Staff & Board
Northern Susitna Institute Staff
Betsy Smith, Executive Director
Betsy brings diverse experience working with non-profits, nonformal education, and partnerships throughout the country, primarily within the field of environmental education. Her experience is supported by an M.Ed. in Environmental Education and she also serves as an Adjunct with the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Sophie Hainline, AmeriCorps Member
Sophie working to enhance afterschool programming to the Upper Susitna Valley. She is a graduate of the University of Montana, with Environmental Studies and Nonprofit Administration majors. She previously worked in Talkeetna as an NSI Summer Program Instructor and an Alaska Nature Guides Naturalist.
Tia Shoemaker, Field Adventure Coordinator
Tia has lead trips through Denali State Park, Denali National Park, Lake Clark Pass, Baja, California, and summer camps in Talkeetna, Alaska. Her background is in therapeutic recreation and she is also a fishing and hunting guide in remote Alaska, and enjoys traveling the globe.
Board of Directors
Joe Page, President
For the past 30 years, Joe has been one of our community’s most active visionaries. He is a retired teacher, founder of NSI and the Denali Arts Council, founding chair of the Talkeetna Community Council, served as chairman of the Talkeetna Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, and co-founder of the CEAL Academy.
Erin Aulman, Vice President
Erin has been an educational leader in the Talkeetna community for over thirty years, serving as principal of Talkeetna Elementary School for twenty years and as the founder and first board president of Northern Susitna Institute. Her energy and passion for life-long learning is an inspiration for all.
Barb Mannix, Secretary
Barb has been an active member of the Talkeetna community for more than 30 years, with a passion for natural history outdoor adventure, gardening, books, and theater. She works as a medical assistant at the Sunshine Community Health Center in Talkeetna.
Jim Graupmann, Treasurer
In his capacity as a captain for Atlas Airlines, Jim flies freight and passengers around the world. When home in Talkeetna, Jim has been an involved community member by grooming ski trails, maintaining hockey rinks, and has been the catalyst and inspiration for the creation of folk art programs held at NSI.
Sarah Kehoe, Board Member
Born in Britain, Sarah moved to Alaska at age 23 to Fairbanks and eventually, to Talkeetna. She worked at Sunshine Community Health Center in its early days, and is mother to three teenagers. She believes in fair and equal access to nature, good education, excellent healthcare, meaningful work, and strong community.
Ashley Kaso, Board Member
Ashley graduated from the University of Connecticut and came to Talkeetna with the intent of spending just a summer working at Talkeetna River Guides. Fast forward 14 years and she’s still working for TRG as general manager. She loves to travel, and in doing so has come to believe that she lives in one of the best communities around!
Mark Wildermuth, Board Member
Mark has been enjoying Alaska for more than 30 years as a rafting, fishing and dog mushing guide (finishing 22nd as a rookie in the 1995 Iditarod). Recently, he has enjoyed the challenge of developing Denali Zipline Tours, Talkeetna Camper Park, and the Wildflower Café/Main Street Suite with a commitment to environmentally-conscience development.
Scott Patridge, Board Member
Among Scott’s background credits are teacher, Eagle Scout, raft guide, and intrepid world traveler. He works as a ski instructor at Alyeska during the winter months and for Talkeetna River Guides in during the summer.