Natalie Warren grew up in Miami, Florida where she attended the New World School of the Arts for saxophone performance. In 2005, she flew to Minneapolis and headed North to YMCA Camp Menogyn, a wilderness camp based in Minnesota. After a two week canoeing trip in the BWCA, Natalie fell in love with the wilderness and later decided to pursue an Environmental Studies degree at St. Olaf. In 2011, She and Ann Raiho were the first two women to paddle the 2,000 miles from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, following Eric Sevareid's route from Canoeing With the Cree. See

Natalie believes that wilderness adventures help young females reach their full physical and emotional potential. After a year of presenting on her Hudson Bay Bound adventure, she wanted to provide something tangible for her audiences...Hello, Wild River Academy! Natalie loves to dress up as a dog, play music, and manage your hunger level on trail. She has too many finger puppets, if there is such a thing.

Natalie on WRA's Potomac Pilgrimage Trip

Natalie on WRA's Potomac Pilgrimage Trip

Nick Ryan In 2012, Nick graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration, accompanied by minors in Sociology and SCUBA diving. After graduation, he figured he would be a police officer for a while and go from there. Unfortunately for Chicago, Nick was not able to find work in Chicago. His brother Roman put him in touch with Natalie Warren and his life quickly turned upside down.

After many Google Hangouts, Nick moved to Washington DC to help start the business that would become Wild River Academy! Queue the 80's movie montage of intense whiteboard sessions, many blunders, fulfilling trips, and a journey down the Mississippi. Nick finds joy in three to six hour runs, he physically can't not journal every night, and in his opinion there is nothing wrong with learning how to skateboard later in life.

Nick on WRA's Potomac Pilgrimage Trip

Liz Just is a native Wisconsinite, growing up just outside of Madison, WI.  She left home in 2008 to attend school at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she pursued a degree in Environmental Education and Sustainability Studies.  During college, an ongoing love for the outdoors merged with her studies during two off campus experiential education courses, fueling her current passions and interests.  The first, a domestic program in the Twin Cities, broadened her perspectives around different issues such as environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.  The second experience took her halfway around the world to India where she spent six weeks hiking and camping in the Himalayas while studying culture, alpine ecosystems, mountain farming, and sustainability in a developing nation. These experiences led her to a summer and fall guiding wilderness trips in the Midwest with Wilderness Inquiry.

Liz was a member of the Wild River Academy Paddle Forward team, which completed a canoe expedition down the entire Mississippi River.

Liz on the mighty Mississippi.

Liz on the mighty Mississippi.


Garret Eichhorn - grew up in Bethesda, MD where Wild River Academy was originally founded. Upon realizing that Maryland winters aren’t nearly cold enough, he moved out to Saint Paul to attend Macalester College, and is pursuing a B.A in Environmental Studies and Computer Science. Garrett first fell in love with the Minnesota wilderness near his family home in Champlin, MN where he fell head over heels, and often into, the Mississippi River. A nature buff turned football player, Garrett enjoys staying fit, cooking (and eating!) local and sustainable ingredients, jamming out with his friends, and meditating.

Intern Garrett.jpg

Sophie Harris - Born and raised in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Sophie is currently a student at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University studying Mathematics with interests in Economics and Environmental Studies. Sophie’s first large scale wilderness experience was a month long canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness through the Les Voyageur program while she was in high school. This jump started her interest in the outdoors and she has participated in a number of smaller outdoor expeditions since then. Sophie’s environmental interest developed during college and she currently lives in an intentional living house where they practice and teach a sustainable lifestyle on campus. Some of Sophie’s favorite things include elephants, cheese, laughing, and Sudoku.

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