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.

 
Instructors-07.png

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


Staff+Bios-04.png

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


Instructors-13.png

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.

Instructors-09.png

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.


Instructors-14.png

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.


Instructors-12.png

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!

 
TVOP Logo.png
IMG-4482.jpg

RAEI BRIDGES

Raei Bridges is a twenty-three-year old certified mindful outdoor guide and the founder of The Rusty Anvil. He is a self-taught craftsmxn and a naturalist at heart. Born and raised in the city of Los Angeles, Raei has experienced first hand the effects of nature deficit disorder, and the healing that has come from moving to the Berkshires of Massachusetts. 

In 2016 Raei participated in a Rite of Passage with the School of the Lost Borders in the Colorado Wilderness. During this time in the back country by himself, Raei came to realize his true authenticity, and find his relationship to the land in a grounding and healing way. His time on the land reaffirmed his thoughts on the deep need for humxns to return to the natural world for healing and proper evolution. This has empowered him to become an agent of change for others seeking to find their authentic journey in life, and reconnect to the land for guidance. 

In 2017 Raei moved to Massachusetts and since then has been working to bring mindful nature connection to communities throughout the Berkshires. He is a certified Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide, a certified SOLO Wilderness Medic, and an outdoor educator.  He has experience in various leadership roles and has volunteered with many organizations as a guide, data collector, and facilitator.  

Raei holds many intersectional identities and seeks to harness his personal experience to uplift others who belong to the same marginalized groups. 

As a transgender man of color, Raei seeks to use nature connection to empower and uplift queer and colored communties to become their most authentic and resilient selves, and to become fully grounded in who they are.  He is constantly on the journey to becoming fully himself and seeks to grow alongside others while creating safe space for humxn and more-than-humxn lives


78A028763AE24BBC81259F5133131451 (2).jpg

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.