backpacked thousands of miles across the US and around the world. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Trinity broadened her experience and passion for helping others through working with adults with developmental disabilities. Her work as a field guide with First Light is a role to which she brings an enthusiasm for caregiving, living outdoors, and helping young people find happiness and health in the deeply healing simplicity of the woods.

Jean Coyle

Jean Coyle

Field Director

Jean began her career in the outdoors when she was attending Loyola University Maryland by leading outdoor trips for incoming freshman as well as fellow students. During this time, she began volunteering with Outward Bound and working with the Police Youth Program. It was then, that she realized that she wanted to find ways to use the outdoors as a platform to discuss decision making skills, communication skills and self-worth. When she graduated in 2017, she accepted a position as an apprentice with North Carolina Outward Bound School’s Family in Need of Services (FINS) program in central and southern Florida. These courses were geared towards youth who were considered at-risk by the state of Florida and were at a fork in their lives, similar to many of our students here at First Light. During her three years at FINS she was a lead instructor, course director as well as a staff trainer. This environment and family that she was a part of facilitated the joy and excitement she has for working with our children and families. After her time at FINS Jean went on to work at SUWS of the Carolinas as a field guide as she began to dip her toes in the North Carolina Forest. In October of 2020 Jean joined our community here at First Light as our Field Director. When asked what keeps her coming back day after day for over three and a half years now she says it is two parts, first the privilege that it is to be there for a kiddos difficult moments when they are yelling or breaking down and thus be sitting right next to them when they are building themselves back up. Secondly, it is the staff that show up time after time for not only the children but also for themselves and their co-staff. Jean identifies that she has had the privilege of seeing the wilderness foster environments of growth for both children and their families and that is why she keeps coming back. During her free time Jean likes to whitewater kayak and ride her bike with her friends.

Luke Cottom

Luke Cottom

Field Staff

Stay tuned, my bio is coming soon!

Henry Thomas

Henry Thomas

Field Staff

An avid reader and outdoor enthusiast, Henry spends his free time near the river, in the woods, or reading a book. He began his foray into the outdoor industry through white water rafting on the Chattooga River, where he learned that wilderness can be a powerful force for growth of self-awareness and self-confidence. He gravitated towards wilderness therapy after having experienced the joy of teaching about the outdoors. Henry’s passion and dedication as a field guide is based in his desire to improve the mental health of at-risk youth, and to provide experiences of connection and healing to young people who otherwise feel disconnected and alone.

Steven nutt

Steven Nutt

Field Staff

Steven Nutt is from the north suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and has a passion for helping all types of people in an outdoor setting. He graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration and a double minor in communication and outdoor leadership. Steve has worked in the outdoor industry for seven years with experience in guiding wilderness expeditions, directing outdoor recreation program for at-risk youth and people with developmental disabilities as well as after school programs and summer camps. In his off time, Steve loves to canoe, kayak, car camp, travel and find live music.

Raquel Leal

Raquel Leal

Field Staff

Raquel Leal is an outdoor enthusiast and has been in the recreation industry since 2015. She enjoys helping people of all ability levels and providing exposure to the outdoors. She has been passionate about inclusion ever since her first summer camp counselor/care giver position at Camp Red Leaf. After completing her bachelor’s degree at Western Illinois University in RPTA (Recreation, Parks and Tourism), she has been looking for ways to help introduce the wilderness to others that haven’t had the accessibility to it. She enjoys canoeing, kayaking, and hiking as leisure activities. She also has a love for all animals and hope to adopt a dog one day!

Keiyanna Sealey Woodard

Keiyanna Sealey Woodard

Field Staff

After exploring over 20 National Parks and Monuments across the United States, Keiyanna has a keenly developed appreciation and passion for teaching, learning and implementing thoughtful and engaging curricula in an outdoor setting. She brings her own love of learning to her role as a field guide at First Light and is inspired to keep students safe both physically and emotionally, as well as to support them in building healthy relationships and empowering each student to reach for the best version of themselves. Keiyanna earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology at the University of Georgia and her Master of Arts degree in Anthropology at Georgia State University. She is enthralled by the study of what it is to be human and the human experience in all of its beauty and challenges. She also brings a specialty in forensic entomology to her role as a field guide and loves instilling curiosity in students.

Jillian Haviland

Jillian Haviland

Field Staff

Stay tuned, my bio is coming soon!

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