The Field Team includes outdoor experts with an array of professional and personal experience. Wilderness specialists bring expertise in safety, compassion for struggling youth, enthusiasm for utilizing the outdoors as a catalyst for positive change, and are the core of the team. They frequently bring creative use of natural resources to individualized interventions.

Ben Koch MSc

Operations Director

Ben’s interest in working and teaching outdoors began while studying at the the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his undergraduate years, he became involved with the Hoofers Outing club and spent his summers in the outdoors, first working with young kids at local summer camps and then leading international trips for high schoolers in Fiji, Switzerland and Tanzania. After graduating with a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering, he decided to follow his passion for working with kids in the outdoors full-time, working as an outdoor education instructor for school programs and then returning to school to get a MSc in Outdoor Education, as well as getting certified as a Wilderness First Responder. Now, Ben wants to use his knowledge and experiences to help others reconnect to nature and better understand our dependence on the world around us. In his free time, Ben is an avid backpacker who has hiked the entire west coast of Scotland, the Haute route in Switzerland, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. He also enjoys other outdoor pursuits, including skiing, kayaking and climbing, and when the weather turns ugly, he also loves to cook, play board games with friends, or read a good book by a fire.

David Puhl B.S.

Program Director

David studied Wildlife Ecology and German at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. After graduating David spent two years in West Africa with Peace Corps Senegal; as an Environmental Education volunteer he spent much of his time working with local teachers on techniques to adjust their lesson plans to make subjects more applicable to the students’ lives. He also helped with the annual regional youth leadership camp, and in his second year acted as the lead coordinator and liaison between Peace Corps and local volunteers on the project. David enjoys spending time in nature and has a passion for encouraging that in others. In the winter cross country skiing is one of his favorite ways to spend time outdoors, David is also trying to find more time to climb and enjoys spending time on his bicycles when possible.

Emily Fritz B.S., M.S., CTRS

Experiential Services Director

Emily is an Iowa native that now calls the north woods of Wisconsin home. As an undergrad, Emily double majored in exercise science and human performance and fitness, then went on to pursue her masters in recreation, park and tourism administration with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation. Emily fell in love with working outside during graduate school, while she managed a high ropes course and climbing tower. Emily's graduate course work also led her on a variety of other adventures including backpacking and sea kayaking. After completing her internship in a hospital setting at an inpatient psychiatric unit, Emily knew she needed to get back outside. New Vision Wilderness was the perfect fit for working with the population she loved and being outside. Emily is now a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and is excited to share her knowledge with the kids in the woods. In her free time, Emily enjoys reading, rock climbing, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Ben Locker

Field Director

Ben grew up in the Colorado mountains and developed a love for the outdoors at an early age. Ben also spent several years studying abroad in Canada, Argentina, and the Middle East. In these travels, Ben developed a love of culture, language, and food. Ben began working as a field guide in wilderness therapy in 2009. Since then, Ben has held multiple jobs in both field and operations for several wilderness therapy and outdoor education companies. Highlights include leading multiple 30-day backcountry trips for both Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School, and becoming an AMGA climbing guide. When not working Ben enjoys fishing, cooking, and adventuring with his wife and black lab Opie.

Winona Hapgood B.S.

Academic and Adventure Education Specialist

Winona grew up camping and hiking in Maine. She graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor of science in Exercise Physiology and a bachelor of arts in Hispanic Studies. During college she was a member of the club field hockey team and participated in a white water kayaking trip with the university adventure club. She worked as a Resident Advisor for three semesters before taking a semester abroad in Ecuador to improve her Spanish speaking skills. While in Ecuador she joined the mountaineering class and took bi-weekly backpacking trips where she experienced the mountains and jungles of the country as well as the Galapagos Islands. As a student she worked with kids as a mentor in a research program that was designed to show that a one-on-one mentoring program increased weight loss in overweight adolescents. She is excited to work for New Vision Wilderness because it combines her passion for the outdoors and her desire to help people. During her free time she enjoys skiing, running, hiking, and reading.

Alex “AJ” McAuliffe

Field Specialist

Alex attended both UW Platteville and UW Madison before starting with NVW, then spent a year as a Field Guide prior to becoming a Specialist. He has a passion for working with youth and introducing his students to the beauty of the northwoods. In his free-time, he enjoys canoeing on the Flambeau, cooking gourmet, and writing haiku, but his greatest interest of all is exploring nature.

Lauren Lingenfelter B.A.

Field Specialist

Lauren is from Hudson, WI where she grew up spending time exploring the many forests and rivers in the area. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. In college she spent a semester studying abroad in Chile where she spent majority of her free time hiking and camping in the diverse landscapes. Lauren has a passion for the outdoors and enjoys being able to share this love with others. When she’s not in the woods, you can find her playing ultimate frisbee, spending time on the water, and hanging out with family and friends.

Joe Ingall, B.A.

Field Specialist

Joe grew up in Michigan and has been going camping with his family as long as he can remember. In more recent years, Joe learned that he prefers living in the woods to life in the city and strives to share this passion with everyone he meets. Joe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Michigan State University and feels incredibly fortunate to be able to apply the knowledge from his education in the woods. He owns being goofy and hopes that this mindset can help everyone around him to be the most themselves that they can be. Joe dreams of climbing mountains around the world but always feels at home hiking through the woods. When he is not in the Northwoods, he can be found mountain biking, listening to a variety of records, sailing, and spending time with his family.

Abby Barten, B.S.

Logistics Manager

Abby graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Animal Ecology and a minor in Forestry. Although not an Iowa native, Abby has always found the Northwoods to be home. During college, she spent summers in Northern Minnesota teaching environmental education and leading backpacking trips at summer camp. After graduating, she continued working in outdoor education at a nature center and later for the Minnesota DNR. Abby has always had an interest and passion for the outdoors and is always excited to share it with others. Abby is grateful for the opportunity to continue working with students in an outdoor setting at New Vision Wilderness. When she's not in the woods she enjoys hiking, kayaking, traveling, drinking coffee/tea, reading and spending time with family and friends.

Eric Cychosz B.A.

Logistics Coordinator

Eric holds a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. While at UWP, Eric played on their club hockey team in the ACHA. Eric grew up in the small town of Custer, WI where he found his love for the outdoors. While growing up he spent much of his time in the outdoors. During his last year or two at UWP, Eric found a passion for wanting to help others through social work and spent a majority of his schooling focused on the social sciences. In his free time, Eric enjoys hunting, fishing, coaching youth hockey, canoeing, backpacking, reading, and spending time with his family.


Field Mentor

Maggie grew up outside of the city of Milwaukee. Being raised in an Urban environment gave her a thirst to find time to spend outdoors in the woods. She met this need with family summers spent camping and involving herself in scouting camp-outs. Her love of the environment inspired her schooling in architecture in Madison WI, because she had the hope of bringing green architecture to the forefront of our world today, with the root hope of finding ways to help heal this planet. After she was done with her schooling she attended Earthship Biotecture academy in Taos NM, a school that educates it's students in the innovation of how to design totally off-grid self sustaining homes. She worked in architecture from 2016-2018 and realized the healing this world needs is much deeper than the buildings. As an avid permaculturalist, both ecologically and primarily emotionally, she explored ways to work with the natural systems of the Earth to facilitate deeper healing. She did this through her yoga certification (200-YTT) and mindfulness practices and volunteering at a Scout camp. It was in this exploration that it became apparent to her that the healing she is gifted in is social and emotional nature. This realization inspires her work at New Vision Wilderness (NVW) and she genuinely enjoys bringing all of the pieces that have brought to NVW to share with students in the field. She finds her work deeply gratifying and feels deeply fortunate for her opportunity to be part of the team at NVW.

Drew, B.A.

Field Mentor

Drew grew up in Northwest Minneapolis and has loved the outdoors for as long as he can remember. Growing up in the “land of the lakes” instilled in Drew a sense of adventure and a love of being near the water. Drew received his bachelors degree in business administration and began working in a logistics position at a shipping company which lacked adventure and meaning that Drew craved. Drew was looking for a way to reconnect with his love of adventure and the outdoors which led him to spending some time abroad. When his time abroad ended, Drew was looking to integrate these experiences into a purpose driven and meaningful career which is what led him to New Vision Wilderness. Drew enjoys his connections to the students and meaningful work he is able to do set in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin. In his free time, Drew enjoys exploring and engaging in his community, caring for plants and continuing to learn and grow.

Kristina, B.A.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Kristina grew up a short walk from the dune-filled beaches of West Michigan. She graduated with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Ethnic Studies from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, where she was an active member of the Outdoor Recreation Club and her environmental co-op. After graduation, Kristina moved west to Seattle, where she continued to develop her technical outdoor skills as a guide and as a Wilderness First responder. With experience in places as remote as Alaska and as urban as Chicago, Kristina has worked with kids from all walks of life. Using her knowledge and experience as a guide and climbing coach, Kristina hopes to help provide a safe and encouraging space for others to discover what they love about the outdoors. Kristina hopes to earn her Wilderness EMT and learn how to ski within the year! In her free time, she’s probably climbing, hanging out with her dog, Toad, or eating cheese curds.

Beatriz, B.S.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Beatriz has grown up and lived in Florida up until now. She has experience working as a camp counselor, lifeguard, and swim instructor. She loves learning about what makes each of us different and how our experiences shape the way we behave and interact. Her jobs in the past encouraged her to continue her education so she could work with children in a professional setting. She graduated from Florida State with a B.S. in Family and Child Science and Psychology and gained experience in research and crisis counseling. In her free time, she enjoys adventuring through swimming, hiking, kayaking, rollerblading, and exploring sink holes. Her hopes are to merge her love of the outdoors and psychology to benefit the students here at New Vision in a unique setting!

Frank, B.A.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Frank has a B.A. in psychology and is a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He has always found purpose in connecting with others. Whether it be volunteering for an after school tutoring program, rafting in Idaho, or backpacking in Scandinavia. Frank will tell you that he has never experienced a more peaceful feeling than kayaking across a lake as smooth as glass. Yet the water doesn’t always need to be calm, the sense of accomplishment navigating choppy waters sea-kayaking is something he will never forget. The outdoors has taught him many lessons that transfer into everyday life. Upon graduation with his B.A from Colorado State University, he began to look forward as he considered the next step towards a meaningful career. He knew he needed to be helping people and bonus points if the position was outdoors. It all came together when Frank met some New Vision employees at his W.F.R. certification course in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Frank enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking, exercising, reading, and sitting around a campfire with his friends. A good movie is always appreciated as well. He views his participation in a therapeutic experience as an extraordinary privilege

Elaina, B.S.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Elaina grew up in Northeast Ohio, where her family instilled in her a love for the outdoors through camping, hiking in the national park they live nearby and encouraging her to explore her surroundings. She continued her passion for the outdoors through an experiential outdoor leadership program at college while pursuing a Social work degree and minor in psychology. During college, she helped facilitate and participate in adventure trips with her fellow classmates to create meaningful experiences in the outdoors. Over the summers, she worked at a camp and fell in love with providing an environment for youth to flourish, be valued and cared for. From rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, to hiking in the Rockies, to spending summers with youth, Elaina loves being able to combine the outdoors with her passion to invest in students at New Vision Wilderness.
In her free time, Elaina enjoys rock climbing with friends, trying out different kinds of food, capturing nature through her camera, snowboarding in the winter, trail running and being with her family.

Gabby, B.S.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Gabby graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Platteville with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. During her undergraduate studies, she focused on incorporating ecology, geography, and environmental science into her tutoring, teaching, and research. Gabby spent most of her schooling traveling and studying culture, biological processes, and landforms throughout the US. She worked as a campus sustainability assistant and as a tutor and a mentor in biology and geography.

She grew up playing with her siblings and her neighbors in the woods and waters throughout Wisconsin. She discovered the importance of the connection that nature creates within oneself and within a community. She began to hold tutoring sessions outdoors and advocated for bringing the outdoors in by educating staff and students about composting in classrooms and about the influence that the earth holds on us.

Her work with youth in STEM education events and environmental summer camps have only ignited her passion to guide others towards the health benefits of the earth.

Every day at New Vision Wilderness she gets to witness the power of nature’s effects on students, families, and her coworkers. Sharing the therapeutic power of the outdoors with others is a humbling experience that she is grateful to be a part of.
Outside of work she finds joy in practicing yoga, gardening, reading, drinking tea, skiing, and sharing time with her dear family and close friends.

Meredith, B.S.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Meredith grew up in the beautiful rolling hills of rural central Pennsylvania, where she couldn’t help but develop a love and appreciation for nature. When Meredith was 10 years old, her family moved to southeast Alaska to spend a year working at a remote summer camp. Not only were the mountains and wildlife stunning, Meredith was deeply impacted by seeing firsthand how a diverse community of people could develop such close friendships by sharing an experience in the outdoors. After high school, Meredith sought to expand her knowledge of the world experientially. She participated in a program that allowed her to spend time living and studying in northern Israel. She also spent a year interning with a non-profit, providing after school care for inner city youth. One of the most impactful experiences for Meredith was working as an Adventure Guide in West Virginia, where she got to experience everything from whitewater rafting to rock climbing and wild caving. It became undeniably evident to Meredith that facing challenges in nature can be a powerful parallel lesson to help us face challenges in our daily lives. Meredith taught outdoor education for two seasons before returning to college to complete her degree at Slippery Rock University in Physical Activity and Fitness Management, with a minor in Outdoor Adventure Fitness. She spent her internship working as a Program Director for an adventure based summer camp in West Virginia. Meredith loved helping the staff face and overcome challenges, seeing the campers learn and grow, and getting to step in and lead everything from overnight backpacking trips to paddle sports to assisting in outdoor climbing. For the past two years, Meredith has worked at teambuilding and high adventure centers, working with at risk youth for one year, and a variety of day groups her second year. Meredith
is so excited to have the opportunity to help students learn more about themselves and grow as they experience the outdoors. When not in the wilderness, Meredith can usually be found reading and drinking coffee, connecting with friends and family, going for a run, or creating a healthy culinary dish.

Maddie, B.A.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Maddie feels most alive when she is connecting with others, learning through literature, and laughing. Her passion for learning, and desire to empower young people drove her to study Secondary Education, English, and History at Grand Valley State University. She has worked with adolescents in a variety of settings for the last 7 years, including both urban and rural education, summer schools, community outreach and activism, teen programming for a supported-housing community, and finally as a high school English teacher in her home state of Michigan since 2017. During her summers and weekends, Maddie sought the adventure and peace of the outdoors–from the dunes of her home state, to the canyons of Utah, to the peaks of Washingston’s mountains. Her experiences in the outdoors have been an integral part of her personal life, especially as a teenager, so when she learned about wilderness therapy, she was inspired. Maddie sees her goals as a field guide similarly to her goals as an educator: young people deserve to feel heard, valued, and empowered. Sometimes this happens in the classroom, and sometimes it happens in the woods. Maddie fully believes in the power of wilderness therapy and is honored to spend this new chapter of her career in the woods with NVW students–and maybe talking about books still, just a little.

Alan, MBA

Wilderness Field Instructor

Alan brings considerable depth of experience to New Vision Wilderness.
He founded Powers Young & Company in 2000 to provide Arizona’s nonprofit organizations with capital development planning, management, and counsel. More than 20 years later, the firm remains Arizona’s leading fundraising management firm with over 75 completed projects! He recently returned from Ukraine where he represented the United States as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His three-year assignment there involved advancing the capacity of local government to address the needs of citizens. For his service, he was awarded the distinguished “Order of the Mayor”, a recognition held by few others.
Alan's career began in the Wisconsin Northwoods where he led Scout groups on backpacking and canoeing trips. He went on to work professionally for the Boy Scouts of America and directed a camp in San Diego County as well as corporate and special event fundraising in Los Angeles. He is certified as a camp director by the American Camp Association. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in 1989.
He is a past president of the Pacific Crest Trail Association and has served on the board of Florence Crittenton Services of Arizona. When not engaged in community development, Alan is a world-class adventurer. He walked the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border in one continuous trip. He also sailed his ketch across the Pacific Ocean to Easter Island and on to New Zealand before travelling by train aboard the Trans-Mongolian Express from Beijing, China to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Emily, B.S.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Emily is an Illinois native that has always had a love for the outdoors. She graduated from the University of St. Francis with a degree in Recreation and Sport Management with a concentration in Outdoor Recreation and a minor in Leadership Studies. However, Emily’s love for the outside world started way before her college years. Emily fell in love with the outdoors at a young age with her three younger brothers through Scouting. Emily has worked at various Boy Scout camps including Rainbow Scout Reservation and Philmont Scout Ranch in which she has guided hundreds of individuals on backpacking expeditions and other outdoor experiences. During college, Emily played on the university soccer team and was involved with the Recreation Club on campus participating in various outdoor activities like backpacking in Escalante, Utah for spring break. She is currently in her internship semester at New Vision Wilderness and is very excited to share her knowledge and love of the outdoors and to begin making a difference in the youth’s lives.

Lauren “Ren”, B.S.

Wilderness Field Instructor

Lauren comes from the North Star State, Minnesota. Her deep love and appreciation for nature comes from volunteering at the nature center three blocks from the house she grew up in, which later led to a full-time job as an educator. She headed animal outreach programs and worked as a naturalist to educate children about the environment and teach them outdoor skills. These experiences led her to major in Wildlife Ecology, with a focus in education, at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. She joined several clubs, which provided her the opportunity to go on frequent camping and backpacking trips. After graduating, she became an educator at the Como Zoo and Conservatory and a naturalist at Kroening Interpretive Center in Minneapolis, which gave her the chance to work with people of all ages and cultures and enabled her to see things from a variety of different perspectives. Outside of work you can find her frolicking through the woods, rock climbing, hiking, running, trudging through swamps to find frogs, or cross country skiing.

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