Born and raised in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest, Melissa has always been interested in the natural environment, science and health and fitness. As a child she enjoyed many hiking adventures with her family in the beautiful alpine and coastal regions of Washington State. Favorites include the Big Four Ice Caves, Mount Pilchuck, Deception Pass and Wallace Falls. Her family also spent many summers camping and taking road trips around the Western U.S. These experiences helped her develop a deep appreciation, love and fondness for nature.
In High School, Melissa participated in cross country running, orienteering, Environmental Club and JROTC which provided a great foundation for her outstanding skills in outdoor education, wilderness leadership and natural history.
Following High School, Melissa attended Central Washington University where she graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Primate Behavior and Ecology. While in college she developed a passion for community service and worked with Circle K, Kiwanis and the Northwest Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Graduation from college provided a key transitional phase in Melissa’s life. It was during this time that she discovered a passion and love for yoga. Little did she realize how profoundly positive an effect yoga would have on her and her life journey. Speaking of profound effects, it was also at this time that she met her husband.
It was her husband who introduced her to the world of mountaineering and wilderness adventure. Not one to back down from a healthy challenge, her first backpacking trip was to a little known summit in the North Cascades known as Mount Blum. Ascending Mount Blum involves an arduous 3 mile bushwhack through steep, brushy terrain with 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Basecamp is a beautiful multi-tiered alpine cirque complete with three interconnected turquoise blue tarns. Melissa quickly discovered how difficult and challenging the trip was through tears and muscle aches, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to go backpacking again. Melissa loves the idea of considering nature her home when camping and the simplicity of life that accompanies this unique and amazing experience.
Melissa also has a great passion for photography that was developed through her many travels across the U.S. and in Europe. She has taken a variety of photography classes along the way which helped her further enhance her unique photographic skills. Her greatest interest is nature and abstract photography. She utilized this passion to start her own company—Namaste Photography and to help design the Photography and Natural History adventures offered at North American Wilderness Leadership School.
Melissa is the founder and director of the Northwest Yoga Conference which aims to celebrate the local northwest yoga community. She brings her passion and love for yoga to North American Wilderness Leadership School where she helped create the Yoga In The Wild program. This unique program combines the art and practice of yoga with the unique and amazing wonders of the natural environment. Program offerings include Backpacking adventures in Southern Utah and Western Washington, Yoga Adventure Day in Washington and Yoga Camping Retreats in Southern Utah and Western Washington. She really enjoys teaching others about new things, especially yoga, nature and photography.
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