Instructor Biographies

text: The Grand Canyon Field Institute

Instructor Biographies

Expert Field Instructors

Grand Canyon Field Institute is proud of its outstanding team of instructors. Made up of resource experts possessing PhD's, Masters and Bachelors degrees, our instructors continually share their passion for Grand Canyon with others. The following is a list of instructors that will likely be leading classes during the upcoming season.

If the class description lists the instructor as “Field Institute staff,” one of the following instructors will serve in that capacity. Preclass materials will indicate which instructor has been scheduled for your class, or you can call the Field Institute office for the latest information on specific assignments. All instructors listed, with the exception of Mike Buchheit, Jack Pennington and Elaine Maier, are acting as independent contractors while leading courses and performing duties for the Field Institute. Mike, Jack, and Elaine are full-time employees of the Grand Canyon Field Institute.

Listed alphabetically by last name.
Need to find someone quickly and you know their name? Use the "Search this site" function in the upper right of the page.

Elaine Hultgren

Elaine is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art with a major in painting and a minor in printmaking, and is a multi-talented artist. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited in several juried shows, and her graphic design work and illustrations have been published in books, magazines and newsprint. Elaine is also an Emmy award winning animation artist who has worked in the television, film, and computer gaming industry for over 25 years as a storyboard and concept artist. Upon moving to Phoenix AZ, a life long love of all things green led her to enroll in the Desert Botanical Garden’s Botanical Art and Illustration certificate program in 2005 from which she graduated in 2010. She has been an instructor at the Desert Botanical Garden since 2007 teaching botanical drawing, watercolor, silverpoint, nature sketching and journaling, and a variety of nature classes. Elaine has taken her Nature Sketching & Journaling workshop on the road to the Toledo Botanical Garden, Ohio Side-Cut Metro Park, and Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kelley Ingols

Kelley began her yoga teaching career in 2004 after taking a yearlong emersion and teacher training in the Anusara yoga tradition. A schoolteacher by vocation, Kelley quickly became a well-loved yoga teacher in the Grand Canyon community. After six years at the canyon, Kelley moved back to Flagstaff, where she continues to teach yoga at Northern Arizona University and the Yoga Experience. Kelley’s other loves, community and nature, compel her to bring people to her Grand Canyon backyard to combine yoga and hiking. She has been organizing and leading yoga workshops and retreats at Grand Canyon since 2003. Her classes transform students through the freedom and ease revealed through good alignment and moving from the heart. She loves to make class playful and challenging, and she consistently invites students to embrace their lives as a vehicle to health, happiness and vitality.

Lisa Kearsley

Lisa Kearsley came to love the Grand Canyon spending her childhood summers on the North Rim while her father studied Kaibab squirrels. She finally was able to move to Arizona in the 1980’s to earn a master’s degree in biology at Northern Arizona University. And, like many who have come to Arizona, she never left.

She has worked for the National Park Service at Grand Canyon as an interpretive park ranger and as a researcher, studying vegetation trends and the effects of Glen Canyon Dam on river campsites. Her love of river running drew her to Utah’s San Juan River, which prompted her to write and publish the San Juan River Guide, a comprehensive guidebook for river runners. In addition to leading backpack trips with the Field Institute, she leads outdoor education trips and provides lectures on the Colorado Plateau for Road Scholar, works intermittently for the Park Service, and is a natural science illustrator.

Gary Ladd

Gary Ladd is a freelance large-format photographer specializing on the wilderness interior of Grand Canyon, the surprisingly pristine sandstone landscapes surrounding Lake Powell and the slickrock terrains of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. His photographs have appeared in a variety of magazines and books including Life, Newsweek, Professional Photographer, National Geographic Adventure, Sierra Press books and National Geographic books. Gary’s awards include the 1997 gold, 1998 silver and 2005 silver Arizona Highways Awards for Best Photography of the Year and the 2004 Grand Canyon Historical Society’s Pioneer Award. Gary has lived in Page, Arizona, along the Colorado River for 27 years. He has led trips for the Museum of Northern Arizona, Sierra Club, Arizona Highways, Grand Circle Field School and Elderhostel. He has completed over 75 backpacking trips and over 30 river trips at Grand Canyon, and has rowed his wooden dory through the canyon numerous times since 1973.

Stewart W. Lasseter

Stewart W. Lasseter has been teaching and exploring in the Southwest and afar for more than 25 years. He came to Arizona for studies in Geosciences and Languages at The University of Arizona and stayed to explore the Southwest’s rich natural and archaeological history. He expanded his explorations throughout the Americas fascinated by all forms of self-impelled travel: rafting and kayaking in California, Wyoming, West Virginia and Patagonia, cycling treks in Europe, South America, and the Great West, and backpacking in mountains from Maine to Washington to Tierra del Fuego. Today you’ll find him facilitating adventure philanthropy projects and adventure-based educational programs in the US, Mexico, Chile, and Central America and consulting on stress management and wellness for students, corporate clients, and indigenous peoples.

Larry Lindahl

Larry Lindahl enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for photography with his strong focus on the artful side of the medium. He is a professional freelance photographer and writer whose work frequently appears in books, magazines and scenic calendars. Arizona Highways magazine has published feature stories about Larry’s Grand Canyon hiking trips and several portfolios of his landscape images. In his book Secret Sedona: Sacred Moments in the Landscape, he thoroughly explores his connection to Sedona’s sandstone wilderness in photography and field journal entries collected over a 12-year period. His landscape photography can be seen in the now-classic book Grand Canyon: The Vault of Heaven and is featured in the award-winning book Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography. Larry lives at the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Sedona, Arizona.

Elaine Maier

Elaine Maier was born in Illinois but raised in Arizona. She has spent much of her time backpacking and hiking the Southwest. For over 20 years, she has hiked extensively in the Grand Canyon. Elaine has worked as a trail guide, river guide and tour leader in the Southwest, and taught backpacking and hiking skills classes for several parks and recreation departments in the Phoenix area. When not on the trail with Field Institute participants, Elaine is in our office assisting instructors and students as they prepare for their journey into the Grand Canyon.

Charles Matheus

Charles Matheus is an Arizona native who has bachelor’s degrees in natural history and education from Cornell University. He taught high school biology for several years, along the way working with his students to monitor local streams and rangelands and develop keys for identifying aquatic invertebrates and riparian trees. For several years, Charles traveled to Costa Rica with the Organization for Tropical Studies to teach graduate-level courses in canopy access and arboreal research techniques. Charles is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Mountain Instructor’s Course and has led extended trips in most of the West’s major mountain ranges and deserts. He likes to combine his passion for backcountry living and biology by keeping trip-by-trip species lists of flowering plants and birds. Besides leading canyon trips, Charles runs his own business building organic food gardens in people’s backyards.

Melanie Miles

Melanie Miles, a native of England, is a teacher and naturalist who has led groups through the Grand Canyon and down the Colorado River as a guide/naturalist for Yavapai and Prescott Colleges of Arizona and Woodswomen of Minneapolis. She has taught earth science, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling and backcountry skills from Catalina Island to the Isle of Wight.

Steve Monroe

Steve Monroe is a hydrologist and aquatic ecologist with the National Park Service, working on water issues in national parks throughout the southern Colorado Plateau. He previously worked for more than 15 years with the U.S. Geological Survey. Steve has hiked extensively throughout the Grand Canyon to research the hydrology and ecology of its springs and seeps. Based in Flagstaff, Steve is an avid explorer of the Four Corners region, hiking and skiing in the area’s spectacular mountains and wandering endless canyons by boat and on foot. Steve holds a master’s degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University.