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Samantha McNearney

As a child, Samantha loved being outside and watching wildlife. Seeing living things in nature thrilled her and ultimately inspired her to earn a biology degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her ultimate goal was to work with bears, but when she landed a job as a natural history guide leading tours to Arctic Alaska, Samantha learned she enjoyed interpreting nature for others as much as watching wildlife on her own. Since she landed her first guiding job in 1994, she has also trained guides and worked in tourism marketing in Alaska. In 2000, Samantha achieved her lifelong goal of working with grizzly bears when she became a guide with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Wildlife Conservation Division at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary—a position she held for four full seasons and continues in part-time. Nat Hab is thrilled to tap Samantha’s extensive experience, wealth of knowledge and passion for teaching, which she utilizes in her role as Expedition Leader on our Alaska trips.

Born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina as the daughter of a Green Beret, Samantha traveled a great deal as a child, repeatedly moving with her family across the country and even living in Germany for a stint. Her immersion into nature also started early when she took her first canoe trip in northern Canada at 3 months old. Throughout most of her childhood, she spent several weeks each summer in northern Ontario camping, fishing and swatting mosquitoes. Here she discovered one of her first heroes, an Ojibwa woman named Laura Flood who was the matriarch of dear Canadian family friends and a formidable fishing and hunting guide. Laura greatly influenced Samantha’s life by demonstrating that as a girl, Samantha could do anything she wanted to in the outdoors. Today Samantha is a wife and mother of two. When she isn’t leading guests into the Alaskan wilderness, she likes spending her free time cheering at soccer games, leading her daughter's "rogue" Girl Scout troop, and enjoying date nights with her husband.

Upcoming Adventures with Samantha:

Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari
Northern Lights & Arctic Cultures

Praise from Nat Hab Travelers:

M. Echevarria
"It was a pleasure to travel with Samantha. She combines a great knowledge of her work with kindness and constant care for us. She was always attentive to any detail that could make our trip more comfortable. She was outstanding."

N. May
"Sam went above and beyond to make sure we had a wonderful time. She was a wealth of knowledge and was extremely helpful. She is an excellent guide!"

J. Okamura
"One of the managers at the Churchill Motel asked me who my Expedition Leader was. When I told him it was Samantha, he said, 'Your group got lucky with that one!' Honestly, I would have come to that same conclusion even if he had not mentioned it! Samantha absolutely exceeded my expectations in terms of leading our expedition. She is sooooooo smart and knowledgeable about the region's history, landscape and wildlife, and articulated the information with both intellect and humor. Bottom line is, I ADORE HER!"

D. Beauchamp

"Samantha was a delight, great with all passengers and exhibits abundant enthusiasm for her job and Nat Hab."

T. Dynakowski
"Samantha is a superior person. We saw the northern lights which completed an important life quest for me. Nevertheless, Sam was the highlight of the trip. She's the very best."

L. Farley
"Samantha is indefatigable! Samantha always had alternatives including the 3 hour delay due to a vehicle accident on the highway between Seward and Anchorage. The delay passed quickly when she shared some anthropological information and some very amusing stories. Time never stood still. She identified all flora and fauna by name as well as the impact of climate on the Alaskan environment. She must be eagle eyed to see animals that are mere spots somewhere in the distance. Sure enough, when I used one of my telephoto lens pointed in the right direction, there was the animal in plain sight."

A. Quackenbush
"Samantha was a wonderful guide. Her expertise with bears made us all feel totally safe while at Katmai. She attended to all of our needs, was attentive and told us spectacular stories. She accommodated even the quirkiest of us and made it all wonderfully smooth. She is a gem."

L. Hatfield
"Samantha's knowledge of bears was invaluable in Katmai. She protected us more than once when the bears were in the path. E\She had eyes like an eagle! She was fun, open, fed us very well and handled all the details we have come to expect from Nat Hab."

L. Brashear
"Samantha was a great Expedition Leader. She was engaging, friendly and very informative. Because of her guidance, I never had the slightest fear of the bears of Katmai and was able to thoroughly enjoy every encounter. She is a great ambassador for Alaska and for Natural Habitat Adventures."
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