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Meet The Crew 2017-01-12T16:48:13+00:00

The Idaho River Journeys Staff

Our crew is outstanding. They come from varied backgrounds, have worked together for a number of seasons and are passionate about sharing their knowledge about the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with our guests. They will show you their favorite places along the way, hike with you to magnificent vistas, help you with your fly casting, introduce you to kayaking and make you feel welcome visiting this remarkable wilderness. You will enjoy spending your vacation with them.

Nate Moody

Hometown: Twin Falls, Idaho
Philosophy, Boise State University
MS, Natural Resource Management and GIS, Northern Arizona University

When you first meet Nate, you will immediately be drawn to his energy and knowledge for the Frank Church Wilderness. Nate fell in love with the Middle Fork from his first trip in 2008. After graduating from Boise State University, Nate continued to follow his drive for protecting wilderness areas and attended Northern Arizona University, he received a master’s in resource management. When not thinking about the Middle Fork he is teaching, ski patrolling, climbing and trying to find water to kayak and fish.

Esa Morrison

Hometown: Quincy, California
Watershed Science, CSU Monterey Bay

Esa grew up along the Feather River in Quincy California. After graduating from college, she worked as a stream surveyor, researching salmon habitat and river watersheds. Her enthusiasm for science lead her to become a Middle School instructor. After a few years of teaching, she transitioned to becoming an outdoor instructor in various fields. She spends the winter working as a private ski instructor at the Yellowstone Club in Montana, and during the spring, teaching wilderness medicine. On a Middle Fork trip, guests thoroughly enjoy Esa’s science and biology background. Providing insight into the different plants and trees that flank the canyon.

Skip Volpert

Hometown: Point Reyes, California
History, University of Oregon

Skip has more than 100 Middle Fork trips on his resume. His knowledge of the river is showed by his excitement to explore the Middle Fork canyons. He knows of many amazing side hikes, often leading early morning or evening adventures to watch the sunrise and sunset. He is a wonderful fly-fisherman and loves to teach beginners how to cast. He enjoys showing kids how to kayak and “surf.” Skip is an avid photographer, often taking long exposures of stars and capturing the Middle Fork landscape.

Sunny Wyatt

Hometown: Pocatello, Idaho
Biology, University of Puget Sound
Pre-Medecine, Idaho State

Sunny grew up exploring the mountains and rivers in Idaho. After studying Molecular Cellular Biology at the University of Puget Sound in Washington, She spent a few years traveling around South America. She returned to Pocatello, Idaho to pursue her goal of becoming a doctor in expedition medicine, studying pre-medicine at Idaho State. In between applying to medical school, Sunny is a ski patroller in Bozeman, Montana. Guests will enjoy her upbeat attitude, guitar playing skills, and being a positive role model for kids.

Dave Walter

Hometown: Missoula, Montana
Welding Technology, University of Montana

Dave Walter was born and raised in Missoula, Montana. He graduated with a degree in welding technology. After college, he moved to Glacier, Montana to work as a fly-fishing guide during the summer and a welding in the winter. Dave transitioned to the Middle Fork from Glacier and has not looked back since. Dave tries his best to fly-fish year around, even during the cold winter months in Montana. When the fishing slows down, Dave travels to South America with his kayak and fishing rod.

Seda Witten

Hometown: Emmett, Idaho
Political Science, Boise State

Seda is an incredible fishing guide. She knows all the “secret spots” on the Middle Fork. She has been guiding since the early 90’s. During the winter, Seda leads travel expeditions all across the globe, usually with a fly rod in her hand. She guides our September Fly Fishing trips.

Brian Chaffin

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Geography, University of Idaho
Geography, PHD Oregon State

From Cincinnati, Brian moved to Moscow to attend the University of Idaho. He began guiding for IRJ in 2002. Brian’s passion and drive for the Middle Fork Salmon lead him into a decade of research and teaching. He finished his Ph.D. in Geography from Oregon State, in 2014. Brian is a professor at the University of Montana. Even with his busy schedule, he is able to guide a few trips for IRJ every year.

Chris Falcone

Hometown: Ketchum, Idaho
Bioenvironmental Science, Texas A&M University

Born in Texas, yet raised in Idaho, Chris soon developed an appreciation for the outdoors. Currently finishing his bachelor’s in Bioenvironmental Science, Chris aims to apply his education and experience to preserving the beauty of nature and protecting rivers. Summer time brings him back to the mountains to spend time exploring the beauty of Idaho.

Hannah Spencer

Hometown: Northfork, Idaho
Biology, University of Montana

Hannah is the fish whisperer. She spends the early summer months guiding fishing trips in Montana, then September for IRJ. She lives in North Fork, Idaho with her husband Geoff and their two amazing babies. Her goal is to guide all the Fly Fishing Middle Fork trips for IRJ till her kids can replace her.

Matt Volpert

Hometown: Point Reyes, California
Geography, University of Santa Barbara

Matt spends his winter in Los Angeles consulting for various start-ups and surfing as much as possible. He is part of the management team at Kern River Outfitters, but gets to Idaho to guide a few of our trips every summer. He enjoys using his tech skills on the river and shooting video. Often showing guest how to set up amazing time lapse with a Go-Pro or other cameras.

Rachael Heskowitz

Hometown: Mill Valley, California
Nursing, Montana State

This will be Rachael’s seventh season on the IRJ crew. Her knowledge of wilderness medicine inspired her to study nursing. At the end of 2014 she finished her nursing degree through Montana State. Her dream is to spend the winters working in medicine, and summers on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Rachael enjoys playing with kids on the river and often leads fun activities such as water coloring, adventure swims, and nature hikes.

Jim Lino

Hometown: Point Reyes, California

Jim lives with his family in Point Reyes, California where he builds custom homes, bakes bread, surfs and cooks a delicious paella. He guides fly-fishing trips on the Middle Fork and in Alaska.

Keri Knudsen

Hometown: Pocatello, Idaho
Nursing, Colorado State

Originally from Minnesota, Keri moved to Idaho for more snow, rivers, and mountain bike trails. She started guiding in the 90’s on the Middle Fork and tries to guide a few trips a year. Besides being an incredible fishing guide, Keri is an expert Middle Fork botanist and will show you many different plants on the trip.  When not on the river, she works in the cardiology department at the Pocatello hospital.

Jo Schroeder

Hometown: Salmon, Idaho
Business Management, Colby
MBA, Acton School of Business

Growing up in Salmon Idaho, the Middle Fork was Jo’s backyard. This is Jo’s 14th season with the IRJ crew. Her passion for the Middle Fork of the Salmon is evident in her knowledge on the geology and plant life of the canyon. She gives many interpretive talks to guest about the ecosystems in the Middle Fork corridor. Jo currently works for Gem Air, a family-owned small airline based in Salmon. She guides 3 to 4 trips a year on the Middle Fork.

Mary Papale

Hometown: Point Reyes, California

Mary is the glue that holds our operation together. She handles reservations and plans our menus. She is Will, Matt and Skip’s mom. She enjoys connecting with our guests by phone and email and getting to know them over the years. Mary’s specialty is planning our trip menu and developing new recipes for our guests to enjoy.

Bob Volpert

Hometown: Point Reyes, California

The founder of IRJ. Bob got his start in the rafting business in 1971. He based the company out of San Francisco operating trips on the American, Stanislaus, Merced, Kern, and Tuolumne rivers. After rafting the Middle Fork in 1977, Bob knew he wanted to be an outfitter on the Middle Fork Salmon. He purchased a Middle Fork company in 1978 and hasn’t looked back. Beyond being an outfitter, Bob advocates for the protection of wilderness areas. He recently co-authored a collection of stories about river guides and outfitters called,  Halfway to Halfway.