Kimery Duda, Founder and Executive Director
Kimery’s base camp is Austin, Texas – but, she’ll be the first to tell you that her home is where her heart is – and, that is, in the field. Her passion for adventure was ignited in 1996 by an expedition set out to climb the highest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba. She was taken under the wings of a Mexican family who exposed her to some of the most pristine cultural, historical, and natural sanctuaries throughout Mexico.
After ten years of teaching and professionally guiding throughout the world, Kimery went on to Found The Expedition School in 2006 – a company that creates and provides opportunities which embrace the ethos of the expedition – through adventure and education. Voted the Top Training Provider by the American Red Cross for the last 5 years in a row, over 200 lives have been saved by our students who have taken our safety courses in CPR/AED, Lifeguarding, and Wilderness First Aid. Whether it’s corporate Teambuidling, Field Programming, or paddling on Town Lake in Austin, Texas – Kimery and the staff of The Expedition School look forward to sharing and exchanging their knowledge, skills, and wisdom with you in the field.
- Current Residence: Austin, Texas
- Years as CEO and Founder 16
- Years of Guide Experience: 26
- Years of Teaching Experience: 26
- Skills: Teambuilding, surfing, mountaineering, photography, sea kayaking, and writing
Dr. Mark Ackrell, Medical Director
Mark was born in 1965 in Honolulu, HI to parents with a bad case of wanderlust. He has been traveling ever since (50+ countries and counting). While growing up in Leicester, England and San Francisco, most of his athletic endeavors revolved around playing soccer. Since completing his residency in Emergency Medicine he has utilized his skills while working, traveling and playing throughout the world. He has been medical back up for climbing expeditions through South America and Africa. He is a team physician for both for Florida’s federal disaster medical assistance team (DMAT-FL4) as well as the state relief team (SRT-1) and has worked most of the recent hurricanes. He continues to be a clinical instructor for Univ. of Florida and is involved with NASA as a shuttle launch physician.
- B.A. Physiology, Univ. of Ca, Berkeley
- B.A. Biochemistry with minor in Mol. Biology, Univ. of Ca. Berkeley
- M.D. University of Pittsburgh
- Residency in Int Med & Emergency Medicine, Univ. of Florida, Jacksonville.
- Medical Director, Emergency Dept, South Austin Hospital
- Clinical Instructor, Dept of Emergency Medicine, Univ. of Fl
- Assoc. Director, Office of the Medical Director, Austin/Travis County EMS
- Medical Director, The Expedition School, Austin Tx
- Medical Director, Motorcycle Special Events Team , Austin Tx.
- Team Physician: DMAT-FL 4
- Team Physician: Fl SRT-1
- Team Physician: Univ of Fl/NASA shuttle launch team
- Certifications: FACEP, ATLS, ACLS, PALS, AHLS, AWLS, Hyperbaric Medicine, CCATT, ABLS
- Current Residence: Austin, Texas
- Years in the Field: 16
- Skills: austere environment/pre-hospital medicine, scuba diving
Born and raised in the beautiful City of Boston, I am your classic street kid from the urban jungle. As such, I had had very little exposure to the wonder and majesty of nature. At the age of 25, I escaped the big city and embarked on a yearlong backpacking adventure through Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Bali, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Hawaii. It forever changed me. Beautiful beaches. Coral Reefs. The Outback. Waterfalls. Fjords. Rain forests and jungle. Street food and most of all the people. I discovered who I was and who I would become. I learned of grace and gratitude. I met people who inspired me, motivated me and taught me something new. Now in my 50’s, I have rediscovered the wonder and majesty of nature and want to inspire and motivate others to get out and explore.
Michael lives in the desert mountains of West Texas, a place he has called home since 2009. As a child growing up in Central Texas, most of his time was spent outdoors – camping, hiking, boating, fishing and hunting. A firm respect and curiosity of the natural world was instilled in him by his parents. This natural curiosity led him towards botany as a career. During his time with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, he headed projects in Texas such as the Millennium Seed Bank Project, Ferns of the Trans-Pecos, and the Vegetation Survey of Big Bend National Park. As a freelance botanist, he has performed numerous vegetation and rare plant surveys throughout Texas and in northern Mexico. Additionally, Michael heads the Rare Plant Conservation and Research department at the San Antonio Botanical Garden and he is on the state board of the Native Plant Society of Texas and the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. His first book, Wildflowers of Texas, was released in April of 2018, with two book projects currently underway.
Bill spent a decade as a wilderness educator, rock-climbing guide, paddling guide and program director for Outward Bound. He has experience leading remote expeditions for groups ranging from juvenile justice offenders to corporate executives. Bill is also a Flight Paramedic and has worked in EMS since 1989. He began his career in pre-hospital medicine as a combat medic for the US Army. Since then he has worked urban EMS in Boston and rural EMS in Vermont, Oregon, and Colorado as well as on a professional ski patrol, and as a Flight Paramedic on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Currently he works as a Helicopter Rescue Specialist and Crew Chief for Travis County STAR Flight in Austin, Tx. In his spare time he rock-climbs, paddles, scuba dives, and trains for triathlons.
After spending 20 years as a CPA in public accounting, I turned to anything and everything outdoors spending the next 20 years as a paramedic/fire fighter/instructor and now adding nursing to my unusual journey. As a 3rd generation Texan my hobbies include travel, camping, hiking, horses, water activities, and anything else that comes my way. I was fortunate to raise my sons in the outdoors experiencing miles and miles of Texas adventure traveling on horseback. I am now privileged to be introducing my six grandchildren to the same extraordinary experiences cultivating their love of the outdoors and the rich history of our State and Country.
- BBA Accounting with minor in Business, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Tx
- AD Nursing, Austin Community College, Austin, Tx
- BS Nursing, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Tx
- Assistant Director, Paramedic/RN, The Expedition School
- Registered Nurse, Emergency Department, Baylor Scott & White
- Licensed Paramedic, City of Burnet for 21 years (Retired from Williamson County EMS)
- Fire Fighter, City of Burnet
- ACLS, PALS, BLS, AMLS, BTLS, EPC, WFA, and Red Cross Instructor
Caity has been an outdoor educator and guide with the Expedition School since 2010. Her passion for education, adventure, travel and and recreation has taken her all over the world, but she calls the desert southwest home. Her favorite aspect of her work is seeing students lean into their curiosity, grow and ask questions.
Her passions include lots of coffee, cuddling dogs, quality time spent outside, sunshine, reading and finding the perfect hammock spot. In her free time she enjoys volunteering with the Pima County Search and Rescue team, and hiking the trails in her backyard National Park.
Lola was born in San Francisco, CA and raised in Austin, TX. She was a GirlScout for 9 years and would frequently go camping on the weekends. During that time, she would also go horseback riding, zip lining, hiking, and rock climbing. Lola has adventured to other countries including Mexico, Costa Rica, and Italy – and has climbed the Mayan temples, zip lined across the jungle of Costa Rica, snorkeled in the Atlantic Ocean, and kayaked in the Pacific Ocean.
Lola has been a lifeguard since the summer of 2021, and has worked with The Expedition School since 2022. She is excited to continue working in the outdoor education, recreation, and safety industry.
Certifications include: American Red Cross Waterfront and Waterpark Lifeguard, CPR/AED, and First Aid training
Sophia grew up in Katy, Texas, a flat concrete jungle that makes recreating in the outdoors difficult. She only briefly got to experience the outdoors, while visiting her family in Mexico, on their day hikes. In 2021, she visited Maui and lived off grid for a month while volunteering at a farm in the upcountry. After moving to San Antonio in 2022, she found her love for the outdoors while visiting the parks nearby. Since then, she’s made lots of memories hiking, kayaking, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, and camping. She is a full time student at UTSA, studying environmental studies as well as a manager at the boathouses in San Antonio. She is CPR/AED certified.
Growing up in Albuquerque and Austin, Adam has cultivated his love for the out of doors from his family’s travels. He appreciates the power of adventure to engage both mind and body. As a guide, he comes with an innate gift of connecting community while fostering educational experiences for novice and experienced students alike.
Certifications: NREMT, American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguard, Lifeguard Instructor Trainer, Water Safety Instructor Trainer, WFA Instructor, BLS Instructor, Small Craft Water Safety Instructor, ACA Level 1 SUP & Kayak Instructor, Level II Challenge Course Practitioner
Elliott Trahan started guiding with The Expedition School as soon as he could legally drive a car. Originally drawn to the job by his lifelong love for the water, he has returned for six summers and counting to further his passion as an outdoor educator alongside an unmatched cast of stellar humans.
With each year, Elliott brings a new set of experiences to his guiding and instructing. After graduating high school, he spent nine months working, teaching, and traveling abroad, hitting 21 countries in South America and Europe by way of trains, busses, and his right thumb. He’s also worked at summer camps and helped lead hiking trips alongside fellow college students in the Appalachian Mountains.
Now, Elliott lives with one foot in Austin and the other in Boston, where he studies American Studies and Environmental Studies at Tufts University and volunteers as an organizer in the Sunrise Movement. Back with the Ex School for Summer 2020, he couldn’t be more stoked to be outside again with a community he’s proud to call his home.
Kerstin Wiggins, SUP Instructor
An avid stand up paddler, Kerstin has been paddling the Texas waterways for over 5 years. A surfer at heart, she has surfed waves in Texas, California, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. She infuses her love of SUP and surfing and her desire to connect with others in a meaningful way in each interaction she has with students on the water. She faithfully practices her pop ups and sees each new day as an opportunity to practice what surfing and Stand Up Paddling requires… a still mind, healthy body, strong inner core (inside & out), respect for Mother Nature and a sense of wonder and adventure.
When not on the water, Kerstin can be found with a camera in hand photographing the natural landscape, with a pen in hand jotting down bursts of inspiration or with headphones on listening to Led Zeppelin.
Kerstin fully subscribes to the philosophy that you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn SUP or Surf! And you’ll find no better teachers than the extraordinary staff of the Expedition School!
Certifications: Waterfront Lifeguard, CPR/First Aid, Wilderness
First Aid, ACA Certified SUP Instructor, SUPcore™ Instructor
Current Residence: Austin, Texas
Skills: Stand up paddling, surfing, landscape photography, writing,
and smoothie-maker extraordinaire