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.

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Mountain Leadership School Instructors

Charlie Arsenault, Instructor

Charlie graduated from Mountain Leadership School in 2008 and has been an instructor since 2010. He also volunteers for the AMC as a Regional Director and member of the Board of Directors. Charlie is employed as a Ski Instructor and as a technology and leadership Consultant.  He is an avid hiker, backpacker, skier, and paddler who has completed the NH 48, an AT through hike in 2017, and the Long Trail in 2018. His favorite MLS experience is learning the culinary art of creating a Ramen Bomb. 

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 – a role he has held ever since. Michael is a four-season leader with the AMC’s Boston Chapter. He and his wife Monica are outdoors most weekends, and together they run their own hiking group. Michael hikes year-round throughout the northeast and has finished the White Mountain 4,000-Footer Grid (each peak during each month). He has also hiked the all of the Northeast 115 and the New England Hundred Highest at least once in both summer and winter. Besides the northeast, Michael has also hiked in Arizona, Bolivia, Colorado, and Italy – the highest elevation he has reached is 17,785 feet. When he’s not hiking or backpacking, Michael is a volunteer trail maintainer (Caps Ridge Trail) and participates in various kayak and surfski races across New England.

Sean Buckley, Instructor

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.

Mike Jones, Instructor

Mike has been an instructor with MLS since 1997, served as Director of MLS 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 McCartan, Instructor

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.

David Perkins, Instructor

Dave Perkins was a student at the AMC Wilderness Leadership School in 2015 and has served as an instructor from 2016 to the present. Dave lives on a 92-acre farm in Lincolnville, Maine. His work life has involved work as a lawyer and entrepreneurial work, including the start up of Maine’s first scallop aquaculture farm. He is also very involved with Maine education work, having chaired two school boards. While Dave has hiked throughout the world, his favorite hiking is found in northern Maine and the Chic Chocs, Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec.

Denise Poyer, Instructor

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 the Wood Pawcatuck Watersed Association in RI culminated in Wild and Scenic designation by Congress for 7 rivers in RI and CT. Denise also shares her skills as a facilitator at leadership development training and other instructional workshops and presents 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, Instructor

Ed was a prior MLS Director from 2011 through 2019. 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, and 2017 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 from 1994 through 2018. Ed is a Wilderness First Responder.

Wanda Rice, Instructor

Wanda Rice has been an MLS field instructor since 2009. For the NH Chapter of the AMC, she has been a member of the Excursions Committee Leader Review Board and is currently a Class 1 Excursions Committee trip leader offering trips and teaching workshops in all seasons. 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. She hopes to finish the New England Hundred Highest list and the 4 season NH 48 in 2020.

John Rogers, Instructor

John hails from Pennsylvania and is a trail maintainer, hike leader, and currently Hiking Chair with 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 the Via Podiensis – France, Classic Haute Route – Switzerland, Laugavegur Trek – Iceland, Coast to Coast – England, John Muir Trail – California, and GR-20 – Corsica. John is an Alumni of the Advanced MLS and Day Hike programs. He joined the MLS Instructor Staff in 2015.

Karen “Big K” Rosencrans, Director

Karen, who many know her by her trail name of “Big K”, has climbed the 4000fters of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Most peaks were climbed with her family where the two children were carried in child carriers. She also has climbed out west in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. She reached the summits of South and Grand Teton. Never stopping for the seasons, BigK has climbed all over New England mostly snowshoeing to the peaks in winter to Mt Katahdin, Adirondacks, Catskills and White Mountains. She has earned the Adirondacks’s ADK Winter Leadership Award and has served the AMC-ADK Winter Mountaineering School program as instructor, program director and committee chair where she continues to be a committee member.

Rich Rosencrans, Instructor

Rich has been hiking and climbing in the mountains and hills for over 45 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 44 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 10 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.

Beth Sutton, Instructor

Beth was an outdoor educator at a Girl Scout camp for several summers, and now leads trip with the northern hikes division of the AMC Narragansett chapter. She instructs a Wilderness Medicine course through Brown University’s medical school, and has been involved in many outdoor training courses and events. Beth loves the outdoors, navigating and experiencing nature and wants to share that experience with others and teach them to respect and care for the environment we live in. I like teaching outdoor skills as well. With 25 years of hiking, camping and backpacking experience with some previous rock climbing and mountaineering experience Beth is proficient in wilderness survival skills, an emergency medicine physician, and a wilderness medicine instructor through Brown University’s Alpert Medical School.

Andrew Savignac, Instructor

Andrew enjoys sharing knowledge and love of the outdoors with others. He believes that experiences in the outdoors contribute majorly to the wellbeing and personal growth of individuals. Andrew brings copious outdoor experience to the MLS program, having hiked all the Appalachian trail and the Long trail as well as countless other trails. Andrew has a deep knowledge of outdoor and environmental ethics with well developed teaching skills and the ability to engage others and looks forward to creating a cohesive group from the individuals taking the course given their unique personalities, experience and goals.

Xu Fei, Instructor

Xu Fei was born and raised in China and became “outdoorized” by the McGill Outdoors Club in Montreal. He enjoys hiking in various parts of the world, as well as the Canadian Rockies and the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. He completed MLS and AMLS back to back in 2014 and 2015, and enjoyed it enough to come back as an instructor. Xu Fei served as a field instructor for MLS in 2019 for the first time, and he is currently a resident and a certified hike leader in the relatively flat land of Ontario.

John Young, Instructor

John has a long history of outdoor adventure. He served 7 years in the ADK Winter Mountaineering School as an instructor as well as 3 years of Director of Program and 2 years as the Advisory Chair. While giving back at that annual program he also continued his outdoor experiences by hiking in Colorado in all seasons which included winter ascents of Pikes Peak, Longs Peak and Mt. Evans. In California he has made three ascents to the top of Mt. Whitney and in Washington self-guided ascent of Mt. Rainer. This all led to a successful summit of Denali in Alaska. He also has enjoyed two winter ascents of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington in winter. Participating as an Emergency Scene Instructor has been very rewarding in meeting like-minded people who enjoy being outdoor in extreme environments and many groups of MLS have benefited from his workshops.

Zach Zimmerman, Instructor

Zach discovered his love of the outdoors while pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, where a summer hike or powder day in the Green Mountains was never more than a hour away. He currently works as a student travel advisor and facilitator for Boston-based citizen science nonprofit Earthwatch Institute, who supported his participation in MLS in 2019 as part of a professional development track in experiential and outdoor education. He is slowly working his way through the NH48, and loves to bike, boulder, and wander in the woods as much as possible. Zach believes strongly in the importance of giving people from all walks of life the opportunity to explore and learn from nature on their own terms, and is excited to return to MLS as an instructor in 2020.