MEET OUR STAFF

 

Gene Nervo

Owner & Founder

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Retired Marine Colonel Gene Nervo is the heart and soul of this operation.  As he regularly likes to remind his young staff, he has the wisdom and the vision that is needed to bring life to a program as unique as Wilderness Adventure.  After 35 years in the Marine Corp and raising 7 children, he decided to use his retirement toward the betterment of today's youth.  He spent 15 years as a boy scout leader and while he respected the organization, he knew that he could perfect the outdoor experience by building his own program.  With over 50 years of experience leading men, boys and now children of all ages, he came up with his 4 principals of success that still give added depth and perspective to our trips today.  Work ethic, communication skills, respect and a positive attitude are the foundation of every good trip and the building blocks for character and confidence in every child.

Sean Bryant

Director of Operations

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Growing up with the Blue Ridge Mountains right in his back yard, Sean has always enjoyed the adventure and tranquility found in the outdoors.  Following that passion, he has made his avocation into a vocation. Sean loves working in an environment where kayaking on the New River Gorge or biking Slick Rock in Moab is seen as career development. Of all the outdoor pursuits, climbing reigns supreme for Sean.  Climbing has taken Sean all over the globe to many world famous destinations. The most memorable to Sean are El Potrero Chico, Mexico; Cochamo Valley in Chile; the endless cracks in Moab, UT; Red Rock Canyon, NV ; Joshua Tree and Yosemite, CA; and Acadia, ME.  Of course, don’t forget his favorite local crags at the New River Gorge, Seneca and Red River Gorge.

Sean has certifications from The American Mountain Guides Association, Leave No Trace, SOLO Wilderness First Responder, and  CPR.  Sean has been a valuable member of the Wilderness Adventure staff since 2009 as one of our most beloved and good-humored trip leaders, Assistant Director of Activities Director of Activities, and now as Director of Operations.

Kait Prairie

Program Director

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Mark Gill

Director of Administration

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Kait first ventured to our program as a wide-eyed 10 year old, enthusiastic for an adventure.  Since, she has been on countless trips as a participant, an apprentice, trip leader, group leader, and is now our Program Director.  She is responsible for coordinating our  Special Events, Weddings, as well as marketing and outreach for the program.  She is also a climbing and caving instructor, and manages the hiring of our wonderful staff!  Outside of the office, she loves telling campfire stories, rock climbing, yoga, and hiking.  A graduate of the University of Vermont, Kait holds a BA in Theatre and English.  She admits to being a big ol' trekkie and finds joy in a good book, thought-provoking movies, and good conversations with great people.

 

Mark is an experienced outdoorsman.  Having studied Outdoor Recreation in college, he then took a NOLS course in the Rockies, and guided with the Youth Conservation Corps.  He then began working the Restaurant Industry, and found his way to Roanoke as a manager at Billy's in downtown.  Recently, he rediscovered his love for working in the outdoors and he joined the WA family.  Mark now manages Adventure Camp registration, as well as all of the important administrative elements of our program. Easily one of our more professionally experienced employees, he now blends his love for the outdoors with his business experience to Wilderness Adventure's great benefit.  When he's not balancing the books, Mark loves taking his own family outdoors and tears it up on disc golf courses across the country.

Jay Howard

Assistant Director of Field Staff

Base Camp Store Manager

 

 

Ruby Fernandez

Activities Director

As soon as you meet Jay, you instantly like him.  An amiable and altruistic leader, Jay has come from the well-rounded program of Nature’s Classroom.  He has worked as facilitator for them at both their New Hampshire location, the Sargent Center, as well as in Alabama atop Lookout Mountain.  He became a full time facilitator and trip leader after graduating from Hampden-Sydney College and has since excelled as both.  Jay is our Store manager, and a senior leader, as well as an avid white-water paddler and knowledgeable outdoor living skills teacher.  Demonstrating integrity and a true sense of the WA Spirit, Jay has also taken on the position of Assistant Director of Field Staff, becoming an approachable resource for the many field staff we see through each season.

Ruby found her way to Wilderness Adventure from Bogota Colombia, by way of a few amazing experiences.  Included in these were achieving a Master's in Recreation Park and Tourism Management from Western Illinois University and a 6 month tour of North America which started with a month canoeing through the Missinabie River in Canada, backpacking through the west visting diferent national parks and finished with a month of sea kayaking and backpacking in Baja California.   Ruby holds certifications as a Leave No Trace Master Educator,  in WAFA Basic climbing skills (Colombia), and has been instrumental in bringing the IMBA Instructor Certification Level 1 to Wilderness Adventure in the upcoming fall of 2016.  Ruby's Favorite Adventure Activities are Climbing and Mountain biking.  Ruby loves working at WA because "I get to do what I love in a beautiful setting plus the people are great they became my family."  Outside of adventure sports, Ruby loves schooling the staff with her Zumba skills while drinking glass bottled Coca Cola.  She hopes to one day climb in the south of France and backpack through Iceland.

'Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.' -Albert Einstein

 

Abby Williams

Boat Barn Manager

 

 

 

Fain Atkins

Group Program Manager

 

 

 

Amy Craig

Hospitality Manager

 

 

 

Nick Wilson

Caving & First Aid Manager 

 

 

 

Kevin Osbourne

Bike Barn Manager

 

 

 

 

Ben Crowley

Base Camp Manager

"Jack of all Trades"

 

 

 

Cayleigh Blackwell

Gear Barn Manager

After a a successful season with us where she completed her college internship, she graduated with flying colors from Slippery Rock University with a degree in Outdoor Recreation Management.  Her kind and thoughtful personality makes her leadership style a perfect fit for our program and we are happy to have her taking care of our boats!  As an experienced paddler herself (she is often found on the river whenever she has a spare couple of hours!) she has patiently coached both clients and fellow staff members alike to perfect their kayak roll!  During her off season from WAEL she is also a ski instructor at Holiday Valley in NY. 

 

Fain is an example of hard-work and positive attitude.  Having successfully begun her time at WA leading one of our largest groups, Woodberry Forest School, Fain has easily excelled at leading trips, encouraging fellow staff, and is now our  Group Program Manager responding to pricing requests and coordinating contracts for our Teambuilding Retreats.  She is also the spirit behind our thriving vegetable garden and collection of farm animals.  She graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Psychology and Clinical Research and Counseling.  She is also one of our outstanding senior leaders and has an enthusiasm for cats, reading, yoga, and rock climbing. 

 

Amy joined Wilderness Adventure as our Hospitality Manager.  Full of positive energy and interest in trying her hand at the adventure side of our program, she went on to become a full fledged leader and does a great job with all age groups -especially our 8-10 year olds!  She is constantly beautifying our lodges and grounds as well as taking beautiful photos seen on our website & Facebook! 

"Climb mountains not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view, climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you" -David McCullough JR

 

Nick is an avid backpacker, and he's been covering ground since high school.  He's worked at Philmont, and Wilderness Adventure leading trips, but his experience goes far beyond that:  Nick completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2013.  He went to college at William & Mary, and now spends his winters ski instructing in Red River, New Mexico.  A practical joker and a hard worker, Nick is a great member of the WA team.  He also has been trained as an EMT and brings great insights to Wilderness Medicine.

 

Kevin joined Wilderness Adventure through an internship with Slippery Rock University to teach kids what he's most passionate about: the outdoors.  He's a trip leader and mountain bike instructor, and now reigns over our fleet of Specialized hard rocks as the Bike Barn Manager.  Kevin's beloved hometown is Northfield, Ohio; he is an Eagle Scout and enjoys trail running.  He also enjoys quietly working hard, or maybe we enjoy working with him because of it...   Kevin is dependable and positive: when asked about his unique skills, he responds: "I'm really good at reaching the top shelf."  Some day he hopes to hike the John Muir Trail. 

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wild" - John Muir

Ben came to us as an intern in the coldest months of 2014 to complete his degree in Recreation and Park Management from East Carolina University.  If you've played disc golf on Base Camp in the past two years, you have this guy to thank for his ingeniously engineered course which served as his degree's final project.  After graduation Ben rejoined the staff as a full time staff member.  When asked about his favorite part of WA, he says: "It's a place where your light can make a difference, I see it happen everyday."  Ben hails from the Northeast and enjoys New England football, and prefers hiking and team building best of the Wilderness Adventure activities.  In his travels, Ben has hiked through both the South and North Islands of New Zealand, and he hopes to hike through Scotland and Ireland someday.  Ben has also been to over 100 DMB shows and he's surely not been to his last one yet.

"I will go in this way, and find my own way out." -DJM

Cayleigh burst onto the WA scene with lots of personality and experience in the Spring of 2015.  Excelling at leading groups, and infusing every situation with tons of energy, Cayleigh is one of our most sought-after Group Leaders as well as a spirited part of our year-round staff.  Anyone can tell you it takes a true sense of organization and spirit to manage the equipment we use everyday and we're happy Cayleigh has stepped up to the plate.  Cayleigh and her K9 companion Atticus come to us from the Outer Banks, she is an avid adventurer and loves a job where she can combine all of her passions.  In addition to adventure, Cayleigh likes reading, running, and busting a move on the dance floor.

Year Round Staff:

(L-R) Conor (Group Leader), Kora (Group Leader), Katie (Group Leader), David (Assistant Cook & Group Leader), Amy G (Assistant Cook), Corey (Support Staff), Nick B (Group Leader)

Not pictured (yet) : Jared, Kat, 

2016 Summer Trip Leading Staff:

(L-R): Jared, Kat, Conor, Kait, Cayleigh, Jay, Kora, Derek, Haven, Sally, Katie, Jackie, Baker, David, Ben P, Nolan