We at San Juan Island Outfitters are proud to employ many incredible “Wild Women” that make up our team of professional outdoor adventure educators.  Our company would not run if not for these amazing women that fill positions from senior managers to vessel captains, naturalists, kayak guides, and reservation staff. As a small family owned business, we take pride that 50-60% of our staff each summer are women, and because of that we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate just a few of those “Wild Women of San Juan Island Outfitters.”

Women in the Wilderness

Brittany- Marketing Specialist and Operations Coordinator

Starting off with one of our most long-standing senior managers we have Brittany!  Brittany has been with San Juan Safaris and Outfitters for 8 years! Brittany moved to the Pacific Northwest within one week of college graduation to pursue her dream of “thriving in the outdoor adventure industry.”  She began her career in the outdoor adventure industry with San Juan Island Outfitters in 2010. Since then she has worn many different hats including marketing, operations, customer service, sea kayak guide, and naturalist.

Brittany has a Bachelor of Arts is Psychobiology with an emphasis in Ethology (the study of animal behavior) and a minor in US History.  She has performed many hours of hands on research including:

  • An internship focused on ethology of Killer Whales with Dr. Bob Otis in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
  • An education internship with the Racine Zoo, Racine, WI.  

She has also taken some courses in digital marketing and has continued educating herself in both communications and digital marketing.

Brittany is CPR certified and is excited to be currently pursuing her nursing degree! She says her ultimate goal is to put her nursing degree to use in the outdoor adventure industry in locations close to the wilderness to support expedition groups.

Her love for everything outdoors was alive from a young age.  Brittany grew up in an outdoor-focused Midwest family. She says her summers were spent kayaking, canoeing, camping, and spending time in nature. “Essentially, my love of the wilderness started before I could walk!” Brittany says.

Since her arrival here in the Pacific Northwest 8 short years ago, her outdoor pursuits now include multi-day backpacking, sea kayaking, trekking, bike touring, and cycling. Brittany says highlights include:

  • 5-day 200 mile bike touring trip from Bellingham, WA to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 5-day 100 mile jungle trek in northern Guatemala 
  • 3 day/2 night sea kayak expedition in the San Juan Islands
  • 3 day/2 night backpacking in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains
  • 3 day/2 night Olympic Coast back-packing trip
  • 2 day/1 night snow camping in the Mount Baker Wilderness.

Along with countless multi-day backpacking trips in the North and Central Cascade Mountains of Washington State!

We asked Brittany what else we should know about her status as a “Wild Woman of San Juan Outfitters” and this is what she had to say: “In recent years, I’ve become much more comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s been a significant challenge! Still, what I consider “extreme” outdoor adventures probably seem mild to some. And guess what!? It’s ok not to want to be an extreme adventurer. Will you ever find me dropping out of a helicopter on skis to scream down the side of a mountain? NOPE! But you will find me pushing myself and trying new experiences in my own way. I learned to ski for the first time at the Mt. Baker Ski Resort in winter of 2016 and went on my first multiday back packing trip in 2015. Somehow, I not only survived, but had the most incredible experience during a 5-day jungle trek in the Guatemalan jungle in March 2018. Now, that was a big step for someone who doesn’t like humidity, bugs, and not showering for multiple days!  Get outside in your own way!”

Sarah- Captain and Lead Naturalist and Vessel Coordinator

Next up we have Captain and Lead Naturalist and Vessel Coordinator Sarah! Captain Sarah has been with San Juan Safaris and San Juan Outfitters since 2014!. She has a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hamphire. While there, Sarah participated in research projects including, remote monitoring of bobcats using camera traps worked as a naturalist for the Mass Audubon, and studied abroad in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

Sarah’s interests include marine mammals, hiking, snorkeling, travel, skiing, outdoors recreation, photography, and exploring the US National Parks system.  She has done extensive independent travel in places including:

  • United Kingdom in 201
  • Thailand in 2017
  •  solo California coast road trip in 2016

Sarah also has spent time working in Maui, Hawaii as a marine biologist and naturalist in and around the Hawaiian Islands.  While there, Sarah worked on ongoing data collection, performing numerous crew duties, and educated passengers about the geology, geography, natural history, ecology, culture and marine life of the Hawaiian Islands.

Now, Sarah calls Friday Harbor, San Juan Island her home full time. As Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator for San Juan Safaris and San Juan Outfitters, you will find Sarah doing many things for our company from managing a team of naturalists, curating educational materials on board each vessel, and making sure that the whale watch vessel fleet is well equipped, stocked, and safe.

Sarah recently earned her USCG Master Near Coastal 100 Ton and Assistance Towing Endorsements making her an official Coast Guard Certified Captain.  When she is not working on the whale watch and wildlife tour vessels as a naturalist, you’ll find her most often driving our whale watch vessel M/V Sea Hawk for San Juan Outfitters from Roche Harbor, San Juan Island. 

Jess- Senior Expedition Leader

Jess is one of our Senior Expedition Leaders.  Jess has been with San Juan Outfitters for 6 years now! She earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting & drawing, with her main medium being oil painting. Her favorite subject to paint are any beautiful landscapes - especially trees! She minored in outdoor leadership & experiential education. Jess' capstone for her was “art in the outdoors and its effects on a student’s experience.”

Jess has many certifications including EMT-basic, WFR, CPR, OEC, MPIC, BCU 3 star, and is BCU 4 star trained. Wow! She’s also proud to be a LNT (Leave No Trace) trainer, has her avalanche level one certificate and Washington State food handlers as well as having recently received a certification in phlebotomy.

Ask Jess about how she found her way into the outdoor adventure industry and she will tell you that she 

“was fortunate to grow up in the outdoorsy area of Park City, Utah. That’s where I learned to mountain bike and ski. My drive and passion for the outdoors happened a little later when I went on a four-day sea kayaking trip in Canada in the Johnston Strait. That trip sparked my interest in sea kayak guiding. Then in college I got into the outdoor recreation program and started going on their trips and that really got me excited to do this type of work and to be outside as much as possible.”

In addition to being a Senior Expedition Leader for San Juan Outfitters, Jess also worked in sea kayak guiding in Patagonia for a company in Torres Del Paine National Park and ski patrols in the winter. Jess has had her fair share of adventures including backcountry skiing in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, mountain biking, trail running, pack rafting southern Utah, backpacking Iceland, trekking to Everest Base Camp, hiking the Cullins of Scotland, and backpacking in the W trail in Patagonia. She even found time to volunteer by coaching girls hockey for several year as the assistant coach.

In her free time, you will find Jess doing something active. Jess spends her days away from San Juan Island in the North Cascasde Mountaisn to hike or backpack, mountain biking or road cycling.  During the winter months, Jess is usually out backcountry skiing and touring up mountains or hiking with her dog, Chief.

We asked this Wild Woman what else we should know about her.  Jess says “I’m an artsy jock who appreciates a good cup of coffee and nice conversation!”

Claire- Expedition Logistics Manager

This is Claire’s third season working for San Juan Outfitters. Claire has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and her Wilderness First Responder Certificate. We'd be lost without Claire!

Claire entered the outdoor recreation industry with her first post college employment in the San Bernadino Mountains. There, Claire worked in an outdoor sceince school with 5th and 6th graders from around southern California. Since then, most of her jobs have been word of mouth through friends and going with whatever “piques [her] interest at the time.” 

The bulk of Claire’s post college outdoor experience over the past 5 years has been in the outdoor education industry. She also worked for the Student Conservation Association, leading a group of high schoolers in trail restoration in northern New Jersey. After that, she went back to the outdoor education world working for a traveling outdoor education company based in Ventura, California, where she led weeklong camping trips for students that included activities like hiking, climbing, kayaking, and team building. Some of Claire’s personal trips include:

  • Hiking Mt. Whitney
  • bike packing trip in Idaho
  • climbing in Yosemite, Red Rock, and Joshua Tree National Park

Claire says how she spends her off time completely depends on where she is living. When Claire is here in the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys sunset watching, trying her hand at mountain biking, sea kayaking, yoga and other less active things like Netflix watching, reading and checking the news 50 times a day. When in California, Claire says there's a lot more climbing and beach time involved. 

We asked Claire what more we should know about her and she says, “I recently learned about the term 'semi-rad' and think it nicely encapsulates my approach to life in the outdoors. You probably won't ever catch me training for an ultra-marathon or climbing half dome or devoting my free time to one outdoor sport over all others. I like to dip my toes in it all, therefore never becoming an expert, just learning enough to have fun with my friends and be semi-rad. I was not outdoorsy growing up so it's easy for me to slip back into and indoors type of person but at the end of the day I know that vitamin D and fresh air are the best medicine for me.”

Alexandria- Naturalist, First Mate, Reservation Staff (and sometimes Barista)

Alexandria is in her second season working for San Juan Safaris and San Juan Outfitters. In 2016, she graduated from University of Puget Soundwith majors in Science, Technology, and Society with a Marine Biology Emphasis, as well as Communication Studies. Alexandria also minored in Education. 

With majors in such different disciplines Alexandria jokes the dream is to be “Bill Nye the Science Guy Jr… Alexandria the Science Gal.” In all seriousness, she loves how working in outdoor adventure education allows her to utilize all her skills in science, communications, and education.  She often jokes on the boats that this job allows her to combine two of her favorite things: Whales and captive audiences!

Alexandria has experience working with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network on San Juan Island, wolf rehabilitation, and marine mammal rescue & rehabilitation in her home state of California.  She has also very much been enjoying volunteering for Island Haven Animal Sanctuary on San Juan Island, and says her favorite has to be helping with enrichment for their two resident goats named Taco and Tamale.

Having been born and raised in Southern California, Alexandria first fell in love with the Pacific Northwest when she and her mom went on a multi-day kayaking tour with San Juan Outfitters.  After enjoying spending time on the island, she knew it was a goal of hers to return to the area to work on the other side of things!  Having had such an amazing time on that trip, she knew when it came to apply to colleges it was time to break out of her “Los Angeles/Orange County bubble” and go on an adventure! 

While studying at the University of Puget Sound, Alexandria was Resident Programming Advisor and Residents Assistant for the outdoor education themed hall where she planned numerous events and activities for the community including many hikes, camping and overnight backpacking trips, and kayaking trips around the greater Puget Sound region. She has also traveled all along the west coast; between college and working on San Juan Island, Alexandria has done that drive 11 times and counting! In additiion to Oregon and Washington, Alexandria also spent time in North Carolina, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.

After graduating from Puget Sound University, Alexandria found her way to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island and began her position with San Juan Safaris and San Juan Outfitters. Now a two year verteran, she enjoys wearing many different hats. Most days, you'll find Alexandria on one of our four whale watch & wildlife tour vessels as a naturalist and first mat. She is also part of the reserations ans sales team, assists with marketing and media, and even occissionally in the Riptide Cafe. 

When asked what we should know about Alexandria, she says, “I know the term YOLO has become overused, but working in this industry has really allowed me to understand the true meaning of… seize the day, shall we say? I am constantly in awe of what we get to do out here and have yet to wake up thinking 'ugh I have to work today.'  No two days are ever the same, and every day is a new adventure.  It truly has taught me that you’ll never work a day in your life if you’re doing something you  love!  Regardless of what the future holds I know these amazing experiences we have working with San Juan Safaris and San Juan Outfitters is teaching me to never settle, and to always chase your passions!”

 

Tenley- Reservation and Customer Service

Tenley just completed her first season with San Juan Outfitters and San Juan Safaris.  As a recent graduate from Friday Harbor High School here on San Juan Island, she is currently attending Seattle Pacific University and with a major in General Business. 

Tenley is a certified lifeguard, teaches youth swim lessons, and is a member of the local swim team. Tenley says that “as a swimmer and water lover it is important to me to be able to take action if need be.” 

Growing up near Portland, Oregon the outdoors were readily accessible to Tenley. With a love of outdoor adventures already a part of her, Tenley says this summer job seemed like a great fit. While this is technically her first outdoor adventure empoyment, she’s spent years volunteering. One of her favorites was running an outdoor activity unit at a local S.T.E.M camp. With this camp she was fortunate enough to be able to design her own week-long activities workshop which allowed campers to spend a week biking, hiking, swimming, and much more. She says this experience allowed her to take part in some “pretty fun adventuring.”

Tenley says “In my off time you can find me at the pool or in a lake. I grew up doing competitive swimming and always want to be around water. When I’m not in the water however, you can find me on a hike or curled up with a good book.”

This is just a short glimpse at some of the amazing wild women we have on our team here at San Juan Safaris and Outfitters.  Each of these ladies brings something uniquely wild to San Juan Safaris and San Juan Outfitters, and all of them are worth celebrating.  Cheers to all the wild women out there!