Bay Area Staff
The educators of TrackersBAY includes experienced skills instructors on the leading edge of place-based education. We are community and co-op of professionals who's goal is superlative competence in our field.
Jess Liotta Bay Area Director
Place of Origin The west coast, from California to Washington
Team Affiliations Montessori, the Oregon Country Fair, Alameda County Master Gardeners, Makers of the Bay Area
Superpowers Meat smoking, being an organizational ninja, leveling up, connecting people
Origin Story Jess grew up in a scattering of places across the west coast, exploring the woods of the Pacific Northwest and the coastlines of Sonoma County. She studied education, literature, and medieval history at Portland State University before jumping over to London to train as a Montessori early childhood educator and finally settling down in the Bay Area. After two years teaching at The Renaissance School in Oakland, she joined Trackers first as an instructor and then as the Bay Area Regional Director. In her alleged spare time, she tries be outside as much as possible with her toddler son, mad scientist husband, and their menagerie of assorted animals and plants.
Philosophy Children AND adults are capable of more than our culture often asks of them! When you give someone real tools, a deft bit of guidance, and the space to pursue their interests, amazing things happen.
Dane Nelson Youth Instructor
Codename Longshadow, The Mighty Mr. Bearfight
Place of Origin Northern California
Superpowers Outdoor Cooking, Knife throwing, Bear Chasing
Dane was raised on a large ranch in the rural California town of Redwood Valley. He spent much of his early life navigating trails and waterways, learning the skills necessary for survival. He worked for many years as a river guide and kayaking instructor, and staffed summer camps all over the Golden State. If you ask, he will be more than happy to regale you with stories of being chased by wild animals.
Heidi Kunz Youth Instructor
Codename The Voice, Cap'n Heidi Five-Blades, & Redhawk the Sorceror.
Guild Rangers. With strong affinities to the Wilders and Mariners.
Place of origin The Wild Wild West. Born in Utah and raised in Colorado.
Team Affiliations Trackers Earth, Point Reyes National Seashore Pinniped Monitoring Program, & Colorado.
Superpower If you need it it's in Heidi's pack, repurposing anything or everything, learning and teaching on the spot, finding the fun, and being like water.
Origin Story Heidi started backwoods backpacking before she could walk (her father's back being an awesome ride through the Sierra Nevadas and Rocky Mountains). She has been immersed in the outdoor world ever since, and has extensive experience in mountain and desert camping, backwoods backpacking, and wildlife biology. After working for several years as a certified veterinary technician, Heidi found her true passion instructing kids. She finds joy sharing her love for hiking, making fire, carving stuff, singing sea shanties, talking to plants, beachcombing, telling tall tales, fishing, working with leather, tracking, wildcrafting, and telling tall tales with a pirate brogue. Heidi has been instructing for Trackers Earth since February 2011.
1) Safety is half planning and prepardness. The other half is listening, adapting, and acting on the current flow of events.
2) Kids can do really cool stuff. Learning to use a knife, make a fire, or try something new actually empowers and encourages kids to be more aware and responsible for their actions.
3) Modeling confidence, adeptness, and kindness earns respect.
Jack Foley Youth Instructor
Codename Ruckus, Attila the Fun, Captain Bearface
Guild Ranger, Mariner
Place of Origin Lafayette California
Team Affiliations WFR Pack, Mudder Runners, Seawolfs, Trackers
Superpowers Time travel, Spontaneous combustion, Meat vision
Origin Story Jack grew up moving around the world, seeing distant lands. The outdoors, however, were not unknown to him. Camping and general outdoor shenanigans were staples growing up. During his college years he moved to Italy for study. Mexico would be his next international home. He would spend his days wandering through the dense oceanside vegetation in a daze of wonder. After returning to the States and finishing his degree in Cultural Anthropology he set off for Thailand. As he spent many moons in the jungles and highlands, he learned the flow of life. Following a blessing from a monk his path led him to Spain, soaking up the culture and language before making his way back home to the Bay Area. Now much more in tune with the world and himself he wishes to pass on the teachings and understandings to others through outdoor excursions and activities. It doesn't hurt that doing so is just downright fun on a bun.
Tony Deis Founder and Company Director
Place of Origin Eugene, Oregon
Team Affiliations Trackers Earth
Superpowers Tracking, Operational Logistics
Origin Story Tony has studied outdoor skills and concepts of sustainability since a very young age. As a teenager he cultivated a 3/4 acre market garden based on principles of permaculture design and the study of ecology through tracking. The extensive Italian family Tony grew up with was one of the greatest influences on his core philosophy of the value of community and family. At the Evergreen State College his focus was how humans connect to the land around them through participatory experiences.
This, coupled with over 20 years of extensive work and cutting edge development as a contractor and consultant in the field of environmental education, lead him to found Trackers Earth. Based on his work, research and experience in survival, bushcraft, traditional skills and tracking, Tony also taught extensively for the graduate sustainability program at Portland State University, including founding their Naturalist Training Program. He has facilitated wildlife tracking, outdoor entrepreneurial and adventure education workshops for the Forest Service, Audubon Society of Portland, countless parks and interpretation agencies, universities, colleges and much more. He is also a high end consultant for other outdoor education organizations concerning their safety, organizational and outreach policies. In his free time, Tony enjoys exploring the wilderness near his home, tracking bobcat, bear, elk and deer with his new son, Robin, strapped in his snuggly pack.
Molly Strand Deis Founder, Registrar and Youth Instructor
Codenames High Elf Queen of Admin
Guild Wilders Guild
Place of Origin Salem, Oregon
Team Affiliations Willamette Falls Symphony, Central Oregon Symphony, Davidson College, Tulen Center Bend, Swirves Utopia (online text based game), The Goats at the Trackers Homestead
Superpowers Milking Goats, Beekeeping, Puttering in the Garden, Online Gaming, Finding Treasure, Sci-Fi Nerddom, Admin, Cheery Phone Conversations
Origin Story A native Oregonian, Molly received her Bachelors degree in German from Davidson College in North Carolina and spent a year in Germany, also traveling throughout much of Western Europe. She spends her time between Portland and Sandy, where she and her husband (Tony) live, and keeps busy herding goats, wrangling chickens, planning gardens and wandering the woods.
Molly is also an avid cellist and plays in the Willamette Falls Symphony. One of the "voices of Trackers" you probably spoke with her regarding any one of the Trackers programs. Molly and Tony welcomed their first child, Robin, during the 2010 holidays and he sure keeps them busy!