Bay Area Staff
The educators of Trackers Bay include experienced skills instructors on the leading edge of place-based education. We are a community of professionals whose goal is superlative competence in our field. We love what we do, and we love sharing our passions with our students.
For more information on how we hire, vet and background check both our full-time and seasonal staff for youth camp programs please refer to our information about our safety policies philosophies and procedures.
Jess Liotta Bay Area Regional 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 as a Montessori teacher 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 two sons, mad scientist husband, and their urban homestead menagerie of assorted animals and plants. Jess has worked for Trackers since 2010.
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.
Lynn Hinck Marin Program Director
Codename Fire Raven, Queen Leona of the Elves
Place of Origin The last bend in the Soda Butte River before it enters Yellowstone National Park
Superpowers Optimism, stealth, detecting other people’s superpowers, sniffing out water, knock-knock jokes, biscuits
Team Affiliations Montana State University, Board Member Marin Community Clinics
Nestled between two 12,000 feet high peaks, just outside Yellowstone National Park, is Lynn’s home. In a town that was barely a town, more than a 100 miles from a real grocery store, she learned necessary homesteading skills like determination and how to form lasting relationships based on mutual dependence and deep respect. She also spent hours in the woods exploring creek beds, tracking moose, fishing, reading the sky and playing with the wood elves. She has a degree in cultural anthropology, but most of what she teaches seven-year-olds are the things she learned when she was seven years old. If you are out and about you might find her running trails on Mt. Tamalpais or riding bikes with her kids around Marin County. She relaxes by working in her rose garden where she cultivates more than 20 varieties of roses. When she is not tracking other wild animals, she wrangles her three daughters and tries out stealthy new parenting methods. Lynn has worked for Trackers since 2012.
Cassie Pritchard Registrar & Office Coordinator
Codename Goddess Logistica
Guild Office, Wilders
Place of Origin Bay Area, CA
Superpowers Road-tripping, cartography, logisticating
Team Affiliations UCSC, PSU
Having grown up in the Bay Area, Cassie is well acquainted with parks and trails nearby. A wanderer at heart, she is no stranger to multi-week road trips and day-long flying schedules. At home, Cassie enjoys tending to her orchid and succulent collection. She has a passion for Earth & Planetary Sciences and is currently working on her graduate studies. She also has a knack for figuring out all things computer-related. You may have spoken to her on the phone regarding our programs. She is easily bribed with coffee and pastries.
Stewart Reid Lead Instructor
Codename Voodoo Stew
Place of Origin Mid-Atlantic Seaboard
Superpowers Bus whispering, kilt accessorizing, knapping just about anything
After a year away on the East Coast, we are thrilled to welcome Stew back to Trackers. Stewart grew up playing outside in the creeks, fields, and woods around his Maryland neighborhood. As an adult he spends most of his free time practicing primitive skills and outdoor survival techniques. Recently he has been intensively practicing bow making and archery and is the current Trackers Earth Bay Area archery department head. When not working on his tillering Stewart spends time with his young son and avidly supports the Portland Timbers FC. Stewart has worked for Trackers since 2011.
Dane Nelson Lead 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. Dane has worked for Trackers since 2011.
Elina Zimmerman Lead Instructor and Homeschool Program Coordinator
Codename Hambot, Esther Ether the Ethereal
Guild Wilders, with Rangers and Artisan leanings
Place of Origin The Frozen North
Team Affiliations Montessori, Oregon Country Fair, Arctica BRC, Piedmont Yoga
Elina grew up in the Northeast of the United States and had strong ties to Finland, her mother's country of origin. She studied History at Reed College in Portland with a focus on 19th & early 20th century Russian history and later earned a Master's in Education in conjunction with her Montessori teacher training. After several years of working as a Montessori teacher, Elina traveled the world for a year and returned to the bay area in 2011 whereupon she began working for Trackers. She teaches yoga and cultivates her Wilder ninja skills via her garden and the outdoors. Elina has worked for Trackers since 2011.
Heidi Kunz Lead 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, fishing, working with leather, tracking, wildcrafting, and telling tall tales with a pirate brogue. Heidi has worked for Trackers since 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.
Duncan Kight Lead Instructor
Codename Tracer, Captain Darkwater Dog
Place of Origin The Coastal Redwoods
Team Affiliations SF Parkour, Ninja Burger, MARS Medical, Chubby Mabin's Dojo
Superpowers Far sight, Shapeshifting, Iron Stomach
Duncan was born in a log cabin and raised in the coastal redwoods of Mendocino, where he learned wilderness survival at a young age. Since then he has worn many hats and carried many tools. He has worked as a server, woodworker, art/jewelry dealer, sign language interpreter, mover, bartender, security guard, EMT, restaurant manager, substitute teacher, and, of course, a wilderness survival instructor. When Duncan isn't working or in Nursing school, he does parkour, designs board games, attends festivals, rock climbs, and prepares for the impending Zombie Apocalypse. He is a pretty useful guy to keep around. Duncan has worked for Trackers since 2012.
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 young son Robin and new daughter Annie strapped in her 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 were joined by their second child Annie in February 2013 and they sure keep them busy!