Meet Our Tales of a Mountain Mama Team for 2023!
Every time we do a team call, we are completely overrun by AMAZING applicants. I am blown away, humbled, and forced to do the hardest part of my job – just choose a few of you!
But the reality is that YOU are the TMM Team. Each one of you that read, comment, share and get outside with your family. Thank you to each one of you for being here.
Without further adieu, I am so pleased to announce my dynamic team that you will be seeing on the site this year!
Newest Team Members:
Amanda Schmidt – Ohio
Amanda, her husband, Josh, and their children, Colby and Lua, live in Oberlin, OH where Amanda is a Geosciences professor at Oberlin College. Amanda’s parents live in New Hampshire and so they spend a lot of time there as well. They take advantage of homeschooling to maximize outdoors time for everyone.
Amanda grew up in Hong Kong and spent summers in New Hampshire, where she found her love for nature. Pursuing a PhD in geosciences to study why Earth looks the way it does and how people change those processes was a natural outgrowth of her love for being outside.
Their outdoor sports sort of follow seasons: the winter they love to ski, in the fall they race cyclocross, in the spring they ride bikes on day trips, and in the summer they rock climb, bike tour, take overnight canoe trips, and backpack.
Cecelia Romanyshyn – Oregon
Cece Romanyshyn is a Colorado native currently living in Baker City, Oregon with her husband and two sons. She grew up camping and skiing with her family, and kept adventuring through adulthood. She has enjoyed camping, hiking, skiing, and boating in the western United States, hiking in Ecuador, DIY safaris in East Africa, boating on the rivers of Southeast Asia, and exploring nature and culture during Peace Corps service in Mozambique.
She loves connecting with her little family on all sorts of adventures from daily walks and river play to ski days to camping road trips, boating, and hut trips. With the confidence, joy, and well-being brought about in these spaces, time outside together has become a parenting power tool for her.
Chloë Eelen – Switzerland
Chloë is originally from Belgium. After having lived and worked in different places around the world she now lives in Davos, Switzerland with her partner and their two children. Their 4 year old daughter Lua is super keen to learn all kinds of outdoor sports. Ayo is only 8 months old and already loves the outdoors just as much as the rest of the family.
She has a background in speech and language therapy and audiology and is now mostly home with the kids and helping out in the ski school run by her husband.
As a family they love skiing, cross-country skiing, playing outside year round, in the mountains or by the sea, traveling Europe by van to surf and climb. They also love snorkeling, paddle boarding, biking and anything outdoors really.
Elaine Mantinan – South Korea
Elaine Mantinan is a Michigan native who loves to adventure outdoors all over the globe and tries to inspire others to do the same. She is currently based in Seoul, South Korea, with her husband and two kids, Aurelia (7) and Nico (5).
Elaine has been having lots of fun discovering new places and ways to do her favorite outdoor activities while living in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world. She loves hiking, biking and camping but is always up for trying any kind of outdoor activity, especially if there is a picnic involved.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @adventurousmantinans
Jamie Melton – Utah
Jamie lives in Ogden, Utah with her husband Jonathan and their little boy, Peter. As a family, they go outdoors to burn off energy, learn about nature, relax, and just enjoy adventures! In the winter, they alpine and backcountry ski, and in the summer they mountain bike, camp, and hike together.
Jamie is a former high school biology teacher (but still current nerd) who now stays at home with Peter and loves to help her friends take their little ones on their own outside adventures.
Jen Levin – Minnesota
Jen Levin, mama of six, lives in St Paul Minnesota. Raised in the north woods of Michigan, she’s figuring out how to nurture outdoor kids in an urban location. She’ll drive the extra miles for a clean lake and is happiest on, in, or near the water. Her family loves camping, swimming, canoeing, backpacking, and harvesting maple syrup at their family farm.
Jess Rhyner – Minnesota
Jess grew up in Iowa and has happily called the Twin Cities in Minnesota home for almost 18 years. Jess, her husband Eric, and kids Gabe (age 7) and Emma (age 5) enjoy their city’s many lakes, biking, hiking and skiing trails. Her winter love is cross-country skiing and in the warm months her favorite backyard hobby is gardening.
As often as possible, Jess and her husband get their kids out to explore the region’s many beautiful places and daily they try to enjoy their backyard and all of the urban trails and lakes. She will happily talk about growing food, getting kids outside and great gear anytime.
Kara Swanson – Washington
Kara lives in Washington state with her husband and 3 kids. She works part-time as a dental hygienist and homeschools the busy crew. They love getting outside as a family hiking, biking, and camping. Their favorite trips have been camping trips in the National Parks. She is passionate about teaching her kids and others around her how to safely adventure outside while respecting nature and fully enjoying this beautiful planet!
Kristine Clay – Ecuador
Kristine is a freelance writer and herbalist. She lives on a rural, off-grid homestead in the Andean mountains with her partner and their 2 children. She loves going for family hikes in the eco-sanctuary they steward near Podocarpus National Park. When she’s not writing or hiking, you can find her chasing chickens, crafting botanical concoctions, making nourishing foods for her family, or tending their gardens.
Shayna Barnhill – Idaho
I’m Shayna, mom, midwife and wife with an extraordinary amount of hobbies. Big adventures or mini ones close to home I’m game for it all. Our favorite places to be, backpacking with our goats or skiing in power. I’ll be the person always convincing you to just go do the thing!
Whitney Donaldson – Arizona
Whitney, originally from northern Virginia, is currently living in Flagstaff, Arizona, (with solid stints in Paris, France and Los Angeles in between). Whitney, her husband and two kids can often be found outside, taking advantage of what mountain life has to offer.
Most weekends, they embark on adventures big and small – hiking, biking, camping, and snowboarding happen often. Outside of that, you can typically find her in the kitchen baking goodies or working for her brand strategy clients.
Current (and Awesome) Team Members:
Anna Kerlee – Washington
Anna is a proud Washingtonian living in the Cascade mountain range with her park ranger husband and their three kids. Their family is lucky enough to live in a ranger house in a state park and have lots of access to the outdoors year round.
When not spending time outside with her family, she is an 8th grade science and language arts teacher with a goal of getting her students outside as much as possible. Anna is expecting her fourth child in early March and is on a mission to find the best gear for the tiniest of explorers.
Cait Carroll – North Carolina
Cait currently lives in Austin, TX with her partner and three kids (Atticus, 12; Tallulah, 9; and Clementine, 3). Over the past decade, they have floated between Austin, TX; Madison, WI; and Uppsala, Sweden, and they can’t seem to settle on one place to stay!
She loves any and all outdoor activities: she is especially adept at biking, hiking, swimming and car-camping, while dabbling in snow sports, paddling, and backpacking. She is currently finishing up a PhD in Sociology with an emphasis on Gender and Sexuality, and she loves to talk all things feminism, gardening, tiny living, and the Danish political drama Borgen.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @caitpc
Ginny Galbreth – Montana
Ginny has spent her career focused on getting people outside; working with the Park Service, Forest Service, Student Conservation Association and Keystone Science School, as well as spending a decade in the outdoor retail industry.
She practices what she preaches, so can usually be found outside: downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, riding her dual-sport motorcycle, running, and SUPing in the summer.
Raised in Virginia, she realized early on that her heart was in the mountains. She has lived in Colorado and Washington, and currently resides in Montana with her husband, 4-year old son, and their rescued cattle dog.
Jackie Semmens – Montana
Jackie is a mom of three and a part time policy analyst and writer in Helena, MT. She has two boys – ages seven and nine, and four year old girl. Originally from the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, she is gradually getting used to Rocky Mountain winters. She co-leads a Hike it Baby Branch.
Her family loves hiking, fishing, cross country skiing and just hanging out by a river whenever they can. Jackie (and her kids) also loves birding, and is passionate about teaching kids about nature and their local environment. When they’re stuck indoors, she is probably either reading or baking (or catching up on laundry).
Jami Rogers – Wisconsin
Jami and her husband Greg were born and raised in lower Michigan, but now call Appleton, WI home. They have two little girls, Kylie and Nora, and two Springer Spaniels, Reece and Lucie.
They love getting out as a family camping, hiking, hunting, running, biking, and just playing outside. Jami and her family love spending free time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula looking for adventure or headed to the mountains whenever they can.
Jami mostly stays home with her girls but also works part-time as an Athletic Trainer and a Personal Trainer. She also enjoys helping other families get outside as one of the Branch Ambassadors for her local Hike it Baby branch.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @littleadventuremama
Jen Gardner – Colorado
Jen Gardner is a coach, educator and yoga teacher. When not working with special needs youth, she enjoys adventuring with her girls, husband and super cool cat named Tom. Her hope is to blend her passion for preservation with education and responsible recreation.
Getting our kids outside everyday is worth the effort. That said, dependable gear makes all the difference especially adventuring with children, thus reviewing gear is ingrained in the passion. We understand it all adds up and try hard to find gear that fits every budget. She writes about her families adventures and life with cerebral Cavernomas on her Instagram.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @jen.a.gardner
Jessica Floyd – Washington
Jessica likes to consider herself the world’s most average outdoor mom – her family goes on big adventures here and there but mostly just loves being outside and making the most of their everyday life and opportunities to exist in nature.
She didn’t grow up doing anything in the outdoors, but when she relocated to Washington State from Illinois after college she found her inner mountain woman and hasn’t ever looked back. This means she is learning a lot of things as an adult and alongside her kiddos – skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, canoeing, fishing, etc. – a process she finds both humbling and empowering!
She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, and is very passionate about the outdoors as a source of healing and grounding and connection for kids and adults alike. She is also very passionate about examining outdoor culture with a critical eye to discern how we can increase access and inclusivity for people of all races, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds.
Her husband Ben is her best adventure partner, along with her two kids and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @jurassica_marie
Kristin Drenzek – Alaska
Kristin grew up in Western Massachusetts but has been exploring the majesty of Alaska for most of her adult life. She homeschools three wildlings: Zane, Eliza, and Aurora; and tries to spend as much time as possible learning outside.
Kristin loves backpacking, camping, skating, Nordic skiing, ice, puddle stomping, kayaking, laughing, igloo building, reading, science, baking, photography, and watching the sun go down from on top of a mountain; and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for the natural world and her knowledge of the gear that can get you out there in every kind of weather. Exploring the world with her children is her greatest adventure yet.
She works part-time from home as an Editor and Environmental Scientist.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @AlaskaWildlings
Laura Tolbert – Indiana
Laura and her husband are raising their seven children in Indiana, and despite the state’s flat, cornfield reputation, they enjoy camping and hiking in many beautiful local parks. They also are pursuing a bigger family dream–backpacking the entire Appalachian Trail–and they spend time each year training in the Smokey or White Mountains for that venture, which is set to begin in 2025.
Laura homeschools their children, ages 4 to 15, and loves learning alongside them as well as teaching classes at their homeschool co-op. She also loves Jane Austen and will happily debate the merits of each book or movie adaption with anyone!
Follow their adventures on Instagram @tolbertstakethetrail
Mary Burton – Idaho
Mary lives in Victor, Idaho. She enjoys bike touring, rafting, and skiing with her husband and three boys. Running in the Tetons and playing outside keeps her sane and happy.
Rebecca Hosley – Virginia
Rebecca has lived in five different U.S. states in the last decade with her Navy submariner husband and two boys. A former science teacher turned home educator, she now focuses on exploring her surrounding area (currently Virginia Beach) with her family as much as possible before life sends them on another adventure elsewhere.
While she has a background in Biology and Environmental Science, her true love of the outdoors didn’t come until she had children and witnessed the incredible wonder of nature through their eyes. Their current favorite outdoor activities include hiking, kayaking, camping, geocaching, and nature journaling.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @frazzlednaturemom
Sarah Toal – Wyoming
Sarah Toal is a Colorado native who now calls Jackson, Wyoming, home. Sarah, her husband Evan, and two kids August, age 7, and Harper, age 5, spend their (long!) winters snowboarding, and (short!) summers riding bikes, floating on the Snake River, and hiking.
Follow their adventures on Instagram @sartoal
Stephanie Johnson – Idaho
Stephanie is an Idaho native who recently returned to the state after living in Texas, Missouri, and Kentucky. She and her husband have 4 kids and one on the way. Stephanie has a background in exercise science and a masters of public health but spends most of her time chasing children.
As a family of 6 they enjoy biking, hiking, skiing, camping, climbing, traveling, backpacking and being silly. Like many others, they’re trying to balance the complexities of work and family life. They’ve found that time slows down when they’re outside adventuring together and appreciate the simplicity and beauty they find there.
And if you’re new here, a bit about me:
Amelia lives with her husband and 5 children outside of Jackson, WY. She can wrestle a kid into a snowsuit like a ninja, isn’t above bribing her kids on the trail, and is just a better mom outside.
She started Tales of a Mountain Mama almost 10 years ago on a whim, and still loves connecting with other outdoor families all over the country.
Please warmly welcome these ladies – they are amazing and I’m so thrilled to have them!
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