Mt. Kilimanjaro wide shot

Meet the Evergreen Escapes International Team

May 17, 2016

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Jake in Namibia

Jake Haupert

A Pacific Northwest native, Jake is the Founder of Evergreen Escapes, which he started in 2006. Jake graduated from Southern Oregon University with a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management and was recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as a ‘Top 40 Under 40 Business Leader in 2014.’ He has a penchant for innovation, tenacious ambition, unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit, and genuine personality. An avid outdoorsman and a responsible and active traveler, Jake has turned his passion for the transformational power of travel into his life’s work. Even his closest friends cannot decipher when he is working or playing.

Jake has spent more than ten years crafting tours to Australia & New Zealand. He is an Aussie Premier Specialist and is passionate about sending clients to one of his favorite places on Earth!

Why do you travel?

Travel stokes the fire that burns inside me, it’s restorative, it’s transformational, it cultivates personal growth and it calls upon me to effect positive change personally and professionally, on the planet, in my community, and back home.

Is there a trip that transformed you?

I believe all travel is transformative by nature, and innately challenges and changes us. However, my recent journey through Namibia and Zimbabwe was especially powerful, from interaction with the Himba in Namibia, to the eerie sounds of wildlife echoing across the bush at night. I went into this trip with intention, raised awareness, and seeking answers about what was next for me back home…

Never leave home without?

An open mind, heart, and soul.

Kassie McKnight

As a born and raised Washingtonian, Kassie derives much of her adventurous spirit from the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. After completing her studies in Recreation and Leisure Services at Western Washington University, Kassie was able to take her degree, combine it with her PNW spirit – along with a bit of coffee – and create a path for herself in the tourism industry. She was especially drawn to the concept of responsible tourism, and spent a year traveling South America to experience travel and tourism in action. Eventually she found herself back in Seattle ready to explore her own backyard. Kassie spent a year promoting inbound tourism to the vibrant city of Seattle, but has returned to international travel as Evergreen Escape’s International Program Manager.

You can find Kassie escaping to the mountains, fishing with the family, or taking an afternoon stroll through one of Seattle’s many city parks after brunch. She has plans to take certification courses in sea kayaking and then hit the Puget Sound waters as soon as she possibly can.

Why do you travel?

I feel travel is essential to my happiness and well-being. I use it as tool for personal growth and mutual learning opportunities between myself and a destination. Travel continues to direct me towards a more fulfilling and purposeful life: a goal I strive for daily, and one which I am more than happy to share with others.

Is there a trip that transformed you?

South America was never on the top of my list of destinations until I had a chance to visit Peru as a student. We saw the sights, tasted the flavors, and engaged in the culture. Yet the most important take-away came in the form of our group’s research assignment. Our purpose was to collect data on tourists’ use of plastic water bottles, then analyze the impact that use has on destinations. That experience connected me with the land and its’ people beyond what I thought possible. It also showed me what travel can bring to one’s life as well as those you encounter while traveling.

Never leave home without?

Chapstick, gum, shades, and a water purification device! Go TAP!

Kirsten Gardner

A Pacific Northwest transplant, Kirsten found her way to Seattle in 2010 after several years working in the fly fishing industry for a Pittsburgh-based travel company.  Traveling to Slovenia every year to fish was great, but time spent kayaking and hiking through Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and watching Mt. Rainier turn pink with alpenglow convinced her that the west coast was indeed the best coast. So she sold her things, packed her car and embarked on the Great American Road Trip to Seattle where she quickly fell in love and found her soul in the wilderness of the Olympic and Cascade ranges. Kirsten has degrees in Anthropology and History and spent several years designing and leading trekking and eco-tours throughout South America, experiences she draws upon as Manager of Evergreen Escapes International Programs.  A former guide for Evergreen, Kirsten now finds herself behind a desk more than in the field but spends her free time on climbing trips through the North Cascades, mountain biking, relishing in the joy of skiing– a new discovery in 2015 after an inexcusable lifetime of missing out – and introducing local youth to the great outdoors as a volunteer with the Seattle Inner City Outings Program. In 2017, Kirsten hits the road for a year of playing outside while living in a Sprinter Van with her boyfriend and his small dog, but will still manage Evergreen’s international programs in South America.

Why do you travel?

At heart I am a restless soul, always seeking new experiences and interactions with people, cultures and landscapes.  I like the unpredictable nature of travel, the challenge of being outside of my comfort zone and routine, being forced to be resourceful, creative and flexible, and learning from the people I interact with on any journey.

Is there a trip that transformed you?

Sailing the world with Semester at Sea in 2005 was an eye opener.  Prior to that global journey, I had only been to Canada and St. Martin.  In Myanmar, we were befriended by a man named Victor and traveled with him by boat to spend a few days in a remote farming community where the residents probably hadn’t seen a foreign face since British rule ended in 1948. Victor and I maintained contact through letters for years afterwards and I visited him again in Thailand when he was living in the Mae La refugee camp after fleeing Myanmar in 2008. Friendship with Victor and the kindness of everyone that I met in Myanmar reminded me of how lucky and privileged I am to have the luxury to travel for fun, then return to a comfortable home and the responsibility we have to welcome travelers into own country, whether they come for leisure, curiosity, education or asylum.

Never leave home without?

A little notebook with a few key words and phrases jotted down, tenacious tape, rechargeable headlamp and a way to purify water.  I try to never buy bottled water while traveling and am a strong supporter of TAP (Travelers Against Plastic)

Dan Hopkins

Dan Hopkins

Dan is the owner of GrassTrack Safaris, an adventure travel company founded to offer authentic experiences of the African wilderness. Growing up in rural Maine gave Dan plenty of opportunity to explore the woods and mountains around his family’s farm. Ever since, he has been hiking and traveling the world. Dan went to Paul Smiths College in the Adirondack Mountains and the University of Montana for a zoology degree. He indulged in his love of fly fishing and hiking in Glacier, Yellowstone, and “The Bob”. Dan’s search for adventure took him to Alaska where he worked as a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea, then to Colorado for graduate work in zoology and genetics. During his spare time here, Dan led natural history hikes for the Denver Museum of History and Science and the local Audubon Chapter. Having hiked, backpacked, and fished all over the West, he headed back to New Hampshire to start a biochemistry PhD at Dartmouth. Dan has traveled extensively through Central and South America but he finds he cannot stay away from Africa.

Why do you travel?

I love to travel for the challenge, the anticipation of experiencing an unfamiliar place, and for the opportunity to see fascinating cultures.

Is there a trip that transformed you?

My most transformative trip was in Africa when friends and I drove a land rover from Nairobi to Johannesburg. The vast herds of the Masai Mara, swimming in Lake Malawi, and hearing lions roar outside my tent, convinced me what an amazing destination Africa is.

Never leave home without?

I never travel without binoculars!

Carrie with a Vulture

Carrie Culp

Over twenty years ago, Carrie drove cross country from Philadelphia to Seattle with her Doberman and whatever she could pack in her Honda Civic in an effort to find nature and a home in the city her grandfather loved. Her fascination with Africa began with a book she read in her elementary school library. As kids, she and her best friend “practiced” running away to Africa in the woods of Southern New Jersey.   While this plan never came to pass, she did get there eventually and fell in love with Africa on her first visit. She went back and trained as a Level 1 Field Guide (safari guide) the very next year. There is something about taking steps on African soil that makes her feel at home. She has been exploring the African continent for over ten years and loves to share its beauty with first time travelers and those who have caught the bug the way she has. In 2014, she could no longer resist the need she felt to give back to the people and the wilderness there. She founded Painted Dog Research Trust USA, a not for profit organization that benefits research and conservation of the African Wild Dog. Its mission is to connect college students to real-world projects that enhance their education and benefit research and conservation. PDRT-USA’s current project is with Washington State University for the design and construction of an affordable research drone for conservation. In her free time, Carrie enjoys photography, kayaking, and playing ice hockey.

Why do you travel?

I travel to experience the world firsthand and to get outside of my routine. I want to see things for myself and have the opportunity to photograph them in order to bring them to light for other people. I travel to Africa specifically because it is there that I feel most connected to nature, Earth and spirit.

Is there a trip that transformed you?

Each trip I have taken transforms me in some way.   The month I spent in South Africa training to be a safari guide definitely gave me a deep comfort with the bush that I hadn’t had before. On a subsequent trip, I was given the opportunity to swim in the Okavango Delta – and that remains one of my most memorable experiences in my favorite place on Earth.

Never leave home without?

I never leave home without a camera. I love to photograph and share. That camera could be my iPhone … but it’s usually my Canon and a number of heavy lenses.

Seamus in Greenland

Seamus Hogg

Seamus grew up in Chicago but spent many of the weekends of his youth exploring the lakes and trails (and later microbrews) of Wisconsin with his family. Unforgettable trips to Europe, Japan, China, Costa Rica, Peru, and throughout the US, inspired him to apply his marketing experience in the travel industry. He completed a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Tourism at The George Washington University and spent a summer guiding backpacking trips in Bolivia and a winter/spring in Greenland working on tourism development programs in Nuuk. After living in Washington, DC for four years, he decided that he needed a change of Washington, and headed west to Seattle. When he’s not working you can find him hiking to mountain lakes, running along the Sound, perfecting his cold brew coffee, planning his next trip, or searching for a new favorite restaurant for cheap

Why do you travel?

I travel to experience new cultures and environments, expand my worldview, see beautiful places, and chow down on the best local eats.

Is there a trip that transformed you?

After I graduated from college, I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Peru before starting work. I was stunned by the diversity of landscapes, the warmth of the people, and the thrill of exploring ancient Incan ruins. I had traveled before but that trip opened my eyes to just how much there was to explore in this world.

Never leave home without?

A pair of hiking boots and a list of foods or restaurants to try!

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