Northwest SarCon
Hosted by Clackamas County Sheriff

Speaker/Instructor Biographies

SARCon Speaker/Instructor Biographies

Robert Aberle

Robert Aberle is a Lead Paramedic and currently works for American Medical Response NW in Clackamas County Oregon.  Robert has 21 years of experience in EMS and joined the AMR Reach and Treat Team in 2001.  Robert has served in the military and is a vital resource for the team with swiftwater and rope rescue operations.  He holds national instructor certifications with each.

Laurie Adams

Since 1999, Laurie has been an active member of Jefferson County, Oregon, Camp Sherman Hasty Team, which is a small team that trains all members in all aspects of SAR.Laurie's primary SAR interests include mounted, navigation, and Air Scent, having spent considerable time in the last few years, along with Kate Beardsley, developing some searching and scanning practices to help improve mounted teams' effectiveness in the field.

Laurie's long standing activity in the world of education and fly-fishing has had her in remote locations in the field and brings proficiency in SAR scenarios closer to home.

Richard Adler

Richard Adler has been a SAR volunteer for twelve years. He had spent five years with JOSAR (Joshua Tree National Park) and the past seven years with DCSSAR (Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue).  Adler has thirty plus years of experience as a climber and skier, and in the past seven years has become a mountain bike junkie.

Adler was raised in Augusta Georgia, and has lived in Bend for the past eight years.  As an avid mountain biker he saw an opportunity to use mountain bikes as an effective tool to reach, treat, and plan evacuations.

Colin Baessler

Colin Baessler has been a K9 Handler since 2005 with the HEMSI (Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc.) Search Dog Unit, a volunteer Search and Rescue Special Team of Huntsville's primary EMS Corporation. HEMSI is the most successful Search and Rescue team in Alabama. Colin has served as Deputy Chief for 4 of those years and Chief of the unit as of January 2012. As the unit Chief, she oversees the training of 15 dog teams. She is also the lead trainer for the unit where she mentors and develops the trainers under her. She sets the training standards as well as the goals for every single team member.

Colin has attended numerous schools and seminars focusing on dog training, behavior and drive. She has trained dozens of dogs for both herself and others. Her black lab, Jackson, is her current airscent dog. Colin has successfully certified Jackson in airscent, urban search and rescue and human remains detection. Colin and Jackson are also accomplished members of Alabama Heavy Rescue-1, a State USAR team. They successfully brought closure to multiple cases during the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that devastated Alabama. Colin and Jackson have had numerous successful finds in using both airscent and HRD. Colin has multiple dogs certified in airscent, HRD and trailing. Her HRD dogs, black labs Izzy and Jackson, have numerous finds on both land and water.
Colin has also trained multiple trailing dogs including her redboned coonhound, Liza Jane, and bloodhound, Chief. Her experience in trailing has led to her becoming an Instructor for the International Bloodhound Training Institute (INBTI), which is one of the most in demand dog training organizations in the United States. INBTI utilizes the Kocher method of training in Trailing as well as Airscent. This method is taught not just in the United States, but also in Europe and South America. In her capacity as an INBTI Instructor, she travels the country providing quality dog training in multiple disciplines.

Jeff Beckman

Jeff Beckman is an operation leader with the San Diego Mountain Rescue Team who has spent 3 of his 6 years with SDMRT as the Vice President and Training Officer.  He is qualified as a Type I Alpine rescuer and Technical Rescue Specialist.  Jeff has been closely involved with the deployment of technology in the command post, including the use of computer aided search planning and the deployment of Mission Manager and SARApp, and the development of statistical decision models.  Professionally, Jeff is an aerodynamics engineer and works developing engine nacelles for aircraft.  He has worked on the development of engine nacelles for the Boeing 787, Airbus A350, as well as various regional jets and military programs.

Bill Burke

An internationally recognized four-wheel drive trainer with comprehensive off-highway driving expertise, Bill Burke regularly provides instruction to a diverse group of clients that include Toyota Motors USA, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Defense. He has served as a recovery specialist with the 101st Airborne Division, completed a 1,200 mile off-road race in Africa, and founded the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers' Association. Burke has produced DVD training videos and has appeared in publications including Truck Trend, National Geographic, Men's Journal and AutoWeek.

Taneka Burwell-Means

Taneka Burwell-Means is a Paramedic working for American Medical Response NW as the coordinator for the River Rescue Program based in Clackamas and Multnomah County Oregon.  Her involvement in the River Rescue Program has led to a dramatic reduction in water based fatalities at local recreation areas.  The AMR River Rescue Team has received recognition from multiple local municipalities and agencies.  Taneka also works as an EMS Educator teaching a First Responder course for the local Law Enforcement agencies.

John Carlson

John Carlson has been volunteering with Wind River SAR for some twenty years, primarily in the backcountry and wilderness areas of Skamania County, Washington. His day job is as the County’s Emergency Management Coordinator.

Over the course of those years, he has spent a great deal of time and energy pursuing the “Perfect 24 Hour SAR Pack.” The dawning realization that no such thing exists led to an understanding that basic principles were more useful than specific brand names or pack types.

David Cousineau

David has been training and competing with dogs for over 30 years. He is an international judge for the UKC, AKC and the Canadian Kennel Club in hunt test competitions. In addition to his position as a Field Product Specialist for Tri-Tronics/Garmin, David is a western regional representative for the Hunting Retriever Clubs of America.

Rob Cruickshank

Rob Cruickshank has been a search volunteer with Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue for 12 years. In addition to serving as the EMS Director and serving as a Board Member, Rob is the Co-Director of the PNW Rope Support Team. He works full time as a Cadillac Service Technician and enjoys spending time camping with his wife.

Hugh Dougher

Hugh Dougher was employed as a National Park Service ranger, special agent, and Regional Chief Ranger for 36 years before retiring to Puget Sound in 2010.  During his career he gained extensive emergency response experience in a broad range of SAR related specialties and as a Type I All-Hazard incident commander.  He continues to stay active in SAR as a volunteer with two teams, is the author and lead instructor of the Search Management Systems curricula, regularly teaches FEMA’s Wide Area Search (disaster search) course nationwide, and periodically teaches State Department sponsored SAR training in the Middle East.

Carrie Friend

Carrie Friend works primarily as a Paramedic with American Medical Response NW in Multnomah County Oregon, but she has also been a member of the AMR Reach and Treat Team for several years.  She is very active with special events and has been deployed to assist with natural disasters, local search and rescue incidents, wildfire incidents, and extreme sporting races.

Robert Glaeser

Robert Glaeser has 17 years of EMS experience and joined the AMR Reach and Treat Team in 1999.  Robert is currently assigned to operations in Clackamas County Oregon, and has extensive backcountry and alpine experience to help train current and new Reach and Treat Team members.  With his backcountry and former military experience, Robert has been a vital component in developing new and more efficient training modules.  He also has extensive experience being deployed to wildfire incidents, natural disasters, and extreme sporting events.  Recreationally, Robert enjoys water sports and flying fixed wing aircraft.

Edwin Grant

Edwin Grant has over 27 years law enforcement and K9 experience. He was assigned to the largest manhunt in the US for 3 years working with all federal, state, and local agencies on the Eric Rudolph Olympic and serial bomber case. Edwin also worked K9 search and recovery for 9/11 and major hurricanes. He has worked all disciplines of scent detection dogs, Narcotics dog training for 12 years, ATF Arson and Accelerant dogs for 8 years, Trailing and Cadaver dogs for 27 years.

He is an expert witness in grave detection and analysis as well as water search and recovery. Edwin has been credited with over 100 water finds and recoveries. He has been involved in many high profile cases for the FBI, SBI, Missing and Exploited Children Center.  He was awarded the NC Governor Award for Officer of the Year, The Southeast Officer of the Year Award, The Shikar Safari Award, The Sophia Silva Award for the saving of human lives, and the FBI award for Exceptional Service in the Public Interest. Edwin has been involved in over a thousand searches and has instructed, coordinated, and trained K9s all over the United States and around the world.

Jessica Harned

Jessica began her diving career by plunging into Scientific Diving in northern California at Humboldt State University in 1999. She began teaching a myriad of dive classes in 2004 including marine sciences and scientific diving, water rescue, emergency first response for diving injuries, drysuit diving, and basic and advanced open water to a variety of ages. Jessica became a technical and heliox diver in 2006. Jessica's extensive knowledge of diving and dive equipment coupled with her experience in law enforcement as a park ranger for Humboldt County Parks brought her to her current position of Public Safety Specialist for Diving Unlimited International.
Jessica holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and a Minor in Scientific Diving and Underwater Research.

Garth Hope-Melnick

Garth has 11 years of EMS experience.  He joined the AMR Reach and Treat Team in 2006.  Garth has over 14 years of experience in search and rescue with various Explorer groups.  Garth is also an acting PIO for the Reach and Treat Team and is vital in information management and protocol development.

Jon Josephson

Jon Josephson has worked at Garmin international for 6 years first as a Regional Product Trainer and is currently the Regional Sales Manager for the Northwest. He has a degree in fire protection from Chemeketa Community College and 6 years as a fire fighter in Clark County, WA. Josephson has extensive experience in outdoor and ocean navigation with over 40,000 sea miles sailboat racing all over the world. He has worked for the Silva and Brunton compass companies as a Product Manger before transitioning to Garmin International.  Jon has experience with the Seattle SWAT team, Seattle Harbor patrol, Portland SWAT, US Coast Guard and Military units along with local Fire and Police departments on the many specific uses of Navigation and GPS systems for these agencies.

Kimberly R. Kelly

Ms. Kimberly R. Kelly is a retired reserve lieutenant and SAR specialist with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, primarily where she was assigned as Lieutenant of the Training Unit, and Search and Rescue Academy, San Diego County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team. She also served as training sergeant for the mounted, training and underwater search and recovery units, acting lieutenant for the training unit, as well as certified as a technical rescue specialist and medical unit support personnel.

Ms. Kelly continues her field work as a canine handler for Dolores, Colorado, K9 Search and Rescue (, as well as the commander and a operational field specialist with 1SRG: 1st Special Response Group (, an international, non-governmental (NGO) non-profit search and rescue team that specializes in rescue and recovery in harsh or extreme locations globally.

Ms. Kelly is the founder and executive director of Project Far From Home, a national law enforcement educational program designed to teach law enforcement and search and rescue teams about missing at risk Alzheimer's and dementia subjects.

Ms. Kelly is the author of "Project Far From Home: Understanding and Managing the Search for the Missing at Risk Alzheimer's Subject", as well as contributing author to "In Search of the Wanderer: A Workbook to Protect Your Loved One" and "Urban Search: Managing Missing Person Searches in the Urban Environment.”

Ms. Kelly is also the executive co-producer of an educational DVD series, "Plain Talk about Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's Related Dementia and Wandering", and "Search is an Emergency: Alzheimer's Disease and Wandering."  This two part series was recognized as a semi-finalist in the International Health, seniors/geriatric division "Freddy" Awards and was awarded a "Gold Remy" at the 2010 International-Houston Film Festival.

Ms. Kelly was recently honored as the St. Richard Pampuri award selection by the Saint John of God's and the Hospitaller Foundation for her compassionate work on behalf of at risk seniors and persons with Alzheimer's disease. Ms. Kelly and her work have been recognized by President George Bush for her volunteer work, education, and training; California Office of Emergency Services (OES) for SAR education and training; Placer County Sheriff's Department; New Mexico State Search and Rescue Council;  the Thousand Oaks, California, Disaster Response Teams; Oregon's Marion County Sheriff's Department; the Alzheimer's Association chapters of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho; San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, "Reserve Deputy of the Year" and Distinguished Service Medal, San Diego Union Tribune ("Making a Search a Success"); the Do Something Foundation and Blockbuster’s "Brick Award Finalist"; Channel 10 "Leadership Award"; North County Times "Woman of Merit"; Palomar Pomerado Health Systems "Unity Award Finalist", among other recognitions.

Thomas Koehler

Thomas grew up in Hawaii, swimming in the ocean and became quite comfortable in the water.  He has been in EMS since 2008, and since 2009 has been involved in AMR's River Rescue Program as an instructor in swiftwater rescue.  He also became a paramedic in 2009 and is a graduate of the newest Reach and Treat class (2012).  He loves all outdoor pursuits, and just took up snowboarding.

Luis H. Ledbetter

Before starting his career with a south Florida Law Enforcement Agency Luis worked in the private security sector in executive protection and K9 Patrol. Starting as a handler and working his way through the ranks eventually became the trainer for over 23 patrol and Special Tactics Operations Personnel. During this period he also received recognition from law enforcement agencies for assisting them in tracking dangerous fugitives with his first GSD K9 "Maxwell".

Then the lure of law enforcement came calling and he left the private sector to take a job as a Kennel Master and eventually worked his way to handling his first Narcotics Detection K9 "Boris" as a Reserve Deputy and then having the opportunity to work with the agency's first full time Bloodhound trailing dog his GSD was retired and he took this new assignment and has since grown the program larger, not only at his agency but for many others. Luis has fostered and trained trailing dogs for not only here in the United States but also for units around the world.
Luis has received numerous awards and letters but is most proud of being named the 2006 FDLE Trailing Dog Team of the Year and winning the Florida Governors Award for his K9's work in recovering a little girl (He was the runner up for this very prestigious award in 2005 for his work in trailing and locating a missing girl in a citrus farm). With over twenty years experience in working dogs, Luis has dedicated himself to providing his students with the best levels of instruction based on real world scenarios and has assembled some of the best instructors in the world as part of the TDE Cadre.

Luis is a State Certified Law Enforcement K9 Instructor, a member of the Law Enforcement Bloodhound Association (LEBA) Cadre, International Bloodhound Training Institute (INBTI) Cadre, German Bloodhound Mantrailing Association (GBMA) Cadre, and is also a Certified NRA Law Enforcement Handgun and Shotgun Instructor.

Craig McClure

Craig McClure has been active in Search and Rescue in the Pacific Northwest for 10 years as a searcher, manager, and instructor.  He worked certified K9s in two disciplines and was a founding member of NORSAR, is an MRA member, and a practicing EMT.  Residing in Central Oregon he is Reserve Deputy working seasonally for Deschutes County Sheriff, the Team Leader of the DCSSAR Incident Management Team, and a SAR Manager.  He remains active as a responder specializing in medical callouts and winter response as a skilled backcountry skier and snowmobiler.

Craig is a member of the OSSA SARAC Curriculum and Standards Committee and co-author and instructor for the Oregon Ground Search Management class.  He is also a certified instructor for Lost Person Behavior and Managing Land Search Operations.  He has instructed for SARCON, WASAR, OSSA, NPS, USFS, NC Emergency Management, and other agencies throughout the US.

He has proudly attended or instructed at every NW SARCon.


Blake Miller

Blake Miller received significant hands-on navigational training during his 20 years of service in the US Navy.  He has taught map and compass, GPS and wilderness survival classes in Central Oregon since 1998.  As a part-time faculty member at Central Oregon Community College, he currently teaches land navigation classes to Natural Resource students.  He has been an active member of the Deschutes County’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team since 2009.  He also teaches map and compass, GPS, and wilderness survival classes in several different cities throughout Oregon through the Community Colleges’ Community Education program. A navigation instructor at the Deschutes SAR Academy, Blake is also a featured speaker at the Washington SAR conference, Central Oregon Sportsman Show, various community groups, and most recently, Cabelas. His articles have been published in several national magazines and he writes a monthly navigation column for

Barry Morally

Barry Morally is a Lead Paramedic and currently works for American Medical Response NW in Clackamas County Oregon.  Barry has 18 years of EMS experience and joined the AMR Reach and Treat Team in 2001.  Barry is a Team Administrator and stalwart motivator regarding adherence to high quality standards.  Barry is also an outdoor enthusiast, with 11 years of alpine experience to result in 22 successful summit bids of Mt. Hood.

Kerry Noland

Kerry Noland is a Lead Paramedic and currently works for American Medical Response NW in Clackamas County Oregon.  He has17 years of EMS experience and joined the AMR Reach and Treat Team in 2001.  Kerry is a Team Administrator and Training Academy Coordinator for both new recruits and current members of the Reach and Treat Team.  Kerry also has extensive SAR experience with the National Park Service and brings that experience to the Reach and Treat Team to increase the overall safety and success of the team.

Terry Nowacki

Terry Nowacki's experience in search, rescue, and recovery is well diversified. He is one of the founding members, directors, and training officers for the Minnesota Marshall County Mounted Sheriff's Posse (100+ membership SAR group). He has been actively involved in operations, planning, and logistics on major searches across a two state area. While working under law enforcement on searches, Terry's operations management duties have included the following: Section Chief, Division Supervisor, and Task Force/Strike Team Leadership. The search tactics that he has personally been involved in include: Foot, Mounted, K-9, and Equine Scent Detection. Terry has had 53 continuous years of riding, competitive showing, or professional training. He is nationally known for his work in equine scent detection, and his books on this subject have been sold worldwide. Terry owns and operates an equine training center in Minnesota. He also stays busy putting on clinics about scent detection and horsemanship.

Siggeir Pálsson

Siggeir has been volunteering for rescue teams since 1990. He is cross trained in high angle rescue, First aid, USAR and as a 4x4 driver.  He is currently the commander on both the all-weather lifeboat and the rigid inflatable boat, having received his training from the RNLI in UK in lifeboat handling.  Siggeir is also a member on ICE-SAR international USAR team.
Since Iceland has the biggest international airport and the busiest highway in his backyard, their team concentrates heavily in mass casualty and we have the only specialized mobile mass casualty unit in Iceland.  In the summer, Siggeir has volunteered patrolling in the highlands of Iceland as the first responder as well as in the capacity of accident prevention, as he says there are a lot of tourists that can easily get in trouble in their unbridged rivers and ever-changing weather in Iceland.

Joe Rabinowitz

Joe Rabinowitz is a Lead Paramedic and currently works for American Medical Response NW in Clackamas County Oregon on the Reach and Treat Team.  He has 13 years EMS experience and joined the Reach and Treat Team in 2009.  Joe has quickly been gaining the necessary skills and experience to be one of the most reliable members and leaders of the team.  Joe has been extensively involved in outdoor recreation for many years and considers himself an amateur botanist.  He is quickly able to answer most botanical questions as they arise during trainings or missions.

Gene Ralston

Gene Ralston and his wife Sandy are semi-retired environmental scientists and consultants specializing in water related environmental issues.  Gene and Sandy’s professional consulting focuses on water quality and sediment sampling, hydrographic surveys, and fish and aquatic organism investigations.  Since late 2000, he and Sandy have volunteered the use of their boats, side scan sonar, and an ROV to search for and recover drowning victims and other objects underwater. Together they have conducted searches all over the United States and Canada and have found the remains of 83 people in the last twelve years. Gene and Sandy also provide training and consultation in the use of side scan sonar and ROV's. The Ralston's primarily use their 23 foot boat equipped with a variable speed remote controlled hoist to deploy their side scan and ROV. They have conducted searches as deep as 850 feet. They travel extensively, towing their boat with their motor home in which they prefer to stay on location while conducting a search.  Their website, including pictures of their rig, is located here.


Michelle Renault

Michelle is a 911 dispatcher for Hood River County. She has been employed at the agency for 15 years. Michelle is a Certified 911 telecommunicator, EMD telecommunicator and FTEP instructor through DPSST. She is also an EMT-B and BLS Evaluator through the State of Washington, an American Heart BLS Instructor and has her Associates Degree in Criminal Justice.  Michelle lives in the Columbia River Gorge with her husband Mike.  In their spare time they volunteer for Klickitat County Fire District #3.  Michelle enjoys teaching the communication classes and CPR/First Aid with the local fire departments, law enforcement and the 911 center.

Dick Rice

Dick Rice is owner/operator of Alaska Rescue and an instructor trainer with Rescue 3.  He works full time providing hands-on training for all levels of swiftwater, technical rope rescue, confined space, and rescue boat operator training.  

Jerry Richert

Jerry Richert is a 15 year veteran of the Indianapolis Fire Department.  He is the dive team quartermaster and a dive team trainer.  He is also a corporate trainer for Dive Rescue International traveling the United States and Canada teaching public safety diving, swift water rescue, top water rescue and other disciplines to police/fire agencies.

Marcel Rodriguez

Marcel Rodriguez is a volunteer Search & Rescue Team Member with Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue in Portland, Oregon.  Marcel currently holds qualifications as an EMT-B, WFR, Rope Rescue Technician, and Swiftwater Rescue Technician.  Marcel is also a trainer for Skedco, Inc., makers of the Sked rescue stretcher.  When not engaged in teaching and SAR activities, Marcel works in Mergers & Acquisitions for an international software company.

Árni Freyr Rúnarsson

Has been volunteering in rescue for 8 years, he is experienced 4x4 and ATV driver and a crew member in lifeboat. He is trained in swift water from rescue 3 and loves fast moving water.

Patrick Sherman

Patrick Sherman is the public face of the Roswell Flight Test Crew. Known as “Lucidity,” he is responsible for building the partnerships that have allowed the team to fly with the public safety community, hot air balloonists, research scientists and many other groups and organizations. Currently working in strategic communications for a regional public safety agency, he has prior experience as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. A master scuba instructor and licensed private pilot, he holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Southern California in sociology and English, as well as an MBA from Willamette University.

Ingrid Skoog

Ingrid Skoog MS, RD, CSSSD is a Registered Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist and is Board Certified as an Expert in Sports Nutrition.  For over 15 years she has assisted clients, students, and employers through her specialized knowledge in the pivotal role of nutrition in mental and physical performance.   Ms. Skoog is the current leader and Chair for the dietetics practice group, SCAN, whose 7000 members specialize in Sports Nutrition, Wellness, Cardiovascular Health and Disordered Eating/Eating Disorder.  She has over 10 years experience in Collegiate Athletics and is currently a faculty member at Oregon State University.  She and her daughter live in Eugene Oregon.  

Corey Stone

Corey has been a SAR field team member for 21 years and a SAR Coordinator with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years.  He has been instructing various SAR related skills for over a decade with a specialization in land navigation; high and low angle rope access and rope rescue, and managing land search operations.   Corey has taught land navigation classed to SAR organizations, narcotics enforcement, SWAT teams, fire command, wild land fire personnel and the public.  He has been an instructor at several MLSO courses in Oregon and a speaker at NW SARCon for several years.

CJ Svela

CJ Svela is a Lead Paramedic and currently works for American Medical Response NW in Clackamas County Oregon.  He has 11 years experience in EMS and joined the AMR RAT Team in 2006.  CJ is active as a Reach and Treat Team Field Training Officer and an avid skier who helps train everyone in the snow sciences.  CJ also assists the local ski resorts as an avalanche instructor and forecaster.

Nate Thompson

Nate Thompson works for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office as a Marine Patrol Deputy.  He also worked as a Search and Rescue Coordinator for over 7 years.  He is an instructor in jet boat operations, white water drift boat operations, and kayaking.  He has certifications as a Swift Water Rescue Technician and an Emergency Medical First Responder.  He is currently a member of a type 1 FEMA swiftwater flood rescue team.

Tygh Thompson

Tygh Thompson has been involved with Search and Rescue in Oregon for more than 40 years.  He spent 33 years with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office where he was the SAR program manager for 20 years.  Thompson retired as a Sergeant in 2010.  He has experience as a searcher as well as a mission and SAR program manager. He is a past president of the OSSA SAR council and has contributed to several revisions of the Oregon SAR standards. He has assisted in the development of the "Ground Search Operations Course" and has been a lead instructor in “Managing Search Operations” course for more than 20 years. Tygh has developed a number of SAR training programs for Oregon and has been a presenter at each Northwest SARCon.

Tygh is currently a volunteer member of Mountain Wave Search & Rescue.


Adam Tingey

Adam has served as an Air Force Pararescueman since 2003.  Over the past several years he’s deployed as both a team member and team leader while conducting Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations in Afghanistan.  He's been assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron and the 304th Rescue Squadron.  He is currently a patrol deputy with Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and resides in Damascus, Oregon.


Al Tong

Al Tong is an active ground search volunteer with Pacific Northwest Search & Rescue.  During the past 6 years, he has served on the team’s board of directors, training committee and certified as a technical rigger.  Al’s teaching philosophy focuses on training core fundamentals, building repeatable skills and instilling a problem solving mindset. High skill and low tech beats low skill and high tech every time!


Nici Vance

Dr. Nici Vance is the state Forensic Anthropologist for the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office in Clackamas, Oregon.  Dr. Vance is also a Forensic Scientist, Crime Scene Analyst and Advanced Bloodstain Pattern analyst for the Oregon State Police Forensic Lab, where she has worked for 18 years.  Dr. Vance provides assistance and training for all Oregon law enforcement agencies in the successful recovery of scattered and buried human skeletal remains, in addition to offering a hands-on approach to determining human vs. non-human skeletal anatomy.

Dr. Vance has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Montana, a master’s degree in Anthropology from Portland State University and a Ph.D. in Anatomy from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) School of Medicine.

Andrew Volokitin

Andy Volokitin is a member of Mountain Wave Search & Rescue, Inc., has been active in SAR for over 5 years and is a former member of San Mateo County SAR in California. While working at County of San Mateo CARE (Clerk-Assessor-Recorder-Elections Office), Andy studied GIS at Foothill College, beginning in 2007.  He is the co-founder of Geo-CEG, Inc., an Oregon non-profit dedicated to assisting small communities & non-profits develop GIS infrastructure.  Andy has a background in Mechanical Engineering, Amateur Radio, Horticulture, is a OSU Master Gardener, and a member of ORURISA and PDX-OSGEO.


Bob Welch

Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch has twice been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists as best in the nation, and he's won the "best writing" category in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's contest the last two years. He is the author of 15 books, the latest of which include "Cascade Summer: My Adventure on Oregon's Pacific Crest Trail," and "Resolve: From WWII Bataan, the Epic Story of a Soldier, a Flag, and a Promise Kept." A national speaker, Welch has appeared on “Good Morning America” and spoken at the Massachusetts Statehouse. He is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Oregon and the founder of the Beachside Writers Workshop.

Travis Withers

 Travis Withers has worked at Garmin for almost 3 years first as Marine Product Support and recently transitioned to the Regional Product Trainer roll for the Coastal Northwest. Prior to Garmin Travis served in the United States Marine Corps as a 2M technician in San Diego, Pensacola, Norfolk, and one tour to Afghanistan. Travis moved to Oregon 4 years ago from Virginia and has embraced the outdoors with activities such as backpacking, camping, hunting, and fishing the local rivers.

Rob Wurpes

Currently the Public Information Officer for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Robert has been part of the water rescue teams since 2003 and worked as a Marine Patrol Officer for 5 years. As a supervisor for the Dive team he holds his Master certification in SCUBA. He is also instructor rated in Water Safety and Survival, jet boat operations, and drift boat operations. He has certifications as a Swift Water Rescue Technician and EMT-B. He is currently a member of a type 1 FEMA swiftwater flood rescue team.

Brian Zvaigzne

Brian Zvaigzne is the technical expert responsible for designing, building and maintaining the multirotor aircraft used by the Roswell Flight Test Crew to capture aerial imagery. He has a lifetime of experience with radio-controlled vehicles, as well as computers and other electronic systems. Known to Roswell Flight Test Crew fans as “Techinstein,” Brian’s previous media experience includes eight years on broadcast radio in the Portland metropolitan area as the co-host of a computer help call-in show. Having studied electronics at Delta College in Michigan, he currently owns an information technology business based in Beaverton, Oregon.