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Joanna Fonkert

Growing up in New England, Joanna was exposed to the Northeast’s mountains, lakes and oceans at an early age. Though she is clearly an extrovert and loves people, her first love was wildlife. While her friends played tag, Joanna was collecting a gang of frogs, each of whom had a name and personality. Her love for the outdoors flourished over the years. Never far from the water, Joanna spent most of her summer days playing at the town beach on a local lake, where she competed on the swim team. Swim team not only led to Michael Phelps-like arms, but also blossomed into a position as a lifeguard at the beach; she taught swim lessons, coached the swim team, and passed her love of outdoor sports to the next generation as a canoe instructor. At age 16 she embarked on her first multi-day kayak and camping trip in Northern Maine, and it sparked a new vision for what life could look like.

In college, Joanna quickly realized she could combine her passions by sharing her love for the outdoors and teaching others about the world around them. So, she decided to become an outdoor education major. It was easy to study hard for courses she loved—rock climbing, ice climbing and crevasse rescue, winter backpacking and white water canoeing and Wilderness EMT, plus philosophy and ethics. An exchange semester at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau exposed Joanna to the beauty of Alaska. For the next three years Joanna split her time between New Hampshire and Alaska as she earned her bachelor’s in outdoor education and a master’s in elementary education from the University of New Hampshire. She studied during the school year and spent her summers as a guide on the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. After graduation, she immediately began teaching and organizing trips in Alaska.

Joanna has called Alaska her home for the past 12 years. During that time, teaching and guiding has been a way for her to share experiences, show students how to take care of our beautiful planet, and change how the next generation perceives the world around them. She now shares that passion and enthusiasm for Alaska with her Nat Hab's travelers.
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