Seth Muir, Executive Director
Seth comes to Salish from the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association where, as Education Director, he hosted over 11,000 students annually on ships in the San Francisco Maritime National Park (and beyond). He has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of Outdoor Experiential Education, Marine Science, Environmental Stewardship, Outdoor Leadership, Classroom Teaching and Non-profit Management. Seth served as Director, curriculum developer, coordinator, guide, educator, middle school science teacher and boat builder at organizations including Marine Science Institute, Camp Galileo, Rippleffect, Mendocino Woodlands, Get Out and Learn and Absolute Adventures. Seth holds a BA in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder and studied Hydrology at the School for International Training in Belize. When not in or on the water Seth can be found taking a walk with his lovely wife Christen and his two young sons, playing guitar, traveling or gardening. He is originally from Maine, but doesn’t have a funny accent.
Martin Blevins, Finance Manager
Martin graduated from Westminster College of Salt Lake City, Utah where he received his BS in Accounting. An active member of our community Martin has volunteered for North Kitsap High School Marching Band Boosters, Boy Scouts and PTA. Martin has been a member of the North Kitsap community since 1998, and currently lives on Bainbridge Island with his wife Heidi and their combined family of four children. In his free time he enjoys going with his family on Adventure Days to explore all the different areas of Western Washington. Martin is also currently employed as the Director of Finance for Martha and Mary Center in Poulsbo, Washington.
Stephanie Burns, Education Director
Stephanie has 20 years experience as an educator in diverse communities and settings in Massachusetts, Florida, California, and Hawai’i. Exploring the beaches of Cape Cod at an early age sparked her love of learning, and as an intern at the New England Aquarium and later at Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, she was introduced to the value of project-based, experiential learning. That discovery of hands-on, hearts-on and minds-on learning continued during her 15 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where for many years she worked at several educational initiatives, including aboard a 90-foot marine research vessel and The JASON Expedition, an inquiry-based program devoted to STEM. During her decade-long career at Galileo Learning, a premier arts and sciences summer innovation program, she authored curriculum, hired and coached hundreds of seasoned and aspiring educators, and introduced thousands of students to an innovation process and pedagogy based on the Stanford d.school Design Thinking model. Most recently she worked as Senior Program Manager at Kupu developing and managing the Sustainability Internship Program for Kamehameha Schools. A lifelong learner, educator, and trainer, Stephanie believes that in order to engage and educate, embracing an individual’s strengths and elevating both their mind and spirit is an integral part of the learning process. From there, anything is possible!
Ryan D’Jay, Program Manager
Ryan began working for Salish in the spring season of 2014 as logistics coordinator. A Colorado native, Ryan’s passion for Marine Sciences stems from a 7th grade field trip aboard the Tole Mour for a multi-day program doing sailing and science off the coast of California. Since then, Ryan has gone on to receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Oceanography with a minor in Marine Biology from the University of Washington. During his undergraduate work, Ryan did research on intertidal ecosystems, shark habitat, and paleoclimatology, and has worked aboard both sailing research vessels and traditional research platforms in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Through his time at UW, Ryan fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and the city of Seattle. When not working for Salish, Ryan he can be found hiking in the Olympics, exploring the coast, and cheering on the Seahawks. He aspires to foster a passion for marine science and nature in kids through experiential education, in the hopes that future generations will care about the conservation of this beautiful area and our marine environment.
Page Pless, Development Director
Page comes to Salish from the University of Washington Center for Child and Family Well-Being where she managed program operations and advancement strategy. Since 2006 she has managed programs and led fundraising initiatives in support of different locally-based organizations, all with the common goal of serving the needs of children. Prior to that, Page designed children’s software at Microsoft. She has a BA in Art History from the University of North Carolina, a Masters of Architecture from Washington University and a certificate from the Fundraising Management Program at the University of Washington. Page currently serves on the Washington Women’s Foundation Impact Assessment Committee and Resource Development Committee. She enjoys sea kayaking, swimming, hiking and all that makes the Pacific Northwest an extra special place to live and explore.
Brenna Sowder, Communications Director
Brenna joined Salish in 2015, and is thrilled to be shining a light on the excitement of science and maritime learning on the Salish Sea. A native New Englander, Brenna grew up on research boats in the Bay of Fundy. She has a BA in Writing and Communications with a minor in Education, as well as an MA in Human Relations. Her professional journey has included managing public relations for a design firm, implementing communications for a land trust, and teaching at an environmental education camp. She has also worked as a marine mammal observer from boats and airplanes, written as a freelance journalist, and wrangled lobsters as a sternman off the coast of Maine. In her down time, she enjoys hiking, gardening, and looking for beach treasures with her husband, Dan, and their two young children.
Kristina Vernik, Development Associate
In 2018, Kristina added her analytical bend to the Salish Sea Expeditions office bringing with her a decade of e-commerce experience from the triathlon industry. She’s also conducted a broad mix of administrative services for local non-profit organizations, performs freelance web development and design, and holds a BA in Environmental Engineering from Montana Tech. She resides in North Kitsap with her husband where their ‘nest’ tends to be in a state of flux as their 3 children transition into adulthood. In addition to spending time with her family, her off-hours are spent reading, hanging with her beagle and cheering on the Seattle Sounders.
Salish Sea Expeditions has a history of attracting and retaining highly qualified staff, and the Spring 2018 season is no exception. We have a great group of both new and returning staff members who bring with them a strong understanding of the program, a love of science and sailing, and an enthusiasm for working with students.
Back Row (L to R) – Sara Grant, Hanna Jones, Brittany Bierria, Amy Nelson, Marina Hein, Tom Weiner;
Front row – Kate Enright, Colleen O’Brien, Michele Barutha, Kathryn Husiak, Chloe Beck, Sihaya Meijer
Michele Barutha – Mate
Michele, originally from Wisconsin, started her maritime career 14 years ago on the Great Lakes working in the galley and then as a deckhand. From there she went to the tall ship Tole Mour and experienced the magic of the ocean for the first time. Since then she’s worked on yachts, small passenger cruise ships, harbor tour boats, large oceanographic research boats, container ships, and multiple training vessels. This has taken her up and down the East Coast, back to the Great Lakes, Southeast Alaska, the Columbia River, the Sea of Cortez, across the Pacific and the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean and parts of the Caribbean. Through this work she’s acquired her third mate unlimited license and 200-ton near coastal master. She feels very fortunate for the career she’s had and is excited to be back with Salish teaching kids and sharing her passion for being on the water.
Chloe Beck – Marine Science Educator
As an Ohio native, Chloe’s passion for sailing and exploration developed at a young age on the waters on Lake Erie. Summer days were spend dingy sailing and being outside in the sun. She went on to study Zoology and International Studies at Miami University. During college, Chloe studied abroad in Patagonia, Chile backpacking and doing ecological research in Patagonia National Park. In 2015, she moved to Seattle for an AmeriCorps position as Conservation Science Coordinator at Seattle Audubon Society. Since then she has fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest. Chloe is looking forward to teaching marine science and going on grand adventures with you all!
Brittany Bierria – Logistics Coordinator
Growing up in Alaska in a family of fisherman, Brittany fell in love with the ocean. Since kindergarten she wanted to be a marine biologist and never gave up on that dream. She went to Humboldt State for marine biology and minored in scientific scuba diving. While in school, she taught swimming and her passion for teaching grew. After graduation, she decided to combine her love of the ocean and teaching. For the past year she has taught youth about the importance of marine conservation. Her goal is to teach as many of the next generation about the importance of the ocean and what they can do to save it.
Kate Enright – Mate
Kate is from Ipswich, MA, and loved the chances she got while growing up there to explore the coastline of New England: messing around in rowboats, tidepooling, and squishing through marshes. She studied Earth & Environmental Science at Wesleyan University, and spent the spring of 2014 on the Robert C. Seamans with SEA, studying climate science and getting the sailing bug, hard. Since graduating, she has worked on educational sailboats/tall ships, including the sloop Clearwater, Corwith Cramer, and schooners Seaward and Adventure. In her spare time, you will find Kate reading, dreaming about gardening, and finding any excuse to be out in a small rowboat once more. She is super excited to get to see the beauty of the Puget Sound!
Sara Grant – Program Coordinator
Sara is originally from Illinois – she grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and later moved to the city to attend college. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a BA in Environmental Studies and Earth Science. Her curiosity and passion for the natural world surfaced while on a cross country road trip to explore what was beyond the Midwest. This trip sparked a desire to inspire youth to explore science and develop a positive relationship with nature. She has spent the past four years working as an Environmental Educator with an environmental camp and as a Program Coordinator with a conservation/stewardship program for high school students. Having recently relocated to Washington, Sara is eager to explore her new surroundings and to learn as much as she can about her new home. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, kayaking, nature photography and painting.
Marina Hein – Deckhand
Marina graduated from Northland College with a degree in biology and a background in water chemistry research with Great Lakes coastal wetlands and lakes. She learned to sail while racing and cruising among Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands, where she began leading sailing trips for incoming Northland students. She has most recently completed sails from Puerto Rico to Massachusetts and across Lake Superior, and is also a Wilderness First Responder. Her favorite place to be on a boat is enjoying the view while making repairs at the top of the mast or napping on the foredeck beneath the spare sails. Marina is excited to get out on the water to talk about her top two passions: science and sailing.
Kathryn “Kat” Husiak – Deckhand
Born and raised in New York City, Kat credits her 14 summers at sleep away camp for fostering her passion for nature, child development, and sailing. She graduated from Eckerd College with a degree in Marine Biology and Environmental Studies. During her time in college, Kat focused her studies on Elasmobranchs, symbioses and parasitism, and invertebrate biology. She had the pleasure of sailing aboard the SV Corwith Cramer twice as a student researcher and fell in love with the sunrise hours while on watch. In her spare time you can find Kat working on her embroidery crafts or snuggling with various fuzzy animals.
Hanna Jones – Logistics Coordinator
Hanna grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and developed a love for exploring the natural world at a young age. She always knew she wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest and eventually moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University where she designed a degree titled the Interaction of Marine Science, Environmental Policy, and Community Education. Since graduation, she has served as an AmeriCorps member and worked as a naturalist, engaging students of all ages in learning about water quality, marine ecology, and salmon in Skagit Valley, Olympia, and South King County. In her free time she enjoys scuba diving, hiking, and birdwatching. She is thrilled to have to the opportunity to share her love of the Salish Sea with others and spend more time on the water.
David Leanza – Captain
David grew up messing about in boats with his dad on Lake Erie. He has worked professionally aboard nine different sailing vessels, four of them as captain, on both coasts of the US, in the Great Lakes, and in the Bahamas. David spent 13 years in Michigan as captain and program director of Windward Bound sailing camp programs where he managed youth volunteers throughout the year and led trips aboard traditionally rigged schooners each summer. When not working on the water, David enjoys doing carpentry and design projects. He studied Sustainable Building and Design at Yestermorrow Design School in Warren, VT. He recently completed the renovation of a 118-year-old home and designed two new homes which were built near Pontiac, MI. David studied Music at University of Miami and enjoys playing drums and percussion.
Sihaya Meijer – Program Coordinator
Sihaya grew up in Santa Cruz exploring California’s redwood forests, beaches and tide pools. She learned how to swim in the ocean at age 6 while living briefly in Hawaii. Her love for the ocean grew when she learned to sail aboard a 37′ sloop she crewed from Key West, Florida to Rockland, Maine. She now owns her own sailboat in the San Francisco Bay and sails it whenever she can. She has a 50-ton Masters Captain’s license. She has always loved teaching and found her niche with Wild Child Free School, where she worked as a nature guide and Program Coordinator for six years taking children on hiking expeditions in the Silicon Valley. She has studied Botany and Herbal health care with the North East School for Botanical Medicine. She has also volunteered with small-time local seaweed companies to learn about the edible and medicinal effects of seaweeds. In the summer she works in Alaska helping to manage the Salmon runs in Bristol Bay. She is passionate about maintaining the health of the natural world and learning to balance human impact, and studying the connectivity of all things.
Amy Nelson – Captain
Amy Nelson, originally from northern New Jersey, developed a passion for the ocean during annual family trips to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. During summers on Lake Winnipesauke in New Hampshire she learned to jibe her first sailboat, crank an outboard, and be comfortable on the water. Amy studied Marine Biology at UNC Wilmington, spending a semester abroad in Australia focusing on marine ecology and conservation. After graduation, she traveled internationally, obtaining three years sailing experience while earning her USCG credentials. Whether kite surfing in the Philippines, cruising into Monterey Bay alongside Risso’s dolphins, SCUBA diving in Bonaire, or delivering vessels to the Caribbean, Amy has remained an environmental advocate and an enemy of microplastics everywhere. She spent the past year aboard America’s environmental flagship, the sloop Clearwater, educating students about the Hudson River while working as the engineer and enjoying the opportunity to fill in as relief captain. When not on the water, you can find Amy tossing a frisbee, hiking, strumming the guitar, snowboarding or working on her tele turns.
Colleen O’Brien – Marine Science Educator
Growing up near Lake Erie, Colleen developed an early curiosity for aquatic ecosystems which eventually led her to study Marine Science (B.S) and Biochemistry (B.S) at Eckerd College, where she graduated in 2015. After college, she spent time in Indonesia researching mangroves, and throughout the Southwest working for a conservation corps. In 2016, she worked as an Educator/Deckhand aboard the Schooner Adventuress, followed by a stint this fall as an Educator/Deckhand with the World Ocean School, voyaging from New England to the Caribbean with a class of high schoolers. In her free time she can usually be found backpacking, rock climbing or tidepooling for those elusive nudibranchs. She’s excited to be able to combine her love for marine science and sailing, and is looking forward to further exploring the Salish Sea!
Tom Weiner – Captain
Tom is originally from the east coast where he learned to sail in small racing sloops in New Jersey. He did his first tropical trip managing a bare boat charter in the Virgin Islands quite a few years ago, and enjoyed it so much he and his wife Linda returned with some good friends and did a repeat. Tom has worked in the charter yacht business sailing as captain on 50 ft sloops and 60 ft ketches in Antigua and the Virgin Islands. Several years ago they packed it all up and moved west to the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Here they bought a restaurant business and ran it for nine years, but missed being on the water, and after selling they promptly got involved with the schooner Adventuress program, where he and his wife have been volunteers for more than a decade. Tom has since been a captain on the schooner Suva doing local charter work in Port Townsend and the San Juans, and he has worked with Dolphin Charters in Alaska on wildlife photography trips. Most recently Tom signed on with the Maritime Discovery program through the maritime center in Port Townsend as a captain with their longboat program. This will be Tom’s third season with Salish Sea Expeditions.