Rooted in Adventure. Rooted in Appalachia.

Meet the Team

APEX began taking shape at Prescott College in 2014, where Alex met co-founder and wife, Libbey Holewski. Together, they developed a program that emphasizes the resilient strengths and spectacular beauty of the Central Appalachian region.

Alex Snyder

Co-Founder / Director / Field Instructor

Alex has deep roots in Davis, West Virginia. His family settled here during the timber boom of the 1890s and early 1900s. Alex has always enjoyed paddling, hiking, and biking in the Central Appalachian region. In 2014, he moved to Prescott, Arizona to pursue a graduate degree in adventure education. Alex’s passion for outdoor adventures inspired him to start APEX, and his education formed the foundation of the program. Alex is a trained Wilderness First Responder, and has led trips for Deer Hill Expeditions, the High Mountain Institute, and the National Youth Science Camp.

Libbey Holewski

Co-Founder / Program Director / Field Instructor

Libbey’s love for the outdoors began in the hardwood forests of the east. She spent her summers playing in creeks, searching for fossils, and cooking over campfires in Cincinnati, Ohio. Libbey headed west for college and spent the next twenty years sharing her passion for wild places through outdoor education—sea kayaking in Alaska, backpacking in the canyons of Utah, and skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. In 2016, she earned a master’s degree in adventure education from Prescott College. While Libbey loves the varying landscapes of the west, she is continuously awed by the four seasons of beauty in West Virginia, and by the deeply rooted connection between the people and the land. She is thrilled to be on this journey with Alex and is patiently awaiting her next chance to play outside! Libbey is a trained Wilderness First Responder, and has led trips for the National Outdoor Leadership School and High Mountain Institute.

Kate Preston

Field Instructor

Kate was born and raised in Canaan Valley, WV. She was on skis before she could walk and on her dad’s back while he skied before that. Snow is her first choice of environment. If it’s not winter, you’ll find her backpacking with APEX, seeking a new place to go sailing, or riding horses and hanging with her dog, Beacon. In 2012, she graduated from Plymouth State University with a Bachelor of Science in Adventure Education. Returned to schooling to attend trade school at the International Yacht Restoration School, finishing their 2 year Wooden Boat Building & Restoration program in 2019. Kate now runs her own woodworking business on the side: Mountains to Water Woodshop. She is a trained Wilderness First Responder, a sailing instructor for NOLS, worked as a Field Instructor for The Mountain Institute, and is stoked to be playing in her hometown mountains and valleys with APEX.

Laura Johnston

Field Instructor

Laura Johnston is local to the Washington DC area. She was born in Germany and has lived in Kenya, Switzerland, Peru and Washington, D.C. Laura earned a masters of liberal studies in human values (MALS) and environmental ethics from Georgetown University, and a dual bachelor’s degree (BA) in international studies and political science from Virginia Tech. In 2016 she thru-hiked the 2,189 mile Appalachian Trail (AT) from Georgia to Maine for 6 months. In 2017, she thru-hiked the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Mexico to Canada in 4.5 months (a trail well-known by the book, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and movie with Reese Witherspoon). She says, “Hiking and living in the woods for the collective 10.5 months on the AT and the PCT is a seminal experience of my life. It allowed me to challenge myself mentally and physically, see amazing wilderness areas on foot, connect with people and learn about small towns that border the trails. The time and experiences gave me perspective on slowing down, using less and being present.” Laura writes about conservation, land management and people’s connection to nature (Patagonia, Osprey, Appalachian Gear Co., The Trek, Gossamer Gear, Pacific Crest Trail Association and various environmental and outdoor organizations). She interviewed 50+ hikers for Sounds of the Trail Podcast on the AT and PCT. She also worked for Out There Podcast, a show about the outdoors and big life questions. She’s also applying to other jobs now that are outside of the freelancing world. In the summers she works with women and kids with Appalachian Expeditions (APEX) which she loves as the most direct way to inspire people to spend time outside in nature.

Joshuah Emery

Field Instructor

Josh grew up in a little suburb of Philadelphia with cornfields and cows. Yet, his heart was in the mountains. He spent weekends and holidays avoiding rattlesnakes and swimming in ponds with newts on Catawissa Mountain. After high school, he had an itch to travel and enlisted in the US Navy. When his military service was complete, he reawakened his childhood wonder on the Appalachian Trail. Reflecting on the transformational experience he pursued a degree in Experiential and Outdoor Education at Western Carolina University (MS 2023) and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. He loves learning about nature connection, primitive skills, tracking, and animal behavior. Josh has instructed with Calleva, Brenton Woods Adventure, and Ancestral Knowledge and continues growing with APEX.

Nora McMickle

Field Instructor

Nora was born and raised right outside of D.C. in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She’s been spending time outdoors for as long as she can remember; her activities of choice are canoeing and camping. Nora is currently a Junior at the University of South Carolina, pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Counseling. She will be joining APEX for her fourth summer, and has loved every minute! She most enjoys playing with the littles during Wild Day Camp!

Join the Team!

Interested in joining our instructor team? We are always looking for motivated individuals who love going on adventures and sharing their passion for the outdoors.

Appalachian Expeditions is an equal opportunity employer and service provider who operates in Monongahela National Forest under a special use permit.

Appalachian Expeditions Board

The Appalachian Expeditions Board generously volunteers its time and energy to govern the big-picture goals of APEX, and support our community. Here we are planting trees with local kids and the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

At APEX, we model our programs after ecological principles in the natural world, where communities are comprised of a diverse array of organisms. We strive to include diverse participants and staff through our programs, and aim for equity among all members of our community. APEX practices inclusion across all identity groups, including but not limited to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, genetics information, disability unrelated to job or admission requirements, or veteran status.
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