Get to know our close knit community of trained and experienced student staff. All of our Wilderness Outing Instructors have over 10 days of back country training and an additional focus on technical activities to provide you with the safest, most competent wilderness experience possible. All our staff are an equal mix of trained medical practitioners, cooks, drivers, outdoor educators, and fun facilitators culminating in pretty incredible outdoor professionals.
Jefferson “JB” Barstad
JB is coming back for his second year as a guide for Outdoor Adventures. Rumor has it he summited Mount Whitney at age 7 and has been hooked on crisp mountain air ever since. JB hopes to become a doctor one day, but until then he is more than happy to share his favorite places across California with folks. JB describes his perfect weekend as backpacking around Lake Tahoe with a backpack full of Nutella and a kindle full of Game of Thrones.
Cole Christie has been a trip leader for Outdoor Adventures for 4 years, an EMT, and adrenaline junkie; if it’s an Outdoor Activity, Cole has done it — probably twice. When he is not leading OA trips or working as a supervisor in the office, you can find Cole riding his motorcycle, hanging out in natural hot springs, and generally doing awesome stuff day in and day out. Cole's trips cover a lot of ground and have a lot of fun, so be prepared to be moving from sun up until sun down as you explore the woods with him.
Ari Cortes is a third year trip leader of Outdoor Adventures. She is a certified food handler and trained in Wilderness First aid. Expert backcountry chef, and prone to giggling, Ariana has worked and laughed her way across California. Her favorite trip was snowshoeing in Yosemite National Park, with backpacking through the Southern Sierra coming in a close second. During her free time, she works at the OA Rental Center, drives her mini cooper, and plays with her cat “Milkshakes.” One of the nicest people you will ever meet, she puts on a pretty great trip when you go into the backcountry with her.
Erica "E-Rex" Flores
Erica ‘E-Rex’ Flores is a second year student, determinedly working to someday be Ellen Degeneres' co-host. Until then, E-Rex, brings her spunky, fun loving attitude out into the woods with Outdoor Adventures. Erica has explored the dunes of Death Valley, the slopes of the western Sierra all while pondering life, and raving about dinosaurs. As you would expect from her nickname, E-Rex is quickly climbing the outdoor food chain as she takes on any and all Wilderness Experiences that she can get her hands on.
This girl lives and breathes outdoors! She lives out of her tent on a sustainable co-operative farm, picking berries and hosting the occasional music festival. When she is not tilling the land, Sara can be found relaxing in a hammock with a Biology textbook, novel, drawing pad, or harmonica. Passionate about human and animal rights, yoga, ethnobotany, herbal teas, and rock climbing, Sara hopes to apply her hobbies to a career in Wildlife Ecology. Take a trip with this girl, and you will certainly not forget it. Just don’t forget to pack your tie dye!
Kelsi McRee is our favorite East Coaster. Kelsi hails from smalltown USA, somewhere in Connecticut. She always dreamed of bringing her big smile, bubbly personality, and silly accent to California. Since she was out here she decided she should explore every inch of this strange new state and every activity that she couldn’t partake in at her cold, harsh homeland. As a second year kinesiology major, Kelsi has been able to apply her knowledge to Outdoor Recreation and Education. Get ready for a fun trip full of laughs with Kelsi.
OA’s resident super athlete Emma hails from Finland. Emma is a third year Recreation Tourism Major, who is also a member of the CSUN Track Team where she crushes hurdles in her spare time. Emma loves backpacking and road tripping. Her favorite place to be is backpacking in the Sierra (ideally Sequoia). Emma once hiked 27 miles in one day along the California Coast. Just a little marathon through the sand… no biggie.
You might not see David around campus, because every free moment he gets is spent exploring the green spaces of California and Arizona. After hiking every trail in Santa Barbara he could find, David and his family would camp and explore throughout the Sierras from Yosemite to Sequoia and everything in between. David is a swiss army knife of skills, knowing how to canoe, kayak, rock climb, slack-line, backpack, canyoneer, go caving, and wilderness first responder. Be ready for adventure on a Montero trip.
Have you ever wanted to meet Indiana Jones in real life? We have the next best thing; Jessica Rivas. She is our resident explorer, Anthropologist, hiker, adventurer, and pizza enthusiast. She has recently discovered her love for trying new things; and thus can be seen climbing in her trademark reversible pants. Stop on by the Office to say hey, get some gear rented out by Jessica, and ask about which trips she’s attending!
What do you get when you mix an athlete, with a scientist, a little Bear Grylls, Central American spices, and a calculator? OA’s own Michael Suazo. With a degree in mechanical engineering and working at the municipal water treatment plant, Michael Suazo ensures that we all get our eight glasses of water a day. When not running trips, you can find him on the weekends playing soccer and giving the goalie a run for his money. Playing on one of 4 teams, tearing it up in white and pink, it would be wise not to try and outrun him because he used to dominate the 400 meter back in the day. Fueled up by protein, protein, with some protein on top, you will be ensured to have plenty of food on any of his trips. Come into the office and you will be greeted by his warm handshake and guaranteed smile.
From mountain tops to ocean depths, Skyler Szczepanski loves traveling in nature, guiding trips, and exploring the outdoors with awesome people! An aspiring jack-of-all-trades, "Skylie", one of our youngest trip leaders (by age not experience!), is an ambitious outdoor explorer focusing on rock climbing, learning how to whitewater kayak, scuba diving, and slowly but surely venturing into the sacred waters of ultralight backpacking. You can find Skyler working at the Ridge Rock Wall, where he is one of the lead route setters, or stacking his schedule with equal parts, personal excursions, and awesome guided trips to the wilderness here at OA! Skyler’s five year plan includes learning to trad climb, becoming a whitewater raft guide, scuba diving in the Caribbean, backpacking Europe’s wilderness, completing the famous John Muir Trail, climbing Machu Picchu, and winning a prized Graduate Assistantship at an Outdoor Adventure program somewhere within a close proximity to all types of class A, outdoor recreational fun and adventure.
After founding CSUN Outdoor Adventures (OA) in 2008, Tim has worked tirelessly toward making CSUN OA one of the best collegiate programs in the nation. From a one room office with 2 trips a semester, Tim now oversees over 40 trips a semester, team building, equipment rentals, workshops, clinics, high ropes courses, first aid training, rental equipment, and a freshman camp. Not a day goes by when he doesn't take on another project. In another life, Tim was a pre olympic pole vaulter, professional dancer, and dabbled in competitive powerlifting. Now he is an ultra light backpacking enthusiast, RTM instructor, and one of the most personable, kindest, hardest working people you’ll find on campus.