Get to Know Our Instructors
MLS Instructors are all volunteer members of the AMC and are supported by AMC staff. They love to share their passion for the outdoors and their leadership experience with new leaders. They include engineers, business people, teachers, outdoor educators, biologists, medical professionals and firefighters and they have hiked, rock-climbed, kayaked, and led trips all over the world. They are all certified in Wilderness First Aid and many are Wilderness First Responders or EMTs.
Mountain Leadership School Instructors
Taylor Ackerman, Instructor
NH native! Taylor grew up playing lots of sports and spending her summers outside and using nature as my escape. She got into backpacking senior year of high school. Taylor did a NOLS semester in the Southwest and fell in love with Wilderness Medicine and outdoor education (OE). She received her bachelors from UNH in OE and environmental conservation. Taylor has spent a lot of her time at a primitive skills school in Augusta, ME. She spent last summer working wilderness therapy near Asheville, NC, while living in a yurt. She has been an EMT / WEMT for 6 years and is currently living in the Midcoast region getting her advanced EMT and more prerequisite credits towards becoming a physician assistant. She enjoys canoeing, journaling, yoga, oxygen, birds, exercising her dog, hanging out with kids, hanging out with interesting and engaging people, paddle boarding, swimming, camouflage, games, feedback, high fives, good communication, awareness, beautiful weather, beautiful views, good rain gear and gear systems, good shoes, being barefoot, good food, water breaks and smiling.
Charlie Arsenault, Instructor
Charlie is a graduate of 2008 Mountain Leadership School and an Instructor since 2010.
In additional to his participation in MLS, Charlie served the AMC Worcester Chapter as Ski Chair, Hiking Chair, Vice Chair, Chapter Chair, and currently as Past Chair. He currently resides in Westborough, Mass and enjoys four season hiking, backpacking, skiing, and paddling in his spare time. He has completed all the 4,000 ft peaks in NH and enjoys and appreciates all things outdoors. His favorite MLS experience is completing the four day and three night backpack, while managing to save one pair of dry socks for the last day of hiking.
Michael Blair, Instructor
Michael first became involved with Mountain Leadership School as a participant in the backpacking program in 2011. He returned the next year as a field instructor for the backpacking program – a role he has held ever since. Michael is a four-season leader with the AMC’s Boston Chapter and runs his own on-line hiking group. He and his wife get out to enjoy the mountains nearly every weekend. They have hiked all over the Northeast as well as Arizona, Colorado, and Italy.
Sean has been an instructor with MLS since 2006. Sean is a former program director for the ADK Winter Mountaineering School, where he has instructed several times. Sean is a NOLS alumnus, having participated in a 30-day Outdoor Educator expedition in the Yukon Territory of Canada. Sean is an active 4-season hiking & backpacking trip leader with the AMC Narragansett Chapter, and received the chapter’s Appie of the Year Award in 2017. Sean’s “happy place” is backpacking with friends in the mountains of the western US. When he’s not on the trail or in the mountains, Sean manages environmental remediation and construction projects.
Ed first became involved with Mountain Leadership School as a participant in the backpacking program in 2016. He loves the outdoors and is passionate about helping others connect to and give back to publicly accessible outdoor spaces. Ed has been leading volunteer trail maintenance trips to Yosemite and Virgin Islands National Parks with ConservationVIP since 2013. He is also ConservationVIP’s COO. Prior to that, he was an active volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation promoting environmental awareness relating to beach and ocean issues. As a stay-at-home dad, Ed’s favorite outdoor activity is introducing his daughters to the natural world. Ed hikes, surfs, mountain bikes, fly fishes, and occasionally sits on a beach. He has been fortunate enough to experience these activities in several east and west coast states. Ed and his wife also count themselves lucky to have summited Mt. Kilimanjaro together.
Xu Fei, Instructor
Xu Fei became “outdoorized” by the McGill Outdoors Club in Montreal and has hiked extensively in Quebec. He hiked across Canada from the Canadian Rockies to the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. Xu Fei is a rock-climber and nature lover. Completed MLS and AMLS back to back, and enjoyed it enough to come back as an instructor. He is currently a resident and a certified hike leader in the relatively flat land of Ontario.
Mike Jones, Instructor
Mike has been an instructor with MLS since 1997 and is a member of the AMC Worcester Chapter. Mike has experience hiking and backpacking all over the United States and some interesting places around the world too. Mike’s high point is Mt Kilimanjaro. Mike enjoys leading trips and helping others to become great trip leaders and participants too. Mike is a Wilderness First Responder.
Denis has attended Mountain Leadership School as a participant in both the regular and advanced programs. He is an active hike and backpack leader with the Delaware Valley Chapter organizing and leading events regularly on a weekly basis. He enjoys mentoring new and aspiring Chapter leaders as well as serving as the Chapter’s Membership Chair. The White Mountain National Forest is one of Denis’ favorite places to hike as well as making regular trips to the Catskills and plateau and valleys of north central Pennsylvania. Denis is from Ireland. He has hiked all over his beloved homeland and tries to get back regularly. Part of the joy he gets from hiking is associating with the people.
Rich attended MLS as a student in 2013, immediately after his first student year at the ADK Winter Mountaineering School (WMS). He is now proud to be a member of the MLS and WMS instructor pools, and currently serves on the Advisory Committee for WMS. In the summer of 2017, Rich completed a 21-day alpine climbing program with the School for International Expedition Training (SIET) where ascents of 6,000-meter Andean peaks were used to train students in modern best-practices for planning and executing technical alpine-style ascents on high-altitude, glaciated peaks throughout the world. He currently lives in South Carolina where he teaches physics at Coastal Carolina University, and leverages the academic calendar as best he can to seek higher ground hiking, climbing, and adventuring.
After participating in MLS in 2010, Eric began instructing with the MLS Day Hike Program in 2015. He teaches middle and high school math, coaches soccer and wrestling, and leads outdoor and service-learning trips for students during weekends and vacations. Eric spends as much time as possible in the outdoors, and has hiked all 48 4,000-footers in New Hampshire. He enjoys rock climbing, trail running, hiking, backpacking, bird watching, and photography. Eric is a Wilderness First Responder.
David Perkins, Instructor
Dave Perkins has been hiking and leading trips in Maine for over 30 years. He has also been involved with Outward Bound, taking courses in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Maine. He has additionally served as Outward Bound, Inc.’s legal counsel. In 2015, Dave was a participant of MLS. In 2016, he returns as an MLS instructor. Dave lives on a 90 acre, hilltop farm in mid-coast Maine.
Renee Pitelli, Instructor
Renee started hiking and joined the AMC in 2010. In 2011 she became a hike leader for the Worcester Chapter and attended the backpacking workshop the following year. She completed her 4,000 footers in 2012. In 2013 she attended MLS and she began instructing at MLS in 2014.
While always dreaming about hiking, Denise didn’t get started in outdoor activities until she joined the AMC in 1994 when she was close to 40 years old. Since that time she has hiked and backpacked all over the country with her husband, Ed, including Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, and California. One of her most treasured memories is cowboy camping in the high Sierras and opening her eyes at night to see millions of stars overhead. Closer to home in New England Denise leads hikes and backpacks in the White Mountains and Adirondacks. She’s been an MLS Instructor since 2006. Her day job for a watershed association in RI includes leading kayaking trips and naturalist hikes. As an environmental educator her trips always feature some lessons about the plants and animals encountered along the trails. Denise also shares her skills as a facilitator at leadership development training and other instructional workshops. She has presented at local, regional, and national conferences. Denise sits on the RI Environmental Education Association board, the RI Trail Advisory Committee, and the Richmond Rural Preservation Land Trust. She holds an ACA Certification for kayak instruction.
Ed Poyer, Director
Ed has been MLS Director since 2011. He has instructed at MLS nearly every year since he was a student in 1993. Ed has also instructed several times at the ADK Winter Mountaineering School.
Ed has led hundreds of AMC trips, including the 48 New Hampshire 4,000 foot peaks in winter. Ed has only one New England 4,000 foot peak left. He has backpacked in the Grand Canyon, the Rockies and the Sierras, having section hiked the entire 212 mile John Muir Trail. In 2016, Ed enjoyed 3 weeks backpacking and fly-fishing in the High Sierra.
When not backpacking out west, he enjoys the outdoors with his grandson, his wife Denise, and his dog, Sierra. Ed received the AMC Distinguished Service Award in 2016, the Narragansett Chapter John Clark Service Award in 2013, the AMC Volunteer Leadership Award in 2009, and the Narragansett Chapter Appie of the Year Award in 1999. Ed has been the Leadership Development Chair of the Narragansett Chapter since 1998 and the Backpacking and Northern Hikes Sub Chair since 1994. Ed is a Wilderness First Responder.
“Matt graduated MLS in 2017 and joined as an Instructor in 2018. He has extensive experience hiking New England in all seasons. He has hiked 47 of the 48 NH 4000 footers saving the last one to do with his daughter when she is old enough. Beyond MLS, Matt serves the club as chapter Treasurer for the Narragansett Chapter. He is also a chapter hike leader and former chapter Secretary. Matt also enjoys kayaking, cycling, and snowboarding and loves helping fellow outdoorspeople gain the skill and confidence to push their limits and more fully enjoy the outdoors.
Wanda Rice has been an MLS field instructor since 2009. For the NH Chapter of the AMC, she serves as the chapter secretary, a member of the Excursions Leader Review Board and a Class 1 Excursions Committee trip leader offering trips in all seasons. She has also been running trips for their Family Group since 2010. She finished her first round of the NH 48 in 2011, her winter 48 in 2016 and the New England 67 list in August 2016.
John hails from Pennsylvania and is an active hike leader and trail maintainer within the Delaware Valley chapter. John enjoys backpacking, trekking, wilderness adventures, and international travel – especially the long-distance trails of Europe. Destinations during the past few years include Laugavegur Trek – Iceland, Coast to Coast – England, John Muir Trail – California, and GR-20 – Corsica.
Karen “Big K” Rosencrans
Karen, who many know her by her trail name of “Big K”, has climbed the 4000fters of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Many of these peaks were with her husband, son Richie, and daughter Kelly. She also has climbed in the Colorado and Wyoming reaching the summits of South and Grand Teton. Most of the climbing in New England has been accomplished in winter (Mt Katahdin, Adirondacks, Catskills and White Mountains). She has earned the Adirondacks’s Winter Leadership Award. Big K has served the Winter Mountaineering School as Committee Chair for two terms and as a longtime committee member and former Program Director. She currently serves as the Sub-Section Chair for Adirondack Winter Mountain School Recognition and Awards. She continues to instruct at the yearly program with weekend backpacks, day trips and one week backpacks in the heart of the High Peaks region.
Rich has been hiking and climbing in the mountains and hills for over 40 years. In addition to climbing the New Hampshire 4000 foot summits he has done many of the Adirondack peaks. Other warm weather climbs include mountains in Colorado, the Tetons, Sierras and an unguided climb of Mt. Rainier. In the summer of 2011 he co-led a group of Boy Scouts on a 10 day, 100-mile backpack trip in New Mexico. As part of his bug-avoidance strategy, Rich has developed a love of the mountains in winter and has been an instructor and periodic director at ADK Winter Mountaineering School for 40 years. In the winter of 2012 he returned to Baxter State Park in Maine to climb North Brother Mountain to complete a trifecta which also included the two summits of Mount Katahdin on previous trips. Rich was a student in MLS in 1980 and was given a field appointment to instructor after one of the instructors was injured and he helped with an evacuation from the summit of Mount Washington. He has been an instructor at MLS six times. He enjoys sharing his love of the mountains and has been known to sing and tell a bad pun or two on the trail.