Staff Stories

The Desert DAWN Instructors are chosen for their depth of knowledge and experience.   We strive to provide you with professional instructors who live and teach the skills.   When it comes to outdoor skills there is no replacement for time on the ground – not books, not youtube videos, not reality television – it is necessary to get your hands dirty to get the skill and knowledge.  Though all of our instructors are appreciative of the fact that learning outdoor skills and nature knowledge is a life time vocation you can be assured that they are not new to the profession of outdoor education.

We want you to have familiarity with the people  who will present your course.  On this page you will find an introduction to each of our instructors.  You will also find links to their individual pages that have a more of their story.  We hope you enjoy their stories for they all  have interesting backgrounds.

How We Came Together

Mike Ryan and Jeff Sanders have been good friends since meeting in Boulder, Utah in 2000.  They first guided together in the summer of 2001.  Mike was Jeff’s primary mentor in many areas; woodcraft, guiding, gardening and construction to name a few.  Over the years, they have spent many days in the field together either teaching courses, hunting or on family outings.   Carrie Ryan met Jeff in 2000 as well.  Carrie mentored jeff in the homesteading skills, particularly in the skills of food preservation.  Jeff spent many days with the Ryan family learning to store all forms of food.   Matt Furches and Jeff met in 2010.  Matt and Jeff have had many opportunities to teach together.  They also enjoy taking personal adventures to explore the canyons of the Escalante River.


Mike Ryan

Mike Ryan

Mike is one of the few people who has be involved with outdoor education for more than a quarter of a century.  When the world was moving to high tech in the early 80’s Mike recognized the value of nature in one’s life and dedicated his life to sharing nature with others and allowing them to experience this value first hand. Read more…

Jeff Sanders

IMG_0108 Jeff Sanders followed the path well traveled from High School, garnering a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Masters of Business Administration degree and a Law degree.  Soon after entering the “real world” he heard the path less traveled calling. In the midst of changing paths he found his true passion, teaching about nature using basic camping technologies.  Read more…

Matt Furches

Matt Furches

Matt Furches found his love of nature as a child growing up in rural Southeastern Pennsylvania.  This region is Amish country, where self-sufficiency and an inter-dependent lifestyle are the tenants of life. Matt’s childhood dreams included living the life of a native scout or the likes of Natty Bumppo, “Hawkeye” in Last of the Mohicans. Obtaining the skills of living from the land with little in the way of gear were his aspirations. Learning the ways of nature was the path toward these aspirations.  Read more…

Come home to nature, it welcomes you.

Join us at Desert DAWN for a re-awakening of woodcraft skills.    Gain a new perspective and appreciation for the gifts of nature through woodcraft camping skills and an old-school camping experience.

Explore More:

Woodcraft Camping Courses               Custom Excursions                Family Excursions               Day Hikes
What is Woodcraft Camping?              Woodcraft Skills – Our Core Curriculum
Vision and Mission        Contact Us          Staff Stories

2 Responses to Staff Stories

  1. Steve Watts says:

    Good work, my friend…Happy Trails. Steve Watts

    • Thanks Steve,

      I am enjoying researching this project. Just came across a great book about a guide named Dave Rust who guided in southern Utah during the early 1900’s. Enjoyable read particularly since he was one of the first guides in the Grand Canyon, Southern Utah and on the Aquarius Plateau. I will probably be asking you many gear type questions whenever I see you.


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