Scott Fisher
Founder & Instructor

A long-time resident of Northeast Tennessee, Scott has a deep affection and appreciation for the mountains and rivers of the region that he calls home. A former Army Infantry officer and graduate of Airborne and Ranger schools, he went on to successful corporate careers before deciding to combine his passion for the outdoors with his love of teaching to found NOLI. He is the former Safety and Education Chairperson for the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts and has been instructing whitewater kayaking and swiftwater rescue for close to 15 years, during which time he has taught hundreds of adults, youth and rescue professionals.

Viki Austin
Canoe & Art Instructor

Although Viki has been canoeing since she was a kid, her most intense period of boating has been since 2012. Since then, canoeing has taken her to the most amazing places: the Southeast’s finest class 3 and 4 creeks, the jungle rivers of Costa Rica, the rivers of the Colorado Rockies and the Middle Fork of the Salmon. She's passionate about sharing the art of canoeing with folks who are just getting started, as well as helping experienced canoeists gain the skills and confidence they need to run harder whitewater and creeks. Teaching, for her, is a way to help create learning experiences for others, to share what she's learned, to honor those who have done the same for her, to grow the sport and to show gratitude for the amazing ways boating has helped shape her life.

Jeremy Gass
Ops Mgr & Instructor

Jeremy is fascinated with white water and loves any day he gets the chance to spend outdoors. He's been lucky enough to run some of the most challenging rivers in the country and has enjoyed countless overnight trips out of kayaks, canoes, and backpacking. He's constantly dreaming of things he wants to accomplish next and always searching for ways to make those very dreams come true both for himself and others. Whether showing folks down his favorite rivers, being heavily involved with swift water rescue, or just taking a good old fashioned river trip, he has enjoyed helping others get the most out of their experience and is looking forward to helping you chase after what you love doing too.

Wesley Bradley
Kayak Instructor

Wesley R. Bradley has been a paddler since 1994, member of Team Jackson Kayak since 2006 and the Tri-Cities World Kayak Ambassador since 2007.  He is a lifelong resident of Elizabethton, TN and he loves to play outdoors in his local region with his adventurous wife.  He works as an architectural designer and project manager during the work week in Kingsport, TN.  Most other times you can find him shredding on his alpine skis, smashing berms on his mountain bike, cranking out some miles on his road bike or riding whitewater in his kayak!  He is passionate about sharing these many outdoor adventures with others for over a decade now.

Debbie Briscoe
Kayak Instructor

Debbie Briscoe is a native resident of TN and has enjoyed the outdoors most of her life. She started kayaking more than 20 years ago and strives to help others to break into the sport to enjoy it as much as she does. She has been a trip leader for beginner trips and weekend kayak outings with the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts Club and is currently the Class I-II/ Touring Trip Coordinator. In her spare time you can find Deb riding her motorcycle, hiking and hammock camping and she enjoys campfire Dutch Oven cooking and multi day kayak camping expeditions. 

Brad Eldridge
Canoe, Kayak & Self-Defense Instructor

Brad has been drawn to the outdoors since childhood. From playing in the creek behind his childhood home, his interests grew into hiking throughout the Southwest, Grand Canyon, and Colorado Wilderness, technical rock climbing, and whitewater canoeing and kayaking. Being outside has always been a source of renewal, reflection, and recreation. Brad holds a degree in Forestry, and he worked several seasons for the Forest Service in Wilderness and Recreation management. He then made a professional shift and has been in private chiropractic practice since 1999. He is also a second degree black belt and instructor in Aikido, and an ACA certified L3 kayak instructor. As an instructor, Brad enjoys making the complex, simple. Skill progression is built on strong fundamentals!

Kayla Carter
Leave No Trace Instructor
Sammy Norris
Survival Instructor

Kayla is the Outdoor Development Manager for NETREP. Make sure you call Kayla by her trail name – Blossom – when she is hiking on the Appalachian Trail. She earned that trail name during her successful completion of the entire AT in 2014. Since then, Kayla has spent most weekends either maintaining her three-mile section of the AT along the Elk River, keeping it rubber side down on some local mountain bike trails or playing cover songs on her ukulele. She received her LNT Master Educator certification in 2018 at Lees-McCrae College.

Sammy Norris is a native of the Southern Appalachian mountains and grew up loving the outdoors; helping his family build a log cabin in the woods near Flag Pond, Tennessee, hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail every year with siblings and friends, volunteering for the ATC as a member on the S.W.E.A.T. crew, and traveling west to teach summer camps. When Sammy is not on the trails or teaching survival courses, he is honing his primitive skills, building shelters, going on walkabouts, tanning animal hides and studying regional plant and animal life to add to his Smoky Earth Skills YouTube channel. Sammy enjoys woodworking, blacksmithing, and primitive hunting and he completed his certification as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) in 2019.

Kerry Porché
Pottery Instructor

A native of Louisiana, potter Kerry Porché opened Porché Pottery Studio in Erwin, TN in 2010. Kerry and his family moved to TN after receiving his MFA from Ohio University. A fixture at regional festivals and shows, Kerry has attended sessions at Penland School of Crafts, worked as an apprentice to North Carolina potter Matt Jones, assisted Master Potter Bill van Gilder with workshops and teaches functional pottery at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough, TN. For more on Kerry check out this article here or go to his Facebook page here.

David Ramsey
Photography & Conservation Instructor

Photographer, writer and conservation advocate, David Ramsey was born and grew up in the southern Appalachian mountains of Unicoi County, TN. A few minutes of talking with David are all it takes to discern his deep connection to this region, where his family on both sides has lived for generations. His photographic art expresses a vision of the Appalachian landscape that could only have grown from such deep roots. David’s main passion is the use of his photography, speaking and writing to contribute to the preservation of the wild lands and waters of the southern mountain region. He is the recipient of the National Hero of Conservation Award for his leadership in preserving the Rocky Fork watershed and has had one of his landscape photographs selected by the East Tennessee History Museum for the 10x12 foot entrance image for its Voices of the Land exhibit. His work has been published locally, regionally and nationally in support of conservation. He lives in Unicoi, TN with his wife, Mallene, a short hike from one of his favorite trout streams.

Joe Pyle
Backpacking Instructor

Joe Pyle is a native East Tennessean and loves the Southern Appalachian mountains.  He began backpacking as a teenager and was immediately hooked.  Later, as the backpacking resource lead at a summer camp, he introduced many young people to backpacking.  Joe continues to share his love of being on the trail with anyone who will take time to listen.  He is an avid DIY gear maker, constructing his own hammocks, tarps, stoves, quilts, backpacks, etc.  The simplicity of life that can be experienced backpacking is something he loves to share with others.

Bill Schooley
Kayak Instructor

Bill has always been a boater.  He built his first boat, a hideously ugly raft, when he was 10 years old, and floated it in a polluted farm pond in Kansas.  And loved it.   When he found out about kayaking, it was 1979 and it was hard to find kayaks or gear for sale. He didn't know anybody who paddled a kayak so built his own boat out of fiberglass and his paddle out of a two by four and some plywood scraps. His mom sewed a sprayskirt for him and he hit the river.  Fun? Oh heck yeah!  Safe? Oh heck no.  But here is something he found out: the better your skills are, the more fun it is on the water.  The more you practice safe boating, the more fun it is to boat. Bill enjoys helping folks learn how to boat safely and well.  Fun?  Oh heck yeah. 

Ryan Shealy
Kayak Instructor

Ryan is from Blountville, TN and started kayaking in the summer of 2007 on the Watauga River. Shortly thereafter he started paddling the Nolichucky river with the Appalachian Paddle Enthusiasts and as his experience progressed he decided he wanted to share his skills with others who were interested in learning how to paddle. So he pursued his Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor certification  through the American Canoe Association in 2013 and has been teaching ever since.  He's excited to now be instructing with NOLI and is looking forward to passing on his skills to new boaters with an emphasis on safety and fun!

Jerry Smith
WFA & CPR Instructor

Jerry Smith is a native to this area where he grew up in the outdoors. His career as a professional firefighter has made him safety centered, and he loves teaching new students to be prepared. He is certified through ASHI to teach wilderness first aid, CPR, Basic First Aid, oxygen administration, and AED. He started raft guiding in 2014 where he fell in love with whitewater. He slowly started getting into whitewater kayaking in 2016 and has progressed to where he is today, enjoying many of the local class 3-4 runs. His greatest Joy however is his wife and kids. When he's not teaching, kayaking, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, guiding rafts, playing golf, camping, hanging out with family, or working at the Fire Department, you can find him at home asleep.

© 2018 by Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute