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.

Michael Stock

Michael Stock has been getting to know the Grand Canyon for 30 years and learns new things each time he hikes it. He was a schoolteacher on the neighboring Hopi and Navajo Reservations for 16 years, and brings a Native American layer to his Field Institute programs in addition to a comprehensive understanding of the canyon’s natural history. Michael has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University.

Denise Traver

Denise Traver worked for Grand Canyon National Park for five years. As a backcountry ranger she was responsible for search and rescue, law enforcement and emergency medical services. She conducts programs on backpacking, geology and the human and natural history of the canyon.

Scott Thybony

Scott Thybony is a writer and a former river guide and archaeologist. He writes books and articles for major magazines and newspapers including National Geographic, and also writes for National Public Radio. Scott has interviewed a wide range of people, from astronauts to medicine men, and his travels through North America have resulted in award-winning articles. He has lived with Navajo Indians in the American Southwest and the Inuit in the Canadian Arctic, and brings enthusiasm for those living close to the natural world to his work.

Ken Walters

Ken Walters has been backpacking, climbing and skiing throughout western North America since 1961, teaching skiing and wilderness camping since 1977, and leading trips for the Field Institute since its inception in 1993. Within Grand Canyon, he has hiked more than 13,000 miles and climbed 141 buttes. Holding a master’s degree in geology, he worked as an exploration geologist in Montana and Wyoming. Ken also taught commercial photography at Northern Arizona University for 12 years and outdoor and wildlife photography in Yellowstone National Park. Ken is a Leave No Trace master trainer.

Nikki Wayment

Nikki received a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from Utah State University. Her non-profit experience comes from her tenure at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Ga, where she served as Curator of Science and Education. Nikki has been at HawkWatch International (HWI) for 5 years, and loves the opportunity to share their important conservation work with the general public. She enjoys traveling in the west visiting the seven migration sites that HWI manages, especially the Grand Canyon.

Greg Woodall

Greg Woodall earned a bachelor’s degree in botany, with a minor in anthropology/archaeology, from Southern Utah University in 1982. An experienced archaeologist and ethnobotanist, Greg has over 20 years of river and hiking guiding experience in fragile desert areas of the Colorado Plateau. He is particularly interested in the Arizona Strip area between the Grand Canyon and southern Utah. Greg worked in revegetation for the National Park Service at Grand Canyon, and he developed and taught environmental awareness curriculum to Youth Conservation Corps crews for the park.

Marjorie “Slim” Woodruff

Marjorie “Slim” Woodruff was born in Arizona. Growing up in primeval desert, she became comfortable with things that crawl, sting, bite and gnaw, which served her well when she started working with adolescents. While attending Northern Arizona University, she spent much of her free time exploring the Grand Canyon. After graduation she led backpacking trips, taught cross-country skiing, drove a tour bus and otherwise participated in outdoor education and recreation. In her spare time Slim obtained a Ph.D. in computer-based education. She is a technology coach at the Grand Canyon school and maintains several websites.

Amanda Zeman

Amanda Zeman specializes in the history and management of Grand Canyon National Park’s cultural resources. She is the owner of a small cultural resource management company addressing the documentation and preservation of historic resources unique to national parks. Previously, Amanda worked for nearly 10 years with Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks as a cultural resource specialist overseeing the protection and preservation of each park’s diverse collection of historic buildings. As a longtime resident of Grand Canyon Village, she has extensive experience in Grand Canyon’s backcountry and brings knowledge, enthusiasm and a love of Grand Canyon to each endeavor. Amanda holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from Cornell University.