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Our Trip Leaders

 

Ian Zatarain

Founder

Trip Leader 

WFA & WFR Instructor

Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician

WEMT Cert. (240hrs + medical training)


Outdoor Educator

(The Athenian School & Chadwick International School)


6-12th Grade Social Studies Teacher 

Leave No Trace Trainer

Professional Facilitator of Group Experiences


Permaculture Designer

B.S. Tourism and Outdoor Leadership (International Ecotourism)

A.A. Cultural Anthropology/Archaeology

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ian discovered a love for travel and cultural anthropology while studying at Foothill College. At the age of 18, he participated in an archaeology field study in Belize where students were immersed in the local culture and buried ruins of the ancient Maya civilization. After the trip, Ian had further interests to pursue a life of authentic experience and adventure which led him to Oregon State University in Bend, Oregon. During his time in university, he studied how to be a professional trip leader in the U.S. and abroad. While living in Central Oregon, he continued to develop a passion for backcountry backpacking, rock climbing, trail-running, and ski mountaineering/snowboarding. 


Currently, Ian works as an Outdoor Educator in California and Korea for the Athenian School, Chadwick International and the Crossroads School of Arts and Science. Within these programs, students have the opportunity to learn how to rock climb and backpack for up to 26 days while living in nature. As well, Ian teaches wilderness medicine on the western coast of the U.S. to help students gain valuable emergency first aid skills. After working professionally for eight years, he found himself exploring South America and Southeast Asia living with indigenous communities, contributing to sustainable agricultural projects and discovering rock-climbing areas. He has worked extensively with eco-friendly climbing resorts and seed-saving centers in Thailand and Colombia to spread sustainable agriculture and ecotourism. 

In 2019, Guardian Cultural Expeditions and Wilderness Medicine launched after seven years of research and planning. Ian strives to offer transformative travel experiences to the general public while imparting hands-on first aid knowledge.

Nicholas Jump

Trip Leader

Wilderness First Responder

B.S. Early Interdisciplinary Studies

Leave No Trace Trainer

Nick first discovered the power and restorative nature of the wilderness while spending his summers in the Catskills of upstate New York with his brother, sister, and father; hiding from the heat of Texas. During his time in New York, he learned how nature connected him deeply to the world which helped him develop a general sense of "stewardship" for the Earth by living in harmony with nature. During his early formative years of school, he always felt that he had the special ability to connect with others in a positive way. Throughout the school, teachers invited him to visit, help, teach and play with the students in the younger grades, especially the ones that had difficulty connecting with other students. Nick's inherent gift eventually led him to Texas state where he acquired his teaching degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. At the end of his four years of college, Nick realized that he was shocked and disillusioned with the collegiate system in the United States. He hoped to find thriving energy, passion and creativity during the years in college but instead saw a system that conditioned and controlled students in a stagnate environment of complacency. During this pivotal life-reflection, he learned what he really valued was the importance of hard work, collaboration, and family. Rather than continuing with his degree to work full-time as a classroom teacher, Nick reimagined his goals and the career path he wanted to live. He realized that his deep personal mission was to bring students into the outdoors, help them reconnect with nature in order for them to see their highest self.


Nick started his outdoor education career in Maine on the campus of the Leadership School at Kieve. While in Maine, he instructed students for two years teaching responsible decision making, how to build/maintain healthy relationships and social competency. After his time at Kieve, Nick decided he wanted to have a career that allowed him to be in the wilderness full-time. He participated in the NOLS outdoor educators course to further his skills as a teacher and began working throughout California for several different private schools. Over the years, Nick gained valuable experience leading young adults into many remote areas of the National Parks across the country. He currently spends his summer and spring instructing students on a 26-day intensive backpacking trip in Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks. The students on the courses he leads are taken out of there everyday lives to redefine who they are as a person and what they find important in their lives. While he is not teaching, Nick desires to create experiences where humans feel empowered to rediscover their own divine gifts and learn more in the sacred process of self-discovery.

Nicolette Wagner

Marketing + Photography

Trip Leader

Founder of The .RAW Collection

Leader of The .RAW Experience workshops

Forever a permaculture design student

Through storytelling and photo journalism, Nicolette discovered her purpose & desire to travel, experience, document and share. Originally from the midwest, home grown in Nebraska, Nicolette quickly got the travel itch to experience life outside of the US. She headed out on a 6 month backpacking trip spending time in the Pacific Islands, Asia & Europe. Two of those months were spent on the Big Island of Hawaii gaining permaculture experience while working on a banana, avocado & coffee farm. 


Prior to traveling abroad, Nicolette picked up a camera to document her travels and began to discover a passion buried deep within. With a Bachelors of Science in Design from the college of Architecture & Interior Design of UNL she had a creative & visual side already programmed inside but wasn’t sure how to express or utilize those abilities to their fullest potential nor how to blend the love of travel and outdoor connection. When she came back from her 6 month stint, Nicolette started a photography business that was just rebranded to “the .RAW Collection” that focuses on adventure & experiential sessions capturing raw emotion & storytelling. Most of what she shoots are destination elopements, families, adventure sessions, outdoor product photography, photo storytelling for non profits  + so much more. Her jobs take her to some of the most beautiful places and allow her to meet and experience incredible people along the way. Within the last year she’s gotten to document; a children’s home story in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, plan and photograph elopements across the US & Europe & now down to Colombia with the Guardians team.  

Upon coming back to the states Nicolette & her partner John still craved the nomad life. Together last year they built out a converted 1988 ford van into their full time totally off grid home where they are currently residing in the state of Arizona has a home base with plans to continue move throughout the states. 


Crossing off large goals & shooting for big dreams aren’t a foreign concept to Nicolette. This year especially she’s delving deep and beginning to knock off some things on the list. The summer holds plans of heading back to Hawaii to further her permaculture knowledge as well as taking up another course in the fall down in South America prior to the next Guardians trip. Further down the road, she has high hopes to own and maintain a fully off grid sustainable farm in a jungle paradise. She has goals to continue to grow her photo journalism exposure of gathering knowledge & sharing stories from cultures and peoples she comes in contact with throughout her travels. A documentary is definitely somewhere in that list as well! 


Through own travels, Nicolette knows first hand how important & impactful immersing yourself in cultural experiences can be and how they can shape and mold an individual. With a full heart, she is so grateful to be a part of the Guardians team.