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Instructors

The most important factor in the success of our field courses is our highly qualified and talented instructor staff. Our instructors have extensive experience in natural sciences, leadership, and education, and are committed to providing strong mentorship to the young adults we work with each year. With a sense of humor to match their sense of adventure, our instructors immerse every student in the thrill of learning outside the classroom.

During the current field season, our field staff represent seven countries and a deep diversity of science and educational backgrounds. All instructors participate in an intensive 2 to 4 week staff training at the start of each field season.

Meet some of our instructors in Costa Rica, Galápagos, México and Montana.

Costa Rica


Heidi Keaster

Heidi Keaster
Costa Rica Instructor

Heidi, born and raised in Montana, graduated from the University of Montana with a double major in Spanish and Anthropology. Her interest in language and culture has inspired several adventures and extended periods of time in Latin America including Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

Over the past three years she has had a diverse role with EPI. While the majority of her role with EPI has been as the Administrative Coordinator at the World Headquarters office in Missoula, MT; she has also instructed on the Montana's Greater Yellowstone Ecology program as well as co-instructed as an intern for Costa Rica's Sea Turtle Ecology program.

Heidi loves traveling and learning not only about different cultures, but also about different environments and ecosystems. She also enjoys hiking to hot springs in the woods while ID-ing the local flora and fauna, knitting and spinning with wool fibers, reading, hunting, cooking and, lately, learning how to play guitar.

Lucia Castellanos

Brandon Hughart
Costa Rica Instructor

Brandon has worked as a naturalist educator and wilderness guide in the Florida Keys, southeastern Alaska, and Catalina Island of southern California. He enjoys exploring the natural world and sharing it with others. When not teaching, you might find him backpacking, scuba diving, or throwing the frisbee. 

Sofía Rodríguez

Sofía Rodríguez Brenes
Costa Rica Instructor

Sofía is from San José, Costa Rica; even though she grew up in the city she has always loved the forest and nature. She’s a herpetologist; she studied Biology at the University of Costa Rica, since the beginning of her career she has been interested in amphibians and reptiles.

She loves going out to the field at night looking for amphibians and reptiles. She has worked mostly with amphibians in Conservation and bioacoustics. This is going to be her second season working with EPI, so she’s really excited about taking out new students to teach them about the wonders of the forest in the tropics and the amazing leatherbacks!

Kimberley Taylor

Kimberley Taylor
Costa Rica Instructor

Kim grew up spending her summers backpacking and has loved the outdoors ever since. This passion for the natural world led her to take a NOLS backpacking course in Wyoming and study biology and environmental studies at Williams College. She also studied conservation ecology in Ecuador where she visited the Amazon and the cloud forest to help researchers and learn about these ecosystems.

She has combined her enthusiasm for outdoor recreation and ecology by working on biology research projects in Yosemite and Tahoe National Forest, CA, Isle Royale National Park, MI, and the cloud forest in Intag, Ecuador. She realized her passion for teaching while working at a school on the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast. She is very excited to return to the Caribbean and share her love of ecology with EPI students!

Rodrigo Villate

Rodrigo Villate
Costa Rica Instructor

Diving, reading and music are some of the things Rodrigo enjoys of life. He is native from Colombia, born in Bogota and raised at tropical Barranquilla. As an ecologist he has done research with marine turtles and delved into wildlife conservation strategies that promote the sustainable development of rural communities.

Rodrigo is eager to contribute to EPI´s efforts of promoting a more active role of youth in conservation actions.

Juan Carlos Zúñiga

Juan Carlos Zúñiga
Costa Rica Instructor

Juan is originaly from San Jose, Costa Rica. He is a biologist from the University of Costa Rica and is currently studying to specialize in aquatic ecosystems, working as an assistant in research studies for the CIMAR, and teaching Environmental Education to youth. He’s a fan of the forest and rivers, as well as the oceans and beaches. He likes to play sports, especially soccer.

Galapagos


Sabina Estupiñan

Sabina Estupiñan
Galápagos Instructor

A biologist, Sabina grew up in the northwest “green province” of Ecuador, in Esmeraldas City. After studying biology in Guayaquil, she settled in the Galapagos Islands, where she has been able to play a continuing role in preserving her nation’s celebrated natural heritage. She has been a permanent resident of the Galapagos since 1997.

She has explored closely the animal and plant life on the Galapagos since she made her home on the Enchanted Islands. Apart from her professional capacity as a Naturalist Guide, which gives her strong motivation and inspiration, she has completed some biological research, notably in the monitoring of aquatic mangrove birds at Churute’s Swamp Reserve on Guayas. Also, she has studied the symbiotic relationships between endemic plants and animals that are endemic to the islands. Sabina is a parent who loves long walks with her daughter and friends. Athletic, she is an avid deep diver, having obtained advanced certification. She enjoys the arts, and especially the music of her country: salsa, merengue and the rhythms of Esmeraldas, which has produced music that is celebrated throughout Ecuador.

Inaki Abella Guierrez

Alonso Mohedano Navarrete
Galápagos Instructor

Alonso was born in Mexico City on January 15th 1983. When he was 19 years old he came to La Paz to study Marine Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur.

He is now 26 years old, has finished college and has continued to live in La Paz studying and working with fossil corals. He loves swimming, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, cooking, dancing, and playing team sports, such as basketball and soccer. He spends most of his time with friends hanging out on the beach, at home working on research, or just playing with his pets (a dog and two cats).

Although he is a huge reggae fan, he also likes other kinds of music. He worked for EPI last season as an intern, and now joins EPI as an instructor. 

Leah Pillsbury

Leah Pillsbury
Galápagos Instructor

Leah Pillsbury grew up in southern California where she became obsessed with nature. Although she has travelled extensively in five continents, she thinks California is the most beautiful place she’s been (she is hoping the Galapagos will change that). Leah loves painting, swimming, backpacking, and just roaming around outdoors, so she can’t wait for the fun with EPI students.

For two summers, she led backpacking trips in Yosemite National Park and has taught formal subjects such as math, biology, and Swahili. Leah majored in African Studies and Government and minored in art at Harvard University. Studying was cool, but she is glad that now she has more time to explore.

México


Keagan Kenny

Keagan Kenny
Mexico Instructor

By summer I can usually be found in a raft or on a horse working as a wilderness ranger in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. By winter my time is mostly spent atop snowy mountains in Montana or working as a snowmobile ranger.

Travel and volunteer work in Central America brought me in contact with amazing souls of people and animals alike. And working in southern Chile guiding sea kayak and ecology trips created an addiction for international conservation.

Leticia Parisi

Leticia Parisi
México Instructor

Leticia was born in Buenos Aires where she obtained her degree in Biology at the Buenos Aires University. She has a long history with sea turtles, environmental education and science outreach. She was a member of the outreach team at her University and at the Buenos Aires Observatory. Her love for the ocean and turtles took her to the Mexican Caribbean and Galapagos beaches, where she learned about EPI. In Galapagos she participated in a sea turtle monitoring project where she involved the local community in conservation while helping to develop sustainable tourism.

She joined EPI in 2007 in her beloved Galapagos. In 2008 she worked at the "Reserva Marina del Levante" in Mallorca, Spain watching dolphins in a sailing boat. In 2009 she will start a new season with EPI in Baja California Sur. In her free time, she likes to visit her family and friends in Argentina. She is fond of sports: surfing, sailing, biking and Yoga. She enjoys reading about philosophy and stories from boat trips.

Monica Lopez Conlon

Marisol Rueda Flores
México Instructor

Marisol is from Cuernavaca, Morelos, México. She obtained a degree in Biology at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos. Her passion for the ocean, whales and dolphins took her to La Paz, B.C.S., México, where she recently completed a Master of Science in Management of Marine Resources while studying blue whales in the Gulf of California at CICIMAR.

She is delighted every time she hears a whale blow and sees their huge body emerging from the sea. Her other passions include dancing and scuba-diving! In her free time you can find Marisol practicing Pilates, learning to surf, reading and traveling. She looks forward to sharing her huge smile with you! 

Benjamin Troyo Vega

Benjamin Troyo Vega
México Instructor

Benjamin is from La Paz, B.C.S. He studied Marine Biology and has a Masters Degree in Marine Sciences, both from the Autonomus University of Baja California Sur (UABCS). He was part of the Research Program of Marine Mammals in the UABCS and worked in projects with the Gray Whale, Humpback Whale, Beaked Whales and participated in marine mammal cruises along the Gulf of California. Having an interest in the ecology and conservation of the cetaceans.

Benjamin likes photography, spending with friends, swimming, kayaking, reading, traveling and he enjoys nature and wild life. He is happy with the idea of being part of EPI's team and collaborating in their education and conservation efforts.

Montana


Lisa Eidelman

Lissa Eidelman
Montana Instructor

Lissa hails from the north woods of Michigan. When not in Yellowstone, she teaches marine ecology and sustainable living on Catalina Island. In the past, she has worked as a naturalist in the San Bernardino Mountains, Minnesota, and in Sicily for the World Wildlife Fund. Last year, Lissa road her bike from San Francisco to the Mexican border to promote sustainable living.

While pursuing a Masters Degree at Hamline University, she researched predatory ecology, tracked wolves on the north shore of Lake Superior, and wrote a thesis on energy education. She loves snorkeling, baking, and reconnecting with natural systems.

Matt Lechmaier

Matt Lechmaier
Montana Instructor

Matt has a background in wildlife ecology and research. He has worked in Wisconsin, California, and Montana on a variety of projects including deer, turkeys, songbirds, and restoration ecology. He completed a biology teaching certification at the University of Wisconsin and is looking forward to teaching in an experiential outdoor education setting. When he isn’t working, Matt enjoys traveling, triathlons, fishing, biking, and playing ultimate frisbee.

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