The Staff for Trackers Earth Portland
The full-time educators of Trackers Portland includes experienced skills instructors on the leading edge of place-based education. We are a family of professionals who's goal is superlative competence in our field.
For more information on how we hire, vet and background check both our full-time and seasonal staff for youth camp programs please refer to our blog about our safety policies philosophies and procedures.
Tony Deis Founder and Company Director
Place of Origin Eugene, Oregon
Team Affiliations Trackers Earth
Superpowers Tracking, Operational Logistics
Origin Story Tony has studied outdoor skills and concepts of sustainability since a very young age. As a teenager he cultivated a 3/4 acre market garden based on principles of permaculture design and the study of ecology through tracking. The extensive Italian family Tony grew up with was one of the greatest influences on his core philosophy of the value of community and family. At the Evergreen State College his focus was how humans connect to the land around them through participatory experiences.
This, coupled with over 20 years of extensive work and cutting edge development as a contractor and consultant in the field of environmental education, lead him to found Trackers Earth. Based on his work, research and experience in survival, bushcraft, traditional skills and tracking, Tony also taught extensively for the graduate sustainability program at Portland State University, including founding their Naturalist Training Program. He has facilitated wildlife tracking, outdoor entrepreneurial and adventure education workshops for the Forest Service, Audubon Society of Portland, countless parks and interpretation agencies, universities, colleges and much more. He is also a high end consultant for other outdoor education organizations concerning their safety, organizational and outreach policies. In his free time, Tony enjoys exploring the wilderness near his home, tracking bobcat, bear, elk and deer with his new son, Robin, strapped in his snuggly pack.
Molly Strand Deis Founder, Registrar and Youth Instructor
Codenames High Elf Queen of Admin
Guild Wilders Guild
Place of Origin Salem, Oregon
Team Affiliations Willamette Falls Symphony, Central Oregon Symphony, Davidson College, Tulen Center Bend, Swirves Utopia (online text based game), The Goats at the Trackers Homestead
Superpowers Milking Goats, Beekeeping, Puttering in the Garden, Online Gaming, Finding Treasure, Sci-Fi Nerddom, Admin, Cheery Phone Conversations
Origin Story A native Oregonian, Molly received her Bachelors degree in German from Davidson College in North Carolina and spent a year in Germany, also traveling throughout much of Western Europe. She spends her time between Portland and Sandy, where she and her husband (Tony) live, and keeps busy herding goats, wrangling chickens, planning gardens and wandering the woods.
Molly is also an avid cellist and plays in the Willamette Falls Symphony. One of the "voices of Trackers" you probably spoke with her regarding any one of the Trackers programs. Molly and Tony welcomed their first child, Robin, during the 2010 holidays and he sure keeps them busy!
Maude Bowman Mariners Guild Coordinator & Youth Instructor
Codenames Mad Maude, Captain, Commodore, Maude the Red Scourge of the Seven Seas
Place of Origin Portland, Oregon
Team Affiliations Trackers, Portland Parks and Recreation: Environmental Education, Portland Kayak Company
Superpowers Kayaking, Waterworks, Chaos Manipulation, Tall Tales, Snow travel and safety, Environmental Education, Edible and Medicinal Plants, Irish and Scottish country dancing, Gardening, Painting, Making great meals from local ingredients
Origin Story Mad Maude comes from a wild Irish family were at any gathering there is dancing, singing, bagpipes, laughing, loud good natured arguments, deep love and caring. As a native to Portland Oregon she grew up spending her summers running wild in the Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness area. Mucking about in streams, exploring countless tracts of forest and nibbling on edible plants. She has since continued to enjoy the wilderness in as many ways as she can. Maude has shared her love of nature in the Environmental Education field since 1997 and as a Kayak and Snowshoe guide. At Portland State University she studied History and was heavily involved in Student Government, the Peer Mentor program, the PSU Community Garden and Food for Thought Cafe. She has travelled extensively including; Ghana West Africa to study local women's resistance to colonialism, much of Europe with a summer spent on a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea and time in the Irish/ Scottish Homeland.
Philosophy Maude truly enjoys people, especially the young ones. This enjoyment informs her style as an educator. She strives to make space for peoples natural competency to shine and come to the surface. Humor, silliness, deep caring and high (but attainable) expectations characterize how she guides her charges.
Jamey Proudstar Espinoza After School & Rover's Chieftain
Codenames Logan, Deadpool, Mario
Guild The Rovers
Place of Origin Portland, Oregon
Team Affiliations Calvin College, US Forest Service, Portland Geek Council of Commerce & Culture
Superpowers Fishing, Fixing Everything, Making Kids ONLY Want to Go to Jamey's Camp (consequently depressing other instructors), Magic & Prestidigitation, Comic Book Trivia, Survival Skills, Safety Master
Origin Story Jamey Espinoza grew up in Portland but spent much of his teens and early twenty' s trekking through some of the more untouched wild spaces of Central and South America. He is a graduate of Calvin College and holds an Interdisciplinary Bachelors in Biology, Spanish and Environmental Studies. Two things that stir up his passionate side are reintroducing people to their place in the natural world around them, and also celebrating the things that we create in culture like art and tools that make us diverse as a species.
Jamey has been working with children since 1995 including his time with the US Forest Service as a wildlife interpreter and independently with homeless youth in Casper Wyoming as an underground music promoter. Ask Jamey to take you fishing and you make his day. Whether it is a lake, a crick, the ocean or a spring puddle, there is something in the water that he wants to show you and more likely than not, cook for you right then on the shoreline.
Philosophy Though he is obsessively safety minded he knows that the more precautions taken the bigger and more breath taking the adventure can be. If you hang out with him be prepared to try something new and maybe something you did not think you were brave enough to do.
Darcy Bedortha Wilders Guild Coordinator & Youth Instructor
Codenames The Busdriver, Craftmaster
Guild Wilders Guild
Place of Origin Scio & Paulina, Oregon
Team Affiliations Trackers, 4H, Crook County Schools, Institute for Democratic Education in America, Bedortha Ranch, Goddard College
Superpowers Whispering, Listening, Sanity
Origin Story A fifth generation Oregonian, descended from farmers, loggers, fishermen and pioneers; people who lived close to the land and felt the natural rhythms of place. Grew up on the banks of Crabtree Creek where she and her brother quickly did chores so that they could play in the woods, the fields and the garden. Darcy raised her own wonderful children in deeply rural Central Oregon on a 20,000 acre ranch where she grew even closer to the land and the natural world. She has experience working with at risk youth, in mental health facilities, in workforce development serving homeless youth, and in many positions within public schools. She is honored to share what she has learned about the world and its wild places, and looks forward to learning all that your children will teach her as they explore these beautiful spaces together.
Philosophy Darcy believes in the power of place-based, experiential education, integrated curriculum, environmentally focused education, constructivist approaches to teaching and learner centered instruction. She believes in the interconnection of all things, that relationships matter, that humans often learn best from mistakes, and that kids should be allowed to make a few.
June Jacobson Overnight Program Director
Guild Wilders Guild
Place of Origin Michigan with extreme pride
Team Affiliations Portland State University, Multnomah County Outdoor School, Trackers Earth Founding Community Member
Superpowers Great Food, Gardening Brewing Great Wines, Green Burial (Masters Thesis)
Origin Story June grew up playing in the mosquitoey wetlands and farm fields around her family's Michigan homestead. In the summer, her Mother and Grandfather wrangled the family into the gardens to harvest and preserve veggies for the cold midwestern winters. Her stomach still growls when she thinks of her Dad's fruit orchard and Mom's fat gooseberry bushes.
She moved to the Northwest in 1997, after receiving her Bachelors in Education from Michigan State University. Her deep appreciation for Oregon's wild lands and for the people who care for them, began during her long tenure with MESD Outdoor School. She led kids along the banks and forests of the Sandy River for seven seasons before going back to school. During graduate school, she met the brilliance of Trackers, including her Tracker husband David, and in 2005 started instructing overnight camps.
It was during this new Trackers tenure that she began to realize how truly "hands-on" education could get. It became a chance for both youth and adults to participate simultaneously in real work, real play, real risk and reward in relationship, and real learning about how we can and do affect the land we live in. Trackers instructors and kids used their whole bodies, minds and more to better understand the land and themselves. All this while evading Orcs or defending the village from evil wizards!
She received her Masters in Educational Leadership from PSU's Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning in 2006. She played many different roles for Trackers since that time, while running a small CSA in Deer Island and teaching Capstone classes for PSU. She stepped into the role of Youth Program Director for Trackers in March 2010 and is grateful everyday to work with such a creative, fun and conscientious staff. It is with these folks that she is able to see her ideals in education come alive.
Danielle Ainson Mariners Guild Bosun & Youth Instructor
Codenames Danielle the Dangerous
Guild Mariners Guild
Place of Origin Brandord, Connecticut
Team Affiliations Hip Hop Instructor, Trackers Earth
Superpowers Boatbuilding, Sailing, Fishing, Arm Wrestling
Origin Story Danielle grew up navigating and sailing the Thimble Islands off of Branford, CT. This time on the water inspired a deep passion for the Sea. Danielle is a Mariner, through and through, respecting and in her spare time sailing, kayaking, fishing and tying recreational knots. Danielle has taught everything from hip-hop dance, ultimate frisbee team and of course awesome outdoor education skills with Trackers.
Philosophy Danielle Ainson, Trackers Instructor: She believes in the power of outdoor education, appreciating the value of fun, getting dirty and playing in the woods.
David Jacobson He Does Something with Trackers (we're not exactly sure)
Codenames Snake Eyes
Guild Rangers but wannabe Wilders (for the bacon)
Place of Origin McMinnville, Oregon
Team Affiliations The bear that hangs out in his backyard
Superpowers Tracking, Stealth, Eating Bacon
Origin Story David enjoys eating good food and draws from his background in botany, wildlife ecology, and wilderness living skills in order to eat well on our programs. Combining urban, and wilderness foraging strategies he assists students in learning to create crawfish stew and wild crafted meads. David also graduated with a BS in Botany from the Evergreen State College. During his time as a "Greener" he took it upon himself to do extensive independent study contracts in pressure release study and other aspects of tracking and natural history.
Philosophy One critical aspect of David's educational philosophy is his attentiveness to safety of students and the requirement that every lesson needs to functional. "I will never ask a student to do something that does not have a real purpose. We learn about tracking to actually find the animal, not simply as an academic study".
Gabe Shaddy-Farnsworth Core Instructor
Guild Rangers Guild
Place of Origin Anchorage, Alaska
Team Affiliations Tryon Life Community Farm, City Repair, Trackers Teams
Superpowers Baskets, Permaculture, Milking Goats
Origin Story Gabe’s love for the wilderness and the outdoors was born through the hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking and snowboarding he did growing up in Alaska. After high school he headed South for school, first for a stint in Idaho and then further South to Ecuador for a year where he studied Spanish and Environmental Studies. It was there while working on a coastal organic farm that he started studying and practicing permaculture.
Since living in Portland, Gabe has worked as an organizer for various environmental organizations and as a volunteer for City Repair and Tryon Life Community Farm. He graduated from the TrackersTeams Outdoor Immersion Program and now works as an instructor for both youth and adult programs with the organization teaching various skills from tracking to permaculture to collaborative team skills. He spends his free time tanning hides, tending the gardens and milking goats at his home at TLC Farm in SW Portland.
Brian Schuch Primitive Skills Specialist
Codenames Shook, Shook
Guild Rangers Guild
Place of Origin Cincinnati, Ohio
Team Affiliations Hawk Circle, Awaken the Hearts
Superpowers Flintknapping, Bowmaking, Living From a Backpack, Extreme Makeovers
Origin Story Brian Schuch has been traveling, living, and teaching wilderness survival skills since 2003. He's taught in many settings including public/private schools, workshops, private residences, camping trips, nature centers, museums, for a documentary, independent contracting and more. He's worked and lived primitively in many environments including the jungles of Costa Rica where he built and resided in a bamboo tree-house for many months. The natural world is a never-ending source of beuaty that drives Brian's passion. His main teaching goal is to show that we can live in an area and increase it's carrying capacity for all life, not just our own. And that if we take without giving back, we may run out of resources. To Brian, the first step is about understanding how the natural world works and our impact on it.
Brian grew up in the suburbs outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. As the last year of high-school was starting, he was exposed to a school that taught wilderness survival skills. From there he went straight to Hawk Circle Earth Mentoring Institute where he took a year-long immersion program and delved heavily in primitive technology. The skills Brian developed taught him how to live with the woods and take care of all his needs and wants. After completing the course he stayed for another year learning and teaching school groups and summer camps. During that time he also worked at a museum to recreate and demostrate skills of indegenious technology. This included building a bark longhouse, bark canoes, dugout canoes, bows, arrows, 3 sisters gardens, maple sugaring and more.
Brian eventually discarded all possessions other than his clothes. He spent his time traveling, living, and teaching around the country. The skills he honed enabled him to travel light. Brian made anything he needed. His backpack was a small, brain-tanned deer bag. This life change came unexpectedly and gave many surprising gifts: including true freedom, a love for life, a sense of place in the natural world, a better understanding of himself and his limitations and most importantly a realization of how relevant community and family are. He realized you can have everything in the world, but with no one to share it with, it becomes meaningless. Brian often says that the most important value is that purpose your life should further your family and the earth.