Our Instructors

Meet Your Instructors

SOLO instructors are active, professional healthcare providers who serve on mountain rescue squads, fire departments, ambulance squads, ski patrols, and more. They are experienced, creative teachers who provide a relaxed, team-oriented, and inspiring learning environment. With wide-ranging life experiences, many are outdoor experts in almost any wilderness setting. All instructors are trained by SOLO for the specific courses that they teach.

Brooks Wolfe


Brooks Wolfe

Brooks Wolfe has over 10 years of experience as an outdoor educator and guide. Brooks started by teaching and leading whitewater kayaking trips for the University of Tennessee Medical School outdoor recreation department and for several local kayaking clubs. He found his passion and quickly worked to become an ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructor. He moved out West and while continuing to teach kayaking, also became a head river guide leading multi-day river trips on the Colorado, Gunnison, Green, White, Deloris, and many other rivers. He has a passion for primitive skills/wilderness survival and has spent time learning and instructing from the Western deserts of Southern Utah to the Appalachian mountains of the Southeast. Brooks is a lead instructor at SOLO and currently holds a North Carolina Advanced EMT certification as well as Wilderness EMT.

Jono Bryant


Jonathan "Jono" Bryant

Jonathon (Jono) Bryant is a paramedic with 12 years of experience as an expedition leader and jungle specialist. Jono started his SOLO career as a Wilderness EMT student at the NH campus where he rapidly progressed to become a lead instructor. As well as teaching for SOLO Southeast he is also the director of a medical relief charity, teaching first aid, and providing healthcare throughout the world. He has taken teams of SOLO alumni to the jungles of Borneo and remote villages in Central America. Jono is committed to providing exciting, entertaining, and informative lessons that help students make a difference.

Shelby Lott


Shelby Lott

Shelby has been a long time lover of the woods and anything wild. She grew up in Montana, moved to North Carolina, and found an outdoor program called TAASC that fostered her passion for adventure. She is an avid climber and trail runner, even running track and cross country for UNC Asheville. She received her WEMT through SOLO Southeast. After earning her national and state licensure she joined the national Ski Patrol in which she is still very active. She is a SAR tech II, MTR level II, and an OEC technician. She combines her passions for medicine and wilderness all year long.



JP Bevilaqua

JP Belivaqua has spent the last 15 years as a professional outdoor educator and guide. He has been an instructor with SOLO since 2009. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he worked in the Rockies for 10 years as a river guide, EMT, and professional ski patroller in both Colorado and Utah. In 2007 he moved to Asheville, NC which he now calls home. Since that time, he has coordinated wilderness programming for various organizations at both the high school and college level, specializing in risk management practices and a systems-based approach to trip leading in the outdoors. He is an Instructor Trainer with American Canoe Association, has twice qualified for the US National Kayaking team, and has paddled in 7 countries and over 20 US states. When not on the river, he is also an avid mountain biker, skier, and rock climber.



Victoria Contreras

Victoria is a graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a double Bachelor's Degree in Biology and Psychology. She is working toward her goal of becoming a Physician Assistant with the dream of one day combining her medical and expedition skills to provide aid to at-risk areas around the world. Victoria is currently an Advanced EMT in downtown Atlanta and takes off whenever she can on new adventures. In her free time, Victoria can be seen climbing in places like Yosemite, taking her dogs on adventures throughout the Southeast, or leading freshmen through the backcountry of Iceland and Alaska. Victoria loves anything wild AND medical, making her a great fit as a SOLO instructor.

Ken Philbrick


Ken Philbrick

Ken served as a medic in the US Army for five years and deployed twice to Iraq. After leaving the Army, he earned a BA in History at Columbia University and completed a pre-medical program at Johns Hopkins University. He earned his Wilderness EMT certification at SOLO Southeast and has been a Wilderness Medicine Instructor for three years. An avid backpacker, Ken has hiked the Appalachian Trail and Colorado Trail. He plans to begin medical school in 2019.



Randy Manuel

Randy's diverse background includes 10 years in the US Army, three years in Public Safety, and a career in Orthopedics, Orthotics, and Prosthetics. Love of the outdoors ultimately brought him to the NOC & SOLO. He works frequently as a river guide, trail guide, and even team medic for the local Roller Derby team. Randy is an active volunteer with Valleytown Fire & Rescue near his home town in Marble, NC. Recent certifications & training include Tactical Combat Casualty Care, Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support, Wildland Firefighter, and Swiftwater Rescue Professional. Randy does not employ a "normal" teaching style. Describing himself as an average and uninterested student throughout high school, insisting this is advantageous to his instructing. "My best moments teaching have been when a student tells me that in spite of their learning disabilities, they truly understood the material because of how I presented it. That is my drive, not the praise, but to be able to make these classes understandable and enjoyable to anyone interested." After work, Randy can be found hiking, mountain biking, or SUP boarding with his lovely fiancee Jae Jackson (who also works at NOC), and their Blue Heeler, Jefe.



Vincent Sorrento

Vincent is a Virginia native, growing up in Shenandoah National Park and learning to love the outdoors from an early age. However, it was in Southwest Virginia, near the Appalachian Trail, that he truly started to build his outdoor resume while grinding through engineering school at Virginia Tech. There, he fell in love with scuba diving, mountains, and climbing. Following a short career in motorsport, Vincent traveled to SOLO Southeast in the winter of 2017 for a WEMT-Intensive course. He has been instructing Wilderness First Aid since Spring 2017 after obtaining National Registry and NC State EMT licensure. He incorporates his EMT skills in his teaching, outdoor guiding of rivers and waterfalls in WNC, and in the depths as a Diver Medical Technician. In addition to WEMT and DMT, he is a SAR Tech III, FAA Remote Pilot, ACA Single-Pitch Canyon Guide, and Whitewater Rafting Guide. Furthermore, Vincent looks to integrate unmanned aerial drones into Search & Rescue operations and medical delivery, combining his passions for engineering, outdoors, aviation, and medical to make backcountry life around the world safer for all to enjoy.

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Nurse Practitioner

Lara Christy

Lara is a nurse practitioner specializing in Cardiology. She first became a WEMT in 1996 while finishing her MS in Experiential Education. She worked with at-risk youth in a wilderness program in South Carolina and later pursued a degree in Nursing. Lara worked as a nurse in St. Louis for 10 years in an intensive care unit, and in a level 1 Trauma Emergency Department. She has enjoyed wilderness sports such as backpacking, orienteering, whitewater kayaking, and trail running all of her life. Her love for wild places brought her to Western North Carolina in 2010. Since that time, she has worked as a nurse practitioner, and has honed her whitewater kayaking and Swiftwater Rescue skills. She enjoys combining her love for medicine, wilderness, and education in order to help others build their skills and knowledge so that they may explore and enjoy wild places safely. Lara is currently working to become a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.



Anthony Geist

Anthony is a nationally registered Wilderness AEMT and doctoral student in Comparative Experimental Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He began his medical career as an outdoor guide for rock climbing and kayaking trips in Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. He received his WEMT from SOLO Southeast and has since served as a medical provider and instructor on expeditions to Belize and Panama, in addition to instructing SOLO. Anthony is a member of the National Park Service associated Backcountry Search and Rescue Unit (BUSAR), where he serves as a SAR Tech II, Swiftwater, and High Angle Rescue Technician. When not studying or providing medicine, he can usually be found climbing, kayaking, or biking and planning his next expedition.

allan ange


Allan Ange

Allan has spent a lifetime playing and guiding in the Southeastern mountains. He has worked as a climbing instructor and counselor for at risk youth, and has spent years teaching climbing, caving, and backpacking. He first stumbled through NOC while hiking on the Appalachian Trail through North Carolina and Georgia in 1994. Later that year, he attended SOLO's WEMT course at NOC. Allan earned a BS from Southern Illinois University with a concentration in Ecology, Environment, and Evolution. After college, he worked for the USFS and the National Park Service where he performed plant research and worked on fire crews in Oregon and South Dakota. Allan started working at NOC in 2010 in the Outfitter's Store and Adventure Park. In his spare time, Allan enjoys his lifelong passion of rock climbing and his more recent hobby: wrangling a rambunctious child in the wild! Allen currently holds a North Carolina Paramedic certification as well as a WEMT certification.

Wilderness survival 1 course


Jeffrey Gottlieb

Jeffrey has been a senior instructor of NOC's Wilderness Survival School since October of 2012. He has an MS in Biology and has been a Naturalist, Outdoor Educator, and Primitive Skills Instructor for more than 30 years. Jeff has built over 50 full-size wigwams and longhouses at museums, nature centers, and schools using wild-collected materials such as tree bark slabs, reeds, and saplings. His areas of special interest include fiber arts, flintknapping, basketry, edible and utilitarian plants, and nature awareness. Jeff has even written three books as a self-published author and travels the Eastern US teaching at rendezvous, gatherings, and historic fairs. Jeff goes to the woods not to "rough it", but to "smooth it", believing that many of us have it rough enough in town at our jobs. He seeks communion, education, enjoyment, creative outlet, and peace in nature.

Stephan Hart 3


Stephan Hart

Stephan's favorite place to be is on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. When he's not doing that, he is an instructor of Wilderness Medicine, Swiftwater Rescue, and Wilderness Survival. He is a guide on all the rivers that NOC runs and trains many guides each year in the spring. Stephan has studied plants since he was 8 years old, including studying botany in college, and is certified as a Southern Appalachian Naturalist. He enjoys traveling to see plants and culture, whether it be in the US or abroad.



Bailey O'Sullivan

Bailey is a WEMT, works at SOLO as an instructor, and operates behind the scenes in the SOLO office as well. She has worked at NOC since 2011, spending her time both in the Outfitter's Store equipping paddlers and thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, and as a whitewater kayak instructor in the NOC Paddling School. She started whitewater kayaking as a kid and soon started racing slalom and downriver kayaks, even earning a spot on the US Junior Wildwater National Team and racing in Italy at the Wildwater Junior World Championships. While studying International Affairs and Spanish at Georgia Tech, she guided backpacking trips in Alaska and several multi-sport trips in the Southeast with ORGT, Georgia Tech's awesome outdoor program. She loves traveling and has even worked in Patagonia, Chile, guiding at an eco-resort. Her certifications include ACA Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor and Advanced Swiftwater Rescue. Teaching is her passion, whether in the classroom or on the river.

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