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The VonWichmans, Alaska Explorer
Brad and Alex VonWichman, captains and owners of the M/V Babkin and M/V Alexandra on our Alaska Explorer tour of Prince William Sound, are brother and sister from one of the most well-respected families of Whittier and Anchorage. When the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred the VonWichmans were among the first on the scene to assist with the clean up. (Brad met his wife Kjersti working on the oil spill clean-up.) Today, Alex, Brad and Kjersti make their living piloting their two boats, the Babkin and the Alexandra based out of Whittier. The VonWichmans have operated our custom charters in Prince William Sound for private groups of Wildland Adventures travelers for more than a decade. They also hire out as a research vessel for the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Corps of Engineers, universities, and the US Geological Survey, mostly driven by Valdez oil spill funded research. These voyages with research scientists have given the VonWichmans unique insights into the wildlife and ecology of Prince William Sound that compliments their intimate knowledge of the sea and fishery that they share with our passengers. Kjersti was part of the Olympic ski team of Norway. During the winter when the boat is buried in 30' of snow they teach skiing at the Aleyska Ski Resort and vacation in the tropics!
Marce Branniff, Inside Passage Adventure Voyages
Wild places of the world—those thoughts became ever more prevalent as Captain Marce pursued a degree in environmental geography at Clark University in Massachusetts. The ability to travel, experience different cultures and destinations is a geographer’s dream job. Unsurprisingly, when the opportunity to join a small ship traveling to remote places arose more than 15 years ago—conducting oceanographic and hydrographic research in the South Pacific, Southern Ocean, and east coast between BVI and New England—she climbed aboard and without looking back began a seagoing career. Marce also worked on salmon habitat restoration for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington, prompting an invitation to become an honorary member of the Yakima Indian Nation. And during her career, she has received two USCG Public Service Commendations. Captain Marce is a natural explorer. Hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a cross-country road trip on her Harley, and a bucket list that includes hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada is testament. You may find her sailing, deep in the woods with backpack and compass, reading tales of other’s adventures… or camped out at a poker table, and if you’re at the table too, be sure to bring your A game.
Jeff Kalbach, Inside Passage Adventure Voyages
Born with flippers—okay that might be a stretch, but Captain Jeff has spent his life passion in and on the waters of this vast planet we call earth. Along with a bachelor’s degree in biology and agronomy from California Polytechnic State University, he’s a PADI open water scuba instructor, and has 15 years experience as master and operations manager for a privately owned yacht and several small ship cruise lines. Known for his entertaining nature and attention to detail—as master of the ship in Alaska, rest assured that you’ll be in good hands. As a whale aficionado, it’s no fluke Jeff worked with the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation for years. Aside from marine mammal research, his interests include environmental education and conservation, travel, and working out at the gym. He has experience with Belugas, Sperm, blue, grey and right whales in Argentina, and spends his free time on or in the water studying whales, dolphins, turtles, and sharks. And just for the “chill” of it—he did a scuba dive in Antarctica!
Kristin Roth, Inside Passage Adventure Voyages
You’ve heard the old saying, “wherever I lay my hat...” well, “wherever her jeep takes her”—that’s where Kristin calls home. She grew up in New Jersey, has lived in Chile, and let us stress, loves to travel. Globetrotting for both work and play, Kristin has combed the planet exploring faraway places from North, Central and South America to Western Europe. She is a graduate of Villanova University with degrees in sociology and elementary education. Among her many accomplishments, Kristen holds a 100 Ton Near Coastal Master license, and certifications for Able Seaman, Wilderness First Responder, CPR, and K-8 teaching. Previous jobs she’s held range from naturalist guide to chief mate and outdoor education program coordinator to cook. Lucky for us our chefs are so awesome… she claims that’s why she joined our team! Kristin is also passionate about hiking, kayaking, biking, sailing, exploring (pretty much anything outside), good coffee and wine, and she has a fondness for dark chocolate. Rumor also has it that she has eleven toes (we think not), but perhaps that’s how she’s come so far. If you can go toe to toe with her, maybe you’ll learn her secret.
Jackie Hedgpeth, Inside Passage Adventure Voyages
“On the go” Jackie grew up on the southern Oregon coast in Coos Bay and for the past 20 years has lived in Bothell, Washington. This currently tenured college instructor has many wilderness tales to tell… fishing expeditions with up-close bear encounters; shark diving in Tahiti; snorkeling with humpback whales in Dominican Republic; and animal encounters galore in the Arctic, Antarctica, Galápagos, Africa, and other fascinating places. Master degrees in biology and health science from Mississippi State and University of Oregon, along with PADI rescue diver, teaching, NRA-rifle, and USCG boaters certifications has presented Jackie with a colorful career—wildlife and underwater photographer, naturalist, K-12 teacher, music director, pianist and organist. Over the years, Jackie has enjoyed giving wildlife presentations on cruise ships and leading outdoor adventures. The best part for her is searching for and viewing wildlife, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, sharing insights and enhancing your appreciation of places. For this fire cracker, we’re convinced there aren’t enough hours in the day! Jackie loves adventure and lives to be underwater with cameras, but has plenty of other interests that occupy her as well… skiing (water and snow), boating, theater, ballroom dancing, gardening, and golfing. And she has these words of wisdom for you, “Never leave the room without your camera or binoculars!”
Kimber Owen, Alaska Glacier Bay Adventure
Kimber, owner and captain of the M/V Sea Wolf, has a variety of life experiences with people, horses and wildlife. She grew up in a hotel restaurant family learning fine restaurant skills from being a cook to handling marketing. Before moving to Alaska she owned/operated an equine facility and worked with individuals with disabilities in therapeutic riding. She has participated in many equine and wildlife studies nurturing her love for nature and the conservation of wildlife habitat. Alaska has always been in her heart. A romantic historical ship plying the coasts of Alaska & British Columbia - showing people the wonders of nature - what better life could there be!
Anne Beaulaurier, Camp Denali
Anne Beaulaurier began working in Denali in 2002, and moved permanently to the area the following year. Originally from Seattle, where she felt cheated out of the romantic snowy winters of books and movies, she enjoys the long cold season in Denali as much as the vibrant summer days. In the wintertime, her favorite mode of transportation is skiing, whether for commuting to work, being pulled around on the local trails by her retired sled dog, Keno, or crossing the Alaska Range on multi-day trips. As Program Coordinator, she is likely to be found lining up guest speakers, arranging the daily hike plans, guiding a hike, driving one of the buses, washing dishes in the kitchen, picking gallons of blueberries or baking bread for her fellow office-mates.
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