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.

Glen Rink

Glen Rink is a master botanist and an avid birder with a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s degree in biology from Northern Arizona University. He has over 22 years of river and hiking guiding experience in remote desert wilderness settings. Glen has been a Grand Canyon river guide since 1981 and has rowed river trips in Central America.

Frank Romaglia

As a Southwest Airlines captain, Frank Romaglia flew over the Grand Canyon hundreds of times and finally decided to change venues and spend more time at the bottom. Putting his organismal biology degree from Rutgers to work, Frank has been guiding for outfitters and Elderhostel for the last seven years. He also leads educational hikes and teaches for McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and Fountain Hills Conservancy. Frank volunteers for Project Great Outdoors, taking underprivileged children river rafting in the Sierra Nevada. He has also been a part of numerous National Park Service archaeological and biological research projects.

Amanda Sahli

Amanda grew up in Los Angeles, California, but knowing that the city life was not her destiny, immediately after high school she moved to the closest university to the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona University, where she studied literature and art history. She also studied Spanish and International Literature in Mexico and New Zealand. For over 15 years Amanda has lived in the Grand Canyon area studying, exploring , teaching, guiding, and more exploring. Amanda's goal in guiding is to help people understand and enjoy nature and to help them become sustainable lifelong learners. She spends winters living and working at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and summers on the South Rim leading tours. When not sharing her passion of the region with others Amanda enjoys making art and traveling the world finding new trails to hike and bike and new rivers to raft.

Christa Sadler

Christa Sadler has worked with the Field Institute since its inception in 1993. She is a geologist, educator and naturalist with a serious addiction to rivers, deserts and mountains. She has pursued research in archaeology, geology and paleontology across much of the globe, including searching for dinosaurs in Montana, fighting off dust storms and overly curious camels in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and steering clear of annoyed marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands. Christa teaches geology and guides in the canyons and on the rivers of the Southwest in the spring and fall, and escapes to Alaska in the summers. She also runs This Earth, a small business that takes geology and fossil programs to children around the country, and designs Earth science exercises, programs and field trips for students in grades K–12. Christa’s writing and photographs have appeared in Plateau Journal, Sedona Magazine and Earth Magazine, and she is the author of Life in Stone and the editor of the anthology There’s This River … Grand Canyon Boatman Stories.

Jake Slade

Since moving to Northern Arizona in 2006, Jake's love for the Grand Canyon has only grown. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2009 with a B.S in Global and Environmental Change, Jake's life trajectory took a major turn after his first rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. He went from being a classroom teacher to a full fledged outdoor educator. 5 years later and he works as a backpacking guide as well as an outdoor educator for school groups who come to explore the area. He believes that the potential power of outdoor experiential education cannot be matched in any other form. The Grand Canyon has become his classroom and he would not have it any other way.

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.