Program Staff

Meet the talented crew of Youth Leadership Adventures staff!

Neal Smeltzer
Youth Leadership Manager
Born in Vermont, Neal grew up with a love for wandering around the local woods, lakes and mountains. While attending Colorado College, he realized his love for education. Combining these passions, Neal worked for a number of nonprofits and completed a master’s degree in Outdoor Education at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to arriving in the North Cascades, he instructed dogsledding expeditions for Outward Bound across the frozen lakes of northern Minnesota. Neal enjoys backcountry skiing, paddling and exploring any new area he can find on a map. He acknowledges how his privilege has enabled access to the outdoors, and through this work is committed to promoting equity and justice as they relate to outdoor places

Julia Sachs
Youth Leadership Coordinator
Julia grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and spent her summers canoeing and sailing on the lakes in northern Minnesota. After a few summers of leading trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area for a summer camp, she discovered her passion for educating in the outdoors and decided to attend Western Colorado University for a B.A. in Recreation Outdoor Education to further her experience. After graduating, she instructed backpacking, whitewater and canoeing courses for the Voyageur Outward Bound School in Big Bend, Texas. The outdoors have been a place of growth and curiosity for Julia since a young age. There is so much to learn about this world and ourselves, and she is excited about bringing people into outdoor spaces at North Cascades Institute so they can form their own experiences, learnings and memories.