Our guides are professional teachers and outdoor educators with a diverse range of skills from technical rock climbing to sea kayaking and movement therapy. We are recognized leaders with excellent credentials, strong community ethics and a 100% safety record. Choose Essential Skills Outdoor School when you are ready for a deep immersion into the world of adventure education.
Bill Humphrey began guiding in 1988 with Spectrum Wilderness-Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He’s led trips in Ontario, Canada, Big Bend Texas and many points east and west. Certified as a Wilderness First Responder in 1997 and Top Rope Site Manager with American Mountain Guides Association in 2004 he maintains his credentials with continual training and testing. Bill has been guiding at Devil’s Lake State Park since 1992 and averages more than 143 days per year on the rock, trail and in the backcountry. Bill is the owner/operator of Essential Skills Outdoor School.
Jessie Conaway demonstrates a lifetime commitment to outdoor pursuits. She graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in 1989, earned a masters degree in Experiential Education in 2006, and is currently working toward a doctorate in Environment and Resources at U.W. Madison. Jessie has been certified in kayak instruction by the American Canoe Association since 2006, and teaches paddlesports throughout the Upper Midwest. She manages the Outdoor Programs at Three Rivers Outdoors of La Crosse, and teaches for the Department of Recreation Management at U.W. La Crosse, and for the Essential Skills Outdoor School.
Clovis Siemon is a founding member of the Youth Initiative High School, where he first learned to climb in 1997. He is an international filmmaker and audio engineer and has made films for clients in Colombia, Australia, Mexico, UK, Ireland, Japan and throughout the USA. Sustainable and cultural companies such as Organic Valley, National Geographic, Bamboo Living and DANNON are among his list of clients. He lives in Viroqua, WI where he runs the Little Country School, a language immersion school for international students.
AnnaJo Doerr is a Movement Teacher at Three Rivers Waldorf School in LaCrosse, WI. She is a graduate of the Spacial Dynamics Institute in Mechanicsville, NY where she studied with Jaimen McMillan. She also received certification in Bothmer Gymnastics at the same institute. She has been an outdoor enthusiast since childhood with notable experience canoeing, rock climbing, backpacking and world traveling. This spring she travels to Guatemala on a 3-week language immersion trip with students from Youth Initiative High School.
Nicholas Gale has sought and been guided by the wonders of nature since his early childhood. In 1999-2000 he lived in the wilderness, exploring man’s place in the natural world through a year-long wilderness immersion course at Teaching Drum Outdoor School in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Nicholas is learning to master primitive skills, the native lifeway and an awareness of the wilds that has provided for all of our ancestors. He now lives with his family in the hills of the Driftless Region. He seeks to share a more natural lifeway and greater awareness of the wilds around us and within us through wilderness classes, workshops and outings.