Team Building, Women’s Courses and GEMS Camp
Dina was born in California and raised in both Chicago and Roanoke. For as long as she can remember, Dina has loved the outdoors for all the fun that recreation offers and for all that nature can teach us. She most enjoys hiking, backpacking, canoeing, skiing on both snow and water, and rock climbing, although she is always open to trying new activities and adding to her list of outdoor interests!
Dina’s career began in the corporate world, where she trained and coached sales staffs around the country. Over 25 years, she has gained experience in coaching, developing, and leading teams in business environments. Aside from recreation, Dina’s outdoor background and skill set grew significantly as she was trained to teach wilderness survival by a former U.S. Air Force SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) instructor beginning in 2006. During her early survival training and teaching experiences, Dina realized how many parallels exist between practical survival skills in the backcountry and social or professional situations in the “front-country.” She dove deep into these connections, and she resurfaced feeling more self-aware, more confident and courageous in the outdoors, and more motivated than ever to lead outdoor experiences and share the lessons they offer with others.
As the owner of Mountain Shepherd Adventure School, Dina brings to every course and adventure an incredible combination of skills and positivity that are a result of her corporate coaching experience, her love for outdoor recreation, and over a decade of high-quality survival training. Dina’s greatest satisfaction comes from sharing her own drive for adventure and journey to empowerment with others. Her unique curriculum based on those same parallels she realized years ago has changed the lives of all of her students, who range from corporate professionals to young families, and from empty-nesters to college undergraduates.
Jon Guy Owens
Jon Guy Owens is a native of western North Carolina and has been working in adventure recreation for just over 20 year. Jon Guy graduated from Western Carolina University in 1997 with a degree in Recreation Therapy, and went on to get a Master’s in Experiential and Environmental Studies at Radford University in 2000. He started his journey as a raft guide on the Nantahala River in 1994 and has since worked teaching rock climbing, canoe and kayak paddling, caving and fly fishing to name a few. For the last 20 years Jon Guy has been working as the Director of the Hollins Outdoor Program at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA.
Dani Derringer was raised in Roanoke, VA. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Math from the prestigious College of William and Mary. Graduate school led her home to Roanoke at Hollins University. While earning her Masters of Arts in Teaching, she learned from and worked with the Hollins Outdoor Program (HOP). Dani quickly started working as a trip leader.
Dani’s first job took her to the Chesapeake Bay area to teach at a boarding school. She taught math class, facilitated study hall on dorm, coached swimming, and co-lead River Immersion. Dani enjoyed spending time after school teaching students to canoe and fish in the Rappahannock wetlands.
In addition to teaching and exploring the outdoors, Dani loves to travel. She had the opportunity to travel to five continents on a variety of personal and professional trips.
Growing up camping and spending time outdoors in Kentucky, Susan realized she wanted to have a career working with people outdoors. She earned a degree in Recreation and Park Administration from Eastern Kentucky University and also a Master’s degree from the University of Georgia in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Susan is a Wilderness First Responder who has worked in outdoor and adventure recreation for over 20 years in a variety of areas ranging from summer camps to campus outdoor recreation to municipal recreation.
She has over 15 years of experience facilitating groups of all ages and enjoys helping groups function as a more cohesive unit. One of her favorite past-times is long-distance backpacking, with Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail, and Long Trail thru-hikes under her belt. With two little kiddos at home now, she enjoys introducing her children to the wonders of the natural world through hiking, biking, paddling, and wandering adventures. Her favorite quote is “The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences. “ – Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild.
Born in the Roanoke valley, Claire grew up hiking, biking, and paddling all over Southwest Virginia and beyond. As a teenager, she attended GEMS Camp at Mountain Shepherd for six summers, learning how to be courageous, confident, and compassionate in both the back country and the front country. Claire volunteered for various local organizations throughout middle and high school where she learned leadership, business, and teaching skills. She graduated high school in spring of 2022 and decided to take time off from school to explore the world. As a camp counselor for GEMS, Claire enjoys both leading and learning at Mountain Shepherd!
Kayla has called both Virginia Beach and Wise County, Virginia “home,” though she feels at home wherever she can be outdoors.
In 2016, Kayla graduated from Hollins University with a B.A. in both Environmental Studies and Sociology, along with a certificate in Leadership Studies from the Batten Leadership Institute. At Hollins, she participated in the Hollins Outdoor Program, the campus community garden, student government, the First Year Seminar experience, and the equestrian program. She also gained plenty of experiential education experience during 5 months of studying abroad with The School for Field Studies in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Costa Rica.
Outdoor experiences just for girls are near and dear to her heart, as Kayla has been a Girl Scout and a two-time counselor at an all-girls camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Kayla has a passion for empowerment and education in outdoor spaces that has been inspired by recent experiences like Dina Imbriani’s “Survival for the Modern World” course for Hollins students, completion of the Wilderness First Responder certification, and time spent as an environmental educator and canoeing instructor by the Chesapeake Bay. She enjoys bringing backcountry lessons into the “front-country” whenever possible.
Maria Vest is from southern Maryland and pursuing a Biology degree at Hollins University. During her first year, she became involved with the Hollins Outdoor Program and has since become a trip leader and member of the downriver racing team. She has led many hiking trips and the wilderness orientation trip for incoming freshman students at Hollins. As an experienced rider, Maria is also a member of the equestrian program. Maria earned her Wilderness First Aid certification in March 2018.