Staff Bios

Staff Bios

Germaine Bartlett-Graff
Edventure Program Coordinator; Curriculum Development; Lead Instructor

GBG photo3As a Taos native, Germaine’s love for the mountains, rivers and cultures that depend on them, began early in life. She began her work as an outdoor and experiential educator in 2007 leading outdoor and environmental education programs with the Field Institute of Taos and Naturalists at Large and is currently the Nepal Course Director for experiential study abroad programs with Where There Be Dragons seasonally.

When not working in the mountains, Germaine spends her free playing in them, skiing, rafting, hiking and forever learning from the wonders of the natural world. From the mountains and rivers of the southwestern United States to the Nepal and Indian Himalayas, Germaine has always been inspired by the natural environment.

With a passion for teaching young people and playing in the mountains with them, Germaine provides students with the opportunity to learn about the natural world and environmental issues with greater depth and understanding, which in turn enables them to cultivate a greater awareness of themselves and the world in which they live.

Currently Germaine divides her time between Taos, New Mexico and Nepal. She has BA in Religious Studies and Psychology from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is Wilderness First Responder and CPR Certified.

Sean Cassily
Assistant Director; Lead Instructor; Team FITaos Coach; Logistics Guy

sean FITSean Cassily grew up in the rural mountains of northern New Hampshire where he developed a love for everything outdoors. He has worked for F.I.T. since 2002 and has coached alpine skiing since 2003. In both jobs Sean enjoys connecting youth to our natural world by engaging youth in lifelong activities that are fun.

In 1996 Sean moved to Taos and became intrigued by the dramatically different ecosystems that exist in Northern New Mexico. Sean began to learn about the local Taos eco-systems and was fascinated by the differences from the woods of the East Coast. He realized that sharing his love for the outdoors and sharing his curiosity about the natural world was a path worth following. He began working with F.I.T. in 2002 and has been an integral part of the team ever since.

Sean has a degree from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

Audrey Edinger
Lead Instructor (on leave Summer 2016 while she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail)

Audrey FITRaised in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, Audrey remembers the first time she went camping on the banks of the Delaware River when she was six years old. After a serious childhood interest in a career as a western doctor, she pursued poetry in high school and studied biochemistry and exercise & sport studies at Smith College. Since graduating in 2010, Audrey has hiked the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail, lived on several farms in Colorado, and recently discovered the fun of boating (or floating) the Rio Grande. She has worked with children and students in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico as a tutor and teacher in public schools and at Trinidad State Junior College. In her free time she likes to hike, dream about her next long hike, eat good food, rock climb, hula hoop, and knit with fervor. Her favorite place to wake up is in her tent.

Susie Fiore
Founder; Executive Director; Lead Instructor; Team FITaos Coach; Office Maven and Chief Bottle Washer

Susie Fiore, FounderSusie founded Field Institute of Taos out of a strong desire to combine her love of the outdoors, natural sciences, and working with youth and share this magical combination with the community. Raised in California in a large family that spent a lot of time camping and exploring, she has always felt happy, energized, and challenged outdoors. On family camping trips as a child, her favorite activity was washing rocks in any accommodating creek and building tiny houses of mud and sticks. After graduating from Colorado College where Susie thrived on the experiential style of field courses, especially in archeology and geology, and working for the college for 2 years, she made the move to Taos.

After seven years splitting her seasons between working as an archeologist for the Forest Service and a supervisor of the children’s ski school, the dream of Field Institute of Taos became a reality. In 1996, Field Institute of Taos was founded and a new, exciting journey began.

When she isn’t in the field with kids hiking and biking or in the office keeping up on administrative duties, planning and scheming, Susie spends time skiing, camping, mountain biking, traveling and going on as many adventures as possible both big and small with her family. Seeing the world through her son’s eyes is magical. She thrives on this lifestyle where her world adapts with the changing seasons. Susie can also be found teaching spinning and ski conditioning classes and personal training at a local gym as well as working in a local ski shop.

Malia Reeves
Lead Instructor

Malia is a native Taos local who grew up playing outside in these beautiful mountains. After leaving home early to complete her high school education at an international boarding school in Wales, UK, she attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. When she arrived at Dartmouth, she became actively involved in the Dartmouth Outing Club. Before she knew it, she was a college certified leader in rock climbing, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing. Malia moved home to Taos after graduating with a degree in Fine Arts. She has since thrived on the seasonal existence of working winters as a Ski Patroller at Taos Ski Valley, summers guiding teen outdoor adventure trips all over the world, and the off seasons creating and exhibiting her artwork. Malia’s continuing passion for outdoor education stems from her love for sharing with others the beauty and exhilaration of being outside.

Liana Sonne
School, EdVenture and Community Outreach Coordinator; Lead Instructor; 

Liana SonneAs a young’un, Liana grew up camping in the deserts and mountains of the Southwest US, living some years in a pop-up camper or truck travelling the country with her family. Liana fell in love with everything from ocean animals to desert plants. She began working at fifteen with wildlife in need of rehabilitation, soon thereafter working with tigers at a Conservation Facility. She ventured into the fields of Environmental Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Liana has generated lessons and curricula that have made for an abundance of experiential learning opportunities to youth across the country.

Liana’s work experience is extensive, her depth and breadth of knowledge is astounding and her energy level is high. Past work has included Nature’s Classroom Institute, Desert Discovery Center, Siberian Tiger Conservation Association, Audubon Raptor Center, Ohio Wildlife Center, Savannah Urban Garden, Windspirit Ecovillage, EarthCare and Cho Ku Rei Ranch.

Having studied ecology and environmental education at the masters and undergraduate level, Liana persists in investigating every subject from lichens to pegacorns to sociobiology. Fun facts: derby daredevil, avid cyclist who prefers a bike over a car, huge fan of exploration, loves rock climbing, growing food, dancing, backpacking, river play and all things outdoors.

Nate Williard
Mountain Bike Coach

My name is Nate Williard and I find happiness in the mountains. Whether my tires are navigating through sick dirt over high mountains in the summer or I’m pointing my skis though deep snow in the winter, nothing beats being high in the mountains. All the pieces that go into mountain biking are what make it so special for me. Route finding, bike handling, braving the elements, and bike preparation are all little parts of what go into mountain biking. It makes it challenging yet rewarding. I enjoy sharing my riding style with the youth and seeing them enjoy all aspects of biking. Not only enjoying the difficulty of the uphill but also being able to point the bike downhill with confidence! Seeing a young athlete be enthusiastic and excited throughout the whole of a ride is always a treat.

Andrew “Rosey” Hayett
Assistant Director of FIT Neighborhood Camp

Growing up outside of New York City, Andy “Rosey” Hayett became enchanted the first time he visited Taos in 1979 at the age of ten. He ultimately moved to Taos in 1993 after graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in English and Environmental Science.

Rosey has worked with young people for over 25 years, sharing his love of athletics, the arts and the outdoors. He has been a group leader at preeminent New England summer camps, taught in local Taos schools, coached youth ski racing, and instructed skiing at TSV for the past 20 years,. Rosey has offered numerous after school and summer camps in Taos since 2010 through the nonprofit organization, Woogaboo.

In his free time Rosey loves to spend time with his wife and two small children. He is an avid hiker, Ultimate (Frisbee) player, music buff and has recently created a radio show on KNCE Taos. He is very excited about being part of the Field Institute of Taos team, having been a great fan of the organization for many years.

Emily Manfredi
Director of FIT Neighborhood Camp, Lead Instructor and Administrative Assistant

Emily Mendez photoWhile studying education at UNM, Emily fell in love with the idea of working with youth outside of the confines of a classroom. From the after-school programs to teen mentorship camps she worked with, she became hooked on the positive relationship building that came with the freedom from a desk and a whiteboard. Although creating curricula and lesson planning has always fit her organized personality, there is something magical about having the flexibility to run, play, swim, and just be silly outside with a group of kids that has her loving her summers with the Field Institute of Taos. It’s the perfect combination of education and excitement. Other than working, she snowboards and does yoga all winter, hikes and camps all summer, and just loves to be outside doing what feels good. When not at work, Emily spends the majority of her time playing, loving, and just being with her quickly growing son, who is the light of her life.

Aimee Lynn Stearns
Lead Instructor

Aimee Lynn was born and raised in Taos, NM and has been a part of FIT since she was a young camper. She worked as a CIT and Junior Counselor for FIT for several summers. She loves to share in the magic of curiosity with young people while out playing and learning in the mountains. Aimee Lynn has a passion for nurturing awareness, sense of wonder and engagement and knows how important this is for the health of our families, friends, and communities.

Being a part of FIT has allowed Aimee Lynn to cultivate her interest in human development, experiential learning, and mentorship. Growing up in the mountains has helped her develop a spirit of adventure and appreciation of beauty and excellence. She is also interested in literature, art and culture, and well-being studies and loves to read, write, paint, ski and hike. Aimee Lynn has a BA in Psychology and English from the University of New Mexico and is certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid and CPR.

Michael Wagener
Mountain Bike Coach

red bioMichael’s (aka Red, Pink, or Bow for Rainbow) passion for cycling has allowed him to meet amazing people in all walks of life, and from all over the planet. He competes in races that push both physical and mental boundaries. “The greatest reason I love cycling is the freedom to explore some of the most beautiful, peaceful, and wondrous places on this earth! Working with young riders and sharing this love of cycling is equally as gratifying as any personal achievements. I love seeing the sheer joy when they ride a technical section or climb to a mountain top never before thought possible! Most importantly, I love that they remind me why I first fell in love with cycling…it’s really, really, REALLY FUN!” In his free time, Red is takes care of his restaurant, Aceq in Arroyo Seco.