TITLE: Founder/Master Guide, 37 North Expeditions
Where are you from originally? Where did you relocate from and when?
I grew up just across the border in Monett, Missouri. I attended Drury University in Springfield, MO where I played soccer, received a Masters in Architecture and my MBA.
After graduation, I moved to NYC where I worked as a commercial architect for Kohn Pedersen Fox in Manhattan. For most of my 4 years at the firm, I worked on the Hudson Yards Project, the largest private real estate development in U.S. history. While in NYC I started adventure guiding as a side gig, leading everything from day trips to upstate New York to Kilimanjaro Summits.
I fell in love with adventure tourism and ended up making a career shift and taking a job as the Expedition Manager at a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World in Ecuador. In 2017, I moved back to the Ozarks to be with my family after my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Tell us something about yourself that folks might not know.
I am super passionate about traveling as much as I can! So far, I have had the opportunity to visit 36 countries.
What are some of your favorite things about the region?
We have such an amazing pedestrian-first mentality (especially in urban core areas) that allows residents to experience the advantages of smaller towns mixed with the amenities of bigger cities. The fact that we can bike our kid to daycare and walk to almost any restaurant type or store we need is such a large part of why we love where we live.
Speaking about the larger Ozarks region—we have some of the best natural resources in the entire country. We are so lucky to live in a part of the country with vibrant seasons, allowing for outdoor exploration year-round. And our rivers, our rivers are unlike anywhere else in this amazing country.
What do you do in your free time?
I literally laughed out loud when I read “free time”. Between owning a small business and having a 2-year-old, traditional free time is hard to come by! Beyond taking a family bike ride, I try to spend every second I can in a canoe—my happy place. On most mornings, I am either gravel riding or training for Adventure Racing.
Someone that has never been to the region is coming for 24 hours, what should they do, where should they go?
If someone only has 24 hours I would suggest getting on a bike and taking the trails to all the cultural and community amenities. Skip the car and take the greenway to Crystal Bridges and then downtown Bentonville for some food and drinks. While other communities have trails, nowhere has trails in the urban center like Northwest Arkansas. Our trails are what most people consider sidewalks, connecting you to everything you need and want.
If you were to give the region a tagline, what would it be?
Experience Capital of the World.
What makes Northwest Arkansas special?
In my opinion, our special sauce goes beyond a better work-life balance and having great trail systems. Yes, the connection to the outdoors and biking is impactful, but the community events and gatherings are what set us apart from other communities. Life is experienced here.
What causes are you passionate about? What inspires you?
Being proactive about our health (both mental and physical) is something I believe our community, and society in general, desperately need to place more focus on. It seems that everything health-related is reactionary instead of proactive in nature. 37 North firmly believes in the power of nature, and that programming is the key to getting more people to find their passion for the great outdoors.
Speaking of 37 North, tell us some things about 37 North Expeditions that we can’t find on the website.
37 North curates exceptional outdoor experiences with aspirations to make it simple for anyone to fall in love with nature. We have trips that are great options for non-traditional weekend activities, but many do not know how much we do in the youth and corporate wellness spaces. This year, we adventured with over 350 youth in all sorts of outdoor-focused programs. We also have some amazing corporate relationships that go much deeper than days out of the office, many focus on experiential team-building retreats and monthly programming that focus on mental and physical health benefits.
What has been the coolest moment in your professional career?
I had the opportunity to work as the Expedition Manager for a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the world in South America. That experience was dreamy in all the obvious ways, but it was the road that led me there which had the most impact on my life. I graduated with a master’s in Architecture and had a very successful early career in that field, but it was unfulfilling in many ways. Deciding to leave such a promising career in pursuit of something that I was more passionate about ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Finally, what is your hope for the future of the region?
The challenge with the hyper-growth the region is experiencing, at least from an outdoor advocate perspective, is around resources being overutilized. My hope is that we continue to prioritize protecting our natural spaces (inside cities and outside of them) so that the outdoors continue to work for the region not against it.