We recruit staff nationally and positions are highly competitive: in a recent year, we drew 80 applications for three staff positions. On average, well over half of our staff are returning instructors, and we see it as a testament to the quality of our programs that staff return year after year.
As a minimum, all staff hold a Wilderness First Aid certification, and at least one member of each backpacking group holds an advanced certification: Wilderness First Responder or EMT. The minimum age for staff is 21 (there is also an internship program for 19 and 20-year-olds), and each year our staff is made up of a variety of people, from enthusiastic educators in their 20s to experienced and equally energetic educators in their 70s. We perform background checks on all staff, and we strive to create a comfortable and trustworthy environment for all Trekkers and families.
Our senior staff and group leaders are experienced outdoor educators, and many of them are classroom teachers during the school year, bringing with them a wealth of educational creativity and a passion for sharing their love of the outdoors with our Trekkers. Our staff team can be divided into two main categories:
Group Staff: These instructors are outdoor educators who are responsible for leading and educating a particular group. They live and work with that group day and night, hiking, backpacking, and exploring the Southwest alongside the Trekkers. Each group has a group leader, a group cook, and 1-3 program staff, who bring an expertise in any variety of subjects: science, anthropology, archaeology, art, and backcountry skills, to name a few.
Specialists: These instructors are hired for their expertise in a particular field. Each summer we hire 1-3 educators in the following areas: archaeologists, artists, naturalists, farmers, and rock climbers. Specialists work with all groups, sharing their fascinating wealth of knowledge and good humor with Trekkers. Many kids discover a newfound interest by working side-by-side with our specialists.
If you are interested in applying for a staff position, please visit our Prospective Staff Page
Our Administration Staff
Kris Salisbury, Executive Director
As our director, Kris brings over two decades of experience in outdoor education and youth development. She loves exploring the backroads and trails, leading the way for the rest of our staff team. Kris is committed to making The Gulch an inspirational place where young people can explore the wild places of the Southwest, while exploring the wild places in themselves. As a climber, backpacker, and water enthusiast, Kris is an advocate for balancing adventure with an ever-present eye to safety.
Lezle Williams, Office Manager
When you call The Gulch, Lezle is often the first voice you hear. She joined us in 2008 and has been keeping us organized ever since! With an MFA from Miami University, she is an accomplished artist and former gallery owner. When not talking with trekkers, parents, and staff, she sometimes joins us at Base Camp to teach trekkers how to create linoleum cut prints. When you are on the phone with her, take a moment to chat about her wood block prints and wood engravings.
Cass Landrum, Associate Director (School Groups and Outreach)
Following a passion for arid lands and an interest in desert ecology, Cass found The Gulch through a Google search. Cass was an Outdoor Educator in New York, North Carolina, Texas and California before calling New Mexico home. She spent her first year falling in love with The Gulch as program staff for the Outfit in 2012, and spend summers since in the role of Naturalist. When she’s not romping through creeks and picking up dead things, she uses her organizational skills and love of the region to connect classrooms to our programs.
Aaron Bumgarner, Associate Director (Logistics and Facility Operations)
Aaron started at The Gulch as a cook for the Outfit Expedition in 2014. Before joining The Gulch, he was working in Indiana as a welder for the railroad. Aaron is a life-long artist, and he loves sharing that passion with the trekkers. Ask him about some of his public art projects! Cooking for kids at The Gulch has lead to Aaron learning more about the food and food systems, and he is really excited to shows kids that healthy eating can be delicious. Bringing kids into the road kitchen to help is such a treat for him. Your child might come home with some new recipes.
Kobe Jane, Associate Director (Field Operations)
Kobe had heard many good things about The Gulch while living in Gallup, NM, which eventually intrigued her to come spend a summer in 2015. She loved her first summer which she spent as the art specialist. Before that, Kobe worked in group homes and day programs for adults with disabilities. She has a passion for connecting people of any age, or ability, to the outdoors through adventure, art, and writing. For the last three summers, Kobe has shared her passions with young people by leading the Art and Music Trek for two summers and otherwise taking students during the school year into the New Mexican outdoors that she loves. When Kobe is not on trek you can find her lost in an art project, rock climbing, running around the Southwest, or swept away with the local scene in Albuquerque.
Tori Baker-White, Associate Director (Enrollment)
Tori joined The Gulch community shortly after receiving her BA in Environmental Studies and Sociology at Bates College. While teaching elementary school in Gallup, she earned her MA in Elementary Education. Tori has spent the past 4 years teaching elementary school and leading the Outfit Expedition** in the summers. When she was ready to take a break from teaching in the classroom, she joined the year-round team to help bring trekkers to The Gulch. Tori loves to play outside and spends time doing everything from skiing and climbing to backpacking and sea kayaking to trail running and mountain biking and she loves to share her passion and enjoyment of the outdoors with others. She also recently caught her first fish!
Andrew Clinkscales – Development Coordinator, Mountain Bike Specialist
Andrew began his journey with The Gulch as program staff for the Outfit Expeditions in 2017. Prior to joining The Gulch, Andrew was a Certified Technical Trainer for a major auto insurer. In his 13 years with the corporate world, Andrew spent his leisure time riding BMX and mountain bikes, completing various building projects, and teaching himself how to be a self-proclaimed auto mechanic and chef. Andrew has a passion for experiential learning and brings his enthusiasm into every interaction where he can share his skills with children and adults alike. This passion is what led him to the Southwest and spotlighted all the opportunities The Gulch could offer for personal growth. Behind the scenes, Andrew has been focusing on everything that goes into the Capital Campaign for The Gulch and jumping into various other projects within the organization.
Monica Stert, Seasonal Grant Writer and Field Instructor
Monica became a member of The Gulch community shortly after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy. Her passion for The Gulch Way and the complexity of the Southwest has expanded her experience from cooking on the road during the summer to include leading treks, working with classroom expeditions during spring and fall, and researching growing opportunities for The Gulch behind the scenes. On and off trek, Monica finds peace playing her guitar in the mountains of Colorado, climbing rocks in the Jemez, and reading thought-provoking books that connect to her new home in the Southwest.