Meet our Apprentices

Molly Belk, Spanish Apprentice, hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. She grew up in a large family of seven who spent their time going to family camp, traveling, camping, hiking, and any activity they could get their hands on. At fourteen years old she went to a boarding school in Delaware, called St. Andrew’s, where her creative self thrived in a close-knit community setting. From there, she went to Williams College where she played lacrosse for four years, ran cross-country, and studied Latin American history. Her junior year, Molly took the opportunity to study in Valparaiso, Chile and with the help of a summer scholarship built hoop houses to grow organic produce in Nicaragua. This past year Molly took time to travel around Patagonia, work in Jackson Hole, and road trip through the United States and Canada. Most recently she finished her second summer leading teen trips for Wilderness Adventures. Molly is excited to bring together her love of trip leading and Spanish at High Mountain Institute this Fall.

Andrew Bridgers, Mathematics Apprentice, recently graduated from Middlebury College in beautiful Vermont. During his junior fall, he studied math and Scottish Literature at the University of Edinburgh and enjoyed exploring the highlands of Scotland. During his senior year he completed senior thesis work in abstract algebra and algebraic number theory studying Euclidean domains. When not doing math at college, Andrew enjoyed playing ultimate Frisbee for the Middlebury Pranksters, building sets as a theater production assistant, and leading orientation backpacking trips. In his free time, he loves cooking for friends and family, biking, reading, and is an avid euchre and spades player.

Jonathan Constabel, Science Apprentice, fostered his love and curiosity towards the natural world in the Appalachian oak forests of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Jonathan grew up exploring the unique plants and critters in the woodlands surrounding the Green Lane Nature Center from the age of three, and he hasn’t stopped since. This past May, Jonathan graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Conservation Biology and Biodiversity.  During college, Jonathan lived in a sustainability/place-based living community, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and taught a yearlong field lab in natural history. His studies ranged from herpetology to dendrochronology and winter ecology of the Maine woods. Jonathan is an avid guitarist, runner/cyclist, and photographer, and enjoys anything to do with hiking, travel ling, and the outdoors. He cannot wait to share his passion for nature in the unique ecosystems surrounding Leadville, CO.

Leslie Dinkin, Wilderness Apprentice, was born and raised in Southern California. Leslie grew up hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. Her love for backpacking and camping grew during her summers in northern Wisconsin as both a camper and a counselor. She first fell in love with Colorado after spending a semester at HMI in 2011 and then again as the High Peaks Adventure and Lake County Backpacking intern at HMI last summer.  She is excited to reunite with the Leadville community for the third time as the Wilderness Apprentice. In May, Leslie graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a minor in Concepts of Human Nature. When Leslie isn’t hiking, she can be found on the potter’s wheel making bowls or skiing in the Rocky Mountains.

Katie Eaton, Marketing Apprentice, grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and was introduced to HMI as a student in the fall of 2011. Her newfound love for the outdoors and close-knit communities brought her to St. Lawrence University, where she pursued a degree in Environmental Studies and Communications. In New York, she explored the mountains in the Adirondacks through Outing Club trips and as a Pre-Orientation trip leader. She spent much of her time in the admissions office as an Ambassador, Summer Intern, and Senior Fellow. After graduation, Katie spent the summer on Cape Cod working at a surf shop, where she attempted to pick up a new hobby. Though she enjoyed her time in the East, the Colorado mountains continued to call her name and so she has returned to HMI as an apprentice, where she has the opportunity to combine her love for the wilderness, community, and education with marketing, which she never thought she could do.

Maria Jose (MJ) Fernandez, History Apprentice, was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. There she fell in love with the outdoors splitting her time between hikes to the Cordillera Central and dives into the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. She discovered her love for outdoor education in the Mountains of the Dominican Republic working with the Fundacion Siempre Mas, where she led environmental expeditions to the tallest peak in the Caribbean for kids from underprivileged communities around the island. She moved to the United States four years ago to pursue a double major in Secondary Education and History at NYU. During her time in New York she worked with middle and high school students teaching history and civics while also working at the NYU admissions office. Although she loved the city she felt like she needed to go back to her outdoor roots and decided to join the HMI family. She is very excited to spend time with her new students in both the classroom and the great outdoors!

Emma Reynolds, English Apprentice, a native Coloradan, grew up backpacking with her parents every summer. She attended Hamilton College in Upstate New York, where she lead kayaking, canoeing, and hiking trips with her school’s Outing Club and Pre-Orientation program. In May, Emma graduated with a degree in Comparative Literature. She loves combining her love for alpine starts with early morning haiku—she always carries at least one book in her backpack. She believes there is magic in sharing words while in the woods. Emma is excited to pursue her love of outdoor leadership and teaching literature while working as the English Apprentice at HMI. While in Leadville, you can find her roasting vegetables, running in the early morning, and rotating through her colorful neck-warmer collection.

Kelt Wilska, Humanities Apprentice, hails from the booming metropolis of Old Chatham, New York where he grew up on the family farm and developed a love for all things outdoors.  While he continued to pursue this passion at Hamilton College as both an Outing Club Leader and Summer Farm Manager, Kelt also spent his time playing the saxophone in various school music groups, reading lots of books for his Comparative Literature major, and trying desperately to make people laugh (success rate…up for debate?) as a part of Hamilton’s premier (and only…) improv comedy troupe, Yodapez.  When he’s not working, odds are you can find him in a lake or stream with a fishing rod, enjoying nature’s quiet and friendly company.  Kelt is thrilled to be working at HMI and can’t wait to show students the joys and freedoms of interdisciplinary learning.