Our Instructors

Meet the talented Venture Out instructors who make these amazing trips what they are.  We wouldn't what what we are without their tireless dedication to wilderness stewardship, adventurous spirit and endless knowledge of the outdoors.

 
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MERCY SHAMMAH

Mercy (she/her/hers)  loves being outdoors in the Pacific NW. She hopes to cultivate an outdoor community putting POC and Queers front and center. She wants to be a part of the facilitating a comfortable safe spaces for POC and Queers to thrive in the outdoors in the Portland, Oregon area and beyond. As an Outdoorist she knows there is hundreds of ways one can enjoy being in nature. She loves a good outdoor immersion weekend and believes in the healing abilities that nature provides. Her mission is to promote those who have been pushed aside by today’s dominate society—supporting them in their growth, healing and love of the outdoors. WILD DIVERSITY


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Tam Willey

Tam is Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.  Tam has first hand experience of the healing benefits of spending time in nature. Through an evolving love for outdoor adventure such as hiking, backpacking, camping, snowboarding, cross country skiing, and surfing Tam has spent extensive time outside, particularly in the White Mountains of NH. Working locally as a self employed Handy Person as well as a teacher and custodian at The Eliot School, Tam is very connected to the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain where Tam has lived since 1998. 

Volunteering as an Adult Support Volunteer at BAGLY (Boston's Alliance of LGBTQ Youth) since 2010 and having worked 8 seasons with The Theater Offensive's True Colors: Out Youth Theater, Tam has extensive experience working with LGBTQ youth in Boston.  In 2016 Tam thru-hiked Vermont's Long Trail and raised money and awareness for TVOP.  Tam holds CRP, First Aid and WFA Certifications and is currently focused on creating more inclusive and accessible Guided Forest Bathing Walks for all by offering structured support in finding one's own way towards experiencing belonging to the natural world.  For more information about Tam and Forest Bathing, check out the website: ToadstoolWalks.com


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LOREN EVANS

Loren (he/him/his) is a self identified ragamuffin queer who is unequivocally obsessed with being in the mountains. Born in the Northwest, he grew up backpacking with his family. He currently lives in Denver Colorado where he spends most of his time burning up the highway to find the next mountain paradise.  He will eat key lime pie till he’s blue in the face, and love making cards.  Some of his hobbies are, split boarding, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, river floating, backpacking, and losing his chapstick.  He loves to meet new people, and hear about how the outdoors enriches their lives. Loren is a Nationally Registered licensed Paramedic, and Registered Nurse who specializes in Emergency Medicine.

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OLIVER REITZ

Oliver (he/him/his)is originally from Indiana, where he spent his youth climbing trees and swimming with catfish. As an adult, he spent years leading LGBT organizations and promoting LGBT education and advocacy all over Southern Indiana. At the age of 26, Oliver moved to Massachusetts where he got involved with The Venture Out Project from the start and rediscovered his love of the outdoors. He has since become passionate about hiking, backpacking, and map-reading. Oliver lives with his partner and their two dogs and is currently enrolled in school, where he is finishing his degree in Health Education and Promotion. He spends his free time hiking his favorite trails in Western Massachusetts and discovering new ones.


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KATE NOLAN

My name is Kate Nolan (she/her/hers) and I am a cofounder of DNK Presents, Trek Bicycle Women’s Advocate and Leave No Trace trainer. Getting outside has always been a passion of mine and I love sharing that with others. I believe we need a connection to nature in order to live a happy, healthy and balanced lives. I grew up camping, backpacking, skiing, trail running and racing BMX and mountain bikes. I believe my bond with nature has helped me to excel in my professional career, to overcome obstacles personally and professionally and the spiritual gain has been profound.


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GRAHAM OXMAN

Graham (he/him/his) lives in Brighton, MA, but dreams of gallivanting around the world with all his belongings in a backpack. He loves biking, hiking, climbing and kayaking. He is also a proud nerd; lover of rocks and science, and an aspiring potter. Graham is a teacher by day, and an multi-tasking super fiend by night. Graham also collects useless (but fun!) trivia, so if you know a cool fact, he'd love to hear it!

 
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RAEI BRIDGES

Raei Bridges (he/they) is a 24 year old mindful outdoor guide of West African and European descent. He is the founder of The Rusty Anvil, where he reconnects people of color and folks in the LGBTQ+ community to their place within themselves and the natural world through mindful wilderness trips and nature-based skills gatherings. He focuses on ways that racism, transphobia/homophobia, and oppression has served as a tool to exclude people of color and LGBTQ+ communities from the historiography of the outdoor field and has led to negative and unsafe experiences in association with land and wild spaces. These experiences have pushed people of color and LGBTQ+ communities heavily into urban and industrialized spaces and away from a relationship to the natural world, and has contributed to the many physical and mental illnesses commonly seen within nature deficient communities. Through The Rusty Anvil, Raei Bridges works with nature connection as a means of self-discovery, healing, and resistance to oppression. Follow Raei and The Rusty Anvil on instagram @the_rusty_anvil and check out The-rusty-anvil.land for more gatherings and workshops! 


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JESSE YELVINGTON

Jesse (they/them/he/him) is a queer trans Hufflepuff who loves nothing more than mountains and cats (if you can find a way to experience the two together, please let Jesse know). Jesse grew up in New Mexico, and loves the smells of roasting green chile and rain soaked desert dirt. Jesse is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, and loves climbing, backpacking, hiking, traveling, rafting, hot-spring-ing, and pretty much anything else that gets them outside. Jesse also cares deeply about poetry, and completed a thesis on the ways that poetry can create community and empower queer and trans people.