Meet The Staff
Lily Conrad - Guide and Support Staff
A Georgia native, Lily has been in Raleigh/Durham for almost 3 years now. When not traveling for work she is outdoors as much as possible. She begin leading trips in college while a part of the GA State competitive rock climbing team. Seeking to expand her guide knowledge she began leading hiking and backpacking trips for the GA State outdoors recreation program. After moving to Raleigh for a job she found Frog Hollow the perfect fit to match her love for the outdoors and major in hospitality to continue her learning and growing in the outdoor excursions industry. Her next career plan is to make outdoor excursions her full time career. Come find her out on the water!
Banks Dixon - Original Frog Hollower
Banks began the first inception of Frog Hollow in 1998 as a very tiny side business. In 2006 he re-envisioned the business to become his full time work. Banks has worked as an outdoor guide, instructor, and environmentalist since the late 80s, doing work such as the Adventure Director for Camp Frederick in OH facilitating team-building workshops through low and high ropes courses, river trips and caving expeditions, and Stewardship Coordinator for the Triangle Land Conservancy managing land and volunteers. He is an Eagle Scout, a trained National Outdoor Leadership Schools (NOLS) Outdoor Educator, American Canoe Association (ACA) Kayak Instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). His personal travels include numerous larger expeditions, highlights of these include: thru-hiking the AT, climbing Mt. Rainier, traversing the Baja, trekking the Annapurna’s in Nepal, and kayaking the Grand Canyon. Banks is committed to helping clients gain a greater respect and understanding of themselves, others, and their environment through outdoor adventure based activities.
James DeVore - Guide and Support Staff
James was born in Sedona Arizona, where he learned to love spending time outdoors. He graduated from the University of Arizona, with a degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, which allowed him to learn more about biological systems, and the diversity of life. James has taken part in projects that range from tracking and catching jackrabbits in the desert, to digging up seeds and maneuvering boats through the panama canal. he is still in search of something to call his passion, but whatever it is, he is sure it will involve spending time outside. James moved to Durham mid 2015, so he is still relatively new to the area, but loves seeing all North Carolina has to offer! He hasn't spent much time on the water (growing up in the desert may or may not have had a role in that), but that is quickly changing thanks to Frog Hollow...
Justin Hardy - Guide and Support Staff
Hey There, my name is Justin. Good to meet ya! What I do: A UNC graduate (2009), personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach, future physical therapy student (potentially next year 😉), paddler, hobby chef. But, who I am is: A lover of the outdoors, an optimist, a friend to anyone, interested in all things exercise and healthy, a mindful dude, and super excited that you are interested in meeting up for a paddle! I have paddled intermittently throughout my life and have within the last year looked to increase my knowledge of the activity and to meet others who enjoy it too! I strive to enjoy the present moment, whatever it has to offer, and look forward to sharing some time together to paddle, have fun and share stories.
Ben Herman - Guide and Support Staff
Originally from Asheville, NC where I grew up backpacking, hiking, creek walking and playing outside. I am a recent graduate from NC State University in Parks, Recreation and Tourism with a minor in Outdoor Leadership where my love for being outside was given a purpose.I enjoy traveling the world and going on new adventures, having most recently just visited Ireland for a week! Having just moved back to the Raleigh-Durham area after spending a year as a kayak guide in Hilton Head Island, SC. I look forward to getting people outside whether on the water or hitting the trails.
Ethan Knowles - 2017 Summer Intern
Ethan Knowles was born in Lexington, North Carolina but currently resides in Raleigh. He is an undergraduate at NC State University where he majors in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management and has a concentration in Natural Resources. Ethan loves everything to do with the outdoors and has many large trips planned for his near future, including an Appalachian Trail thru hike in 2018. When not at Frog Hollow Ethan can be found wandering about the Raleigh/Durham area searching for the best food NC has to offer.
Bryan Lesko - Lead Guide and Instructor
Originally from Central Illinois, Bryan moved to North Carolina in 1995 and joined the Frog Hollow staff in 2011. Although Bryan is an IT consultant by day, he finds his true passion in the great outdoors. He enjoys visiting the National Parks and cycling with his wife, Emily, backpacking with his friends, and kayaking with his Frog Hollow family. Bryan is also a certified Wilderness First Responder, so you’ll be in good hands with him around! Affectionately nicknamed Quiet Riot by Frog Hollow, Bryan is laid back, patient and meticulous, but don’t let his quiet demeanor fool you; you’re guaranteed to have a fun time on any trip he guides!
Jordan Ludwick - Guide and Instructor
Jordan is an undergraduate student at NC State University currently studying Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management. He is an eagle scout and has always had a passion for outdoor recreation. Jordan grew up in Northeast Ohio, spending much of his childhood and adolescent years trout fishing and hiking in the central Pennsylvania mountains. Since then, Jordan has worked for North Carolina State Parks and Wake County Parks providing recreation opportunities for visitors and managing park resources. In his spare time, Jordan can likely be found riding his bicycle, backpacking in the Appalachian mountains, or dropping a line at a local fishing hole.
Sandro Mendoza – Guide and Support Staff
Sandro was born in San Pabilto Puebla, Mexico and grew up in Durham. He is very active in his community, always willing to help out and volunteer for whatever is needed (you can check out some of his volunteer handywork on the mural that is on the side of Torrero's at the corner of Main and Duke St). He speaks three languages: Otomi, Spanish and English. In his free time he enjoys being outside, playing soccer, and being in a kayak or canoe. Sandro enjoys working at our West Point Outpost, come by and say hello sometime.
Avi Mondragon - Guide and Support Staff
Avi is from Mexico, but grew up in Durham, North Carolina. She is a graduate of Durham School of the Arts and hopes to create a career in Media Studies. During her free time she enjoys reading all types of books, from East of Eden by John Steinbeck to the Harry Potter series. Sic-fi is her favorite genre of television, Doctor Who, Star trek, Star Wars and The X-files are among her most-liked. Being outside is somewhat like meditating for her, a long run with David Bowie music is her favorite way to think. She began working for Frog Hollow in 2016, and finds kayaking and canoeing a great way to enjoy nature and exercise.
Stephen Mullaney - Lead Guide and Instructor
Stephen Mullaney has worked internationally with schools, organizations and wilderness programs. His classrooms have ranged from dilapidated trailers at overcrowded, underfunded schools to the Himalayan mountains and lots in between. His students include K-12, former gang members/prisoners and education majors and professors . Stephen's philosophy is to focus on the development of positive working and learning environments. Stephen brings over 20 years of education experience and understanding of human nature to bring positive change to any organization, whether it is an education institution or a private company. He prefers to arrive by bicycle and sit in the dirt.
Julian Phelps - Guide and Support Staff
Julian began working at Frog Hollow in 2015. He was born Gainesville Florida and grew up in the Hillsborough-Durham area, residing in the country where he continues to explore the great outdoors through nature walks, gardening, camping, and paddling. He graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a degree in Studio Art minoring in Art Therapy, Creative Writing, and Psychology and plans to pursue a Masters in Art Therapy Counseling. While not outdoors, he is painting and showing his art at his studio Phelps Phine Art in downtown Durham.
Josh Prior – Rock Climbing Guide and Instruction
Josh has been working in the outdoor industry for over a decade. He has been a trip leader, lead instructor, and field director. He's spent over 1,000 days in the field with various age groups, primarily adolescents. He maintains a WFR certification and is aspiring to obtain his EMT. Currently he spends his time being a father of two handsome boys, managing a small residential woodworking company, and taking every opportunity to get out and explore.
Chris Sajdak - Guide and Support Staff
Chris moved to Durham in January 2016 to serve as an AmeriCorps Member at the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association where he brings Durham elementary students on environmental education field trips. Originally from Michigan, Chris has also lived in Florida, Wisconsin, and Indiana. He has worked in the outdoor industry for five years before coming to Frog Hollow, leading college students and campers on backpacking and canoeing trips from the Grand Canyon to Appalachia and up into Canada. Prior to moving to Durham, Chris was working at a wilderness therapy program in Wisconsin. When not working, Chris enjoys playing his instruments, slacklining, and padding in 160-mile river races.
Forrest Stavish – Rock Climbing Guide and Instruction
Forrest grew up in western North Carolina, and currently resides In Hot Springs North Carolina. He was introduced to the outdoors at an early age, his father would take him backpacking and hiking as a young child. Forrest's first memory of backpacking was during a trip to Linville Gorge at the age of nine. Around the same time his father introduced him to rock climbing by taking him to the local climbing gym. It wasn’t until 2004 that he became serious about rock climbing, when his older brother took him bouldering at Rumbling Bald, later they went on a trip to Table Rock in Linville Gorge where he got on the rope for the first time, and he was hooked. In 2012 Forrest began instructing in the rock climbing discipline as well as working as field staff in the backcountry and is an American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch certified instructor. He is a wilderness EMT as well as a NC registered EMT-B. He also volunteers with the Spring Creek Fire Department as Assistant Chief. He is also a National Association for Search and Rescue SARTECH II. Other than rock climbing his interests are in wilderness medicine, pre-hospital care, wildland and structural firefighting as well as search and rescue. He spends most of his free time with the fire department, rock climbing or just enjoying the outdoors, and also work for the NC Forest Service as a wildland firefighter.
Carly Stines - Jr Staff, Guide, and Instructor
If you want to know where Carly is, just look in the water! She is an avid year round competitive swimmer, summertime surfer, and kayaker. Her relationship with Frog Hollow started at age 11 taking Frog Hollow's Basic Kayaking classes, all the way up to Intro to Whitewater, later progressing to Guide in Training, and now a Junior Staff member. When she's not in the water, she loves all things outdoors, has a passion for keeping plastic out of the water, playing the Irish fiddle, and studying studying studying. Her soulmate is her dog Dingo, who is with her all the time (who loves the water too). When working at Frog Hollow, she can be found assisting with summer camps, night paddles, and some guided day trips. Future plans include college and more water, of course.
Laura Stroud - Guide and Support Staff
Laura Stroud is a North Carolina native and grew up on the coast where she intermittently camped and kayaked and hiked. She has had the great pleasure of living in NC’s coast, piedmont, and mountains and has loved getting to know rivers in each part of the state. During a few years spent in Oregon, friends somehow convinced her that raft guiding, rock climbing, and snow camping were all reasonable and fun things for a human being to do. They were right, and she is eternally grateful to them. She’s learned that sharing with others your passion of outdoor pursuits is one of the best ways to fall even more in love with an activity or a place. She is so excited to have the privilege of sharing local lakes and rivers with NC’s residents!
Cathy Teasley – Lead Guide and Operations Support Staff
Cathy is a Durham native and fervent defender of her hometown. She has fond memories of exploring the Neuse River as a teenager before it was under Falls Lake. She was a Girl Scout leader in Durham for over 20 years, during that time she took great pride and pleasure in instilling a love of the outdoors in girls and other leaders. In addition to paddling she enjoys hiking, camping, gardening, snow skiing and animal rescue. Cathy can often be found on the Moutains-to-Sea trail or Kerr Lake. Her favorite Frog Hollow trips are the Paddle Under the Stars and Exploring NC river trips. When she is not working for Frog Hollow her favorite paddling trips are the Three Rivers Area and Tuckaseegee and Cashie Rivers as well as a few places she calls her "secret spots".
Natasha Teasley - Operations Guru & Jane of all Trades
Tasha is a Durham native. She is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management with a concentration in Outdoor Leadership and Instruction, and is a member and alumni of the Wilderness Education Association. Although she was an active Girl Scout growing up it wasn’t until she joined the Canoe and Kayak team (on a dare) in college that she discovered her love of paddling. The next year she was helping teach for the team. Since then Tasha has guided caving and backpacking trips in the western part of North Carolina, as well as paddling trips all over the state. Her favorite Frog Hollow trips have been the overnights on Lake Jocassee and in the lower Roanoke River basin. Even though she has drifted in and out as staff since 2004, she is happy to be back “home”. When she isn’t in the office or on trips with Frog Hollow she enjoys photography, snow skiing, all things New Orleans, and playing dress up with and throwing sticks for her rescue pit bull, Dove.
Rainbow Teasley - Lead Guide, Instructor, and Camp Programs Coordinator
Rainbow is a certified Recreational Therapist. She spent her childhood summers at Girl Scout Camp Graham on Kerr Lake, eventually becoming a staff member at camp, teaching canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and swimming. Rainbow graduated from Durham School of the Arts and Western Carolina University with a degree in Recreational Therapy. Rainbow brings to Frog Hollow years of experience as camp staff and a true love of the water. Her other interests include; cooking, gardening, singing, playing in the mud, baby sitting and playing with kids, and spending time with family