About Adventure Borealis

About Adventure Borealis

Adventure Borealis

Accessible natural history excursions
in Interior & Arctic Alaska

Adventure Borealis is a new program of the

Northern Alaska Environmental Center

Adventure Borealis is committed to providing memorable adventures, ecological education and natural history exploration excursions in the Alaskan Interior for all people regardless of identity, age, ability or socio-economic status.

We strongly believe in sharing the wonder and beauty of Alaska with everybody.

Meet our Team

Ryan Arash Marsh (he/him)

Ryan Arash Marsh (he/him)

Director and Head Guide

Ryan is a first-generation Iranian American naturalist and guide. He grew up in the Bay Area and found a deep connection to our planet rock climbing and backpacking amidst the ancient redwoods in far Northern California. He lived for several years in Madagascar, first with the Peace Corps, and then as a graduate student studying conservation issues around Indigenous communities. Since 2016 he has lived in Interior Alaska, spending his summers connecting people to the land by leading natural history explorations in Denali National Park. He is an avid birder and is enthralled with the lingering twilight of the short Northern winter days.

Previously, Ryan managed the Arctic program for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, working to maintain protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other public lands in Alaska. He has now rejoined our staff to start a new program, Adventure Borealis. More information about this program will be shared in the coming year.

Advisory Board

Michael Kittredge (He/Him)

Michael Kittredge (He/Him)

Cofounder

Mike grew up on the East Coast in Connecticut and Rhode Island.s He made his way to California with his first professional positions in Higher Ed at Humboldt State University and University of California – Santa Cruz. Needing a change Mike left UCSC in 2011 to work for a local homeless services organization. He then shifted his career again to work in the outdoor industry. Mike was the manager and a climbing instructor at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym for 9+ years. He is an American Mountain Guide Association certified guide and has led many outdoor climbing trips. During this time in his career he worked to make climbing more accessible to historically underserved communities, creating policies that foster inclusion, and training staff to create a welcoming and support community at the gym and more.

Currently, Mike is at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County, working to ensure that 80 faith-based organizations and non-profits have access to the food and programmatic support they need in order to best serve those who are food insecure and receive the food they need in a compassionate, dignified, and humane manner.

In his free time he enjoys playing in Nature, surfing, climbing, or just chilling with his wife, Elida and their dogs, phoebe AKA Chicken and Pupuchino. He is currently continuing to learn Spanish and has been know to dabble in oil painting.

Chad Brown ( He / Him )

Chad Brown ( He / Him )

Chad Brown is a nonprofit leader and an accomplished adventure photographer, film maker and cinematographer in outdoor recreational and conservation spaces. Chad is the founder and president of Soul River Inc., a nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting veterans and introducing diverse urban youth to the outdoors, nature conservation and growing young leaders into advocacy for our public lands, wildlife and freshwater.

Recently, Brown has launched a new nonprofit Love is King that he leads with the mission to dismantle the hate, bigotry, ignorance and racism in the outdoors for BIPOC and all marginalized groups to have the opportunity to roam further and bolder in the outdoors and create wonderful memories for themselves without having to face any aggression. The focus of Love is King is increasing the access and establishing safety in the outdoors, fostering outdoors leadership and advocacy for public land, wildlife and indigenous communities.

Brown is also a Navy veteran, accomplished documentary style portrait photographer; he has been commissioned to shoot for the New York Times and operates as a creative director, director of photography and film maker for Chado Communication Design. Chad often pursues adventures in the back country overlanding and fly fishing, He was recently selected to be a 2022 Team Ford Bronco athlete. He is passionate about off-roading; he is an outdoorsman, bow hunter, conservationist, and artist. He guides outdoor leadership teams into the Arctic Circle. He is especially passionate about working closely with Indigenous nations, as well as working for environmental justice on public lands, raising awareness through education, providing access, inclusivity, and safety for everyone but especially for people of color in the outdoors.

Brown is a board member of the Alaska Wilderness League and has been featured on BBC and CBS. He took part in National Geographic / Natgeo Wild’s survival reality TV series “Called to the Wild”. Articles about him have been published in national publications such as Outside Magazine and The Drake, and in various Pacific Northwest publications. Additionally, Brown was the first recipient of the Breaking Barriers Award presented by Orvis, as well as the Bending Toward Justice Award from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

Caitlin Lenahan (she/her)

Caitlin Lenahan (she/her)

Caitlin is a born and raised Pennsylvanian with roots in the Lehigh and Allegheny River valleys. She spent her early adult life focused on outdoor education for all ages with a heavy side of community event organization. Her first forays into Alaska were via marine intertidal ecology in Kachemak Bay, taking courses with UAF and later teaching them with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.

Previously Caitlin was the festival coordinator for the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival in Cordova, Alaska, and has spent summers guiding in Denali National Park. Caitlin approaches her work and outdoor activities through a queer, feminist, and inclusive lens.

Bird Nelson (He/Him)

Bird Nelson (He/Him)

Bird is of Irish, Afro-Latino, and Shoshone descent and owns a climbing gym in Fairbanks, Alaska. He grew up in a New Jersey suburb of NYC and spent his youth playing in the woods and hills of the northeast when he wasn’t in the city. After high school Bird took his indoor and outdoor skills on the road, living all over the country alternating focus between climbing and snowboarding adventures.

To fund his travels he worked every job he could in the outdoor industry and a few in the nonprofit sector before settling in Alaska in his late 20s. He loves any reason to get outside, whether that means participating in trail cleanups at Grapefruit Rocks or hunting along the Yukon river, and wants to share his joy for the outdoors with others!

Francisco Mercado (He/Him)

Francisco Mercado (He/Him)

Cisco was born in New York City and has been in Anchorage since 2011. He started working for Camp Fire shortly after he arrived in Alaska.  Cisco studied history and political science at Valparaiso University and received his master’s degree in both subjects from the University of New Orleans. Cisco spent a number of years teaching history and language arts to middle school students in New Orleans. Cisco really believes in building positive relationships with all kids and believes a positive role model in a child’s life can have a tremendous impact on them. Cisco is very active in the community around racial justice and DEI, which he brings into his work at Camp Fire and Adventure Borealis. Outside of work, Cisco has amassed a great collection of comic books and manga, which he brings his passion of comics, anime, and manga with him wherever he goes.

Christin Swearingen (She/Her)

Christin Swearingen (She/Her)

Christin lives in Fairbanks and loves studying mushrooms! She was born in Arizona and moved to Anchorage with her family in 2003. She studied biology and environmental studies at Oberlin College and earned a master’s in Natural Resources Management at UAF. She has partnered with Cultural Alaska to offer mycology classes in rural Alaska communities, and loves bringing the fun and fascinating world of fungi to people throughout Alaska.

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