2024 Special Emphasis Series

Stay tuned! Additional information forthcoming.

Throughout the summer, we invite guest speakers to share their expertise in the field and through evening presentations. You may want to time your visit to coincide with one of our Special Emphasis Series sessions. Our regular program of guided hiking occurs simultaneously.

Dr. Jon Atwood

Conservationist & Ornithologist

June 3-6


Dr. Jon Atwood recently retired from his position as Director of Bird Conservation for Mass Audubon, where his work focused on grassland birds and full-life cycle conservation of Roseate and Least terns. He has been a practicing ornithologist and conservation biologist for more than 40 years, using behavioral studies of rare and endangered bird species to inform conservation planning.

After completing his master’s and doctoral degrees in southern California, where he studied Santa Cruz Island Scrub-Jay behavior, Least Tern breeding biology, and the taxonomy of gnatcatchers living in the deserts of North America, he moved to the East Coast in 1986. Building on his experience as a Master bird-bander, he worked at Manomet Bird Observatory and collaborated in the analysis of the first 30 years of Manomet’s land bird banding program. He also spearheaded federal protection of the California Gnatcatcher under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, led a long-term study of factors affecting Least Tern colony site selection, and contributed to early studies of Bicknell’s Thrush in New England.


Susan Paskvan

Former Native Language Coordinator of Yukon-Koyukuk School District

June 10-13

June 14-16




Susan Paskvan, known as “K’etsoo” in Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) is the daughter of Benedict and Eliza Jones of Koyukuk, Alaska.  

She was the Native Language Coordinator of Yukon-Koyukuk School District, which serves ten Interior Alaska Schools. In this role, Susan taught Denaakk’e over two-way video-conference; developed the curriculum, lessons and materials; and coordinated professional development workshops for language speakers and educators. She believes there is no greater joy than watching a child having fun learning their language.

Throughout her fifteen years at Y-KSD Susan has worked with many elders, most often with her mother, Eliza Jones, to document Native place names throughout the Interior; genealogy; traditional memorial songs and stories. These hundreds of hours of recordings have led to an increase in the number of people who are able to sing their traditional songs at memorial potlatches. 


Sarah Roeske, Ph.D.

Research Geologist, Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis

June 24-27

June 28-30




Widely recognized for her research in Alaska, Sarah Roeske brings more than 40 years of experience studying Alaskan geology and Cordilleran plate tectonics. First introduced to Alaskan geology as an undergraduate at Middlebury College, she did field studies on the Kodiak Islands for her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has conducted fieldwork from Sitka in southeast Alaska to the Brooks Range in the north, using everything from llamas to helicopters to access remote areas. As a research faculty member at University of California, Davis since 1990 she has enjoyed the chance to introduce numerous students to the Alaskan wilderness and the wonders and mysteries of geology.

Sarah’s research focuses principally on modern and ancient plate boundary faults and mountain-building processes, most recently focusing on the Alaska Range, which includes Denali, the highest peak in North America.

Ben Rawlence

Award winning writer, activist, & former speech writer to Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy

July 22-25

July 26-28



Ben Rawlence wrote two books about the human consequences of environmental catastrophe in Africa: Radio Congo about the people living in the wreck-age of Eastern Congo’s resource wars and City of Thorns– about people fleeing famine and climate-driven war in the Horn of Africa.

After moving to Wales and beginning to research the coming impacts of climate change closer to home, his attention turned to the Arctic Circle and the boreal forest. What he discovered led to his third book: The Treeline and to a dawning realisation that we needed to prepare – and soon – for major changes to our ways of life. And to do that, we need new institutions that promote new ways of thinking and learning, new ways of seeing ourselves and new ways of interacting with the non-human world. Black Mountains College is committed to that task.

Dr. Nikoosh Carlo, Ph.D.

CEO of CNC North Consulting

July 29-August 1



Dr. Nikoosh Carlo is Koyukon Athabascan and CEO of CNC North Consulting. Dr. Carlo guides clients to develop a vision for their climate change and Arctic priorities and build momentum to achieve their goals. She has worked across political divides for state senators, ambassadors, and governors on issues of Arctic governance. Her true passions are working with organizations that support climate change equity, and the well-being of Arctic residents and Indigenous peoples.

Dr. Carlo’s recent work focuses on driving transformative change in the finance sector to support Indigenous-led climate solutions in the Arctic and beyond. In April 2022, President Biden appointed Dr. Carlo to serve as an academic member on the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, an independent federal agency that advises the president and Congress on domestic and international Arctic research. Dr. Carlo received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from University of California San Diego and a B.S. in psychology from University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Princess Daazhraii Johnson

Writer, Actor, Producer

August 9-12


Princess Daazhraii Johnson (she/her) is Neets'aii Gwich'in and lives with her three sons, daughter, and partner on lower Tanana Dene lands in Alaska. She is humbled to serve on the boards of Native Movement and NDN Collective, and the SAG-AFTRA Native American Committee since 2007.

In 2015 she was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a Sundance Film Alum, a Nia Tero Storytelling Fellow, and Illuminatives/Netflix Producers Program participant and is an Emmy-nominated screenwriter and former Creative Producer for Peabody award-winning PBS Kids series Molly of Denali.

Ronn & Marketa Murray

Aurora Borealis Experts & Photographers

August 19-22

August 23-25


Ronn & Marketa Murray are a husband and wife team, both in life and in business. They share a passion for many things, including photography, Northern Lights, nature, travel, and Angus, their wonderful Black Lab.

Ronn fell in love with photography in 2007 while working over the summer in California to pay his way through college. Later that year, he moved to Anchorage, Alaska, to follow his dream of becoming a professional photographer. It was then that he captured his first image of the Northern Lights and became entranced by their magic spell.

Marketa was born and raised in the Czech Republic. In 2002, she moved to Iceland and went on to manage TGI Fridays for several years. During that time she fell in love with the night sky, the Aurora, the beautiful Icelandic landscapes and photography. In 2011, she ventured to Alaska, where the two met and fell in love chasing the Aurora together. They were married a year later, beneath the majestic Aurora Borealis and have been “chasing the lights” together, ever since.


Ralph Clevenger


August 26-29

August 30-September 1


Autumn Photography Workshop*

Ralph Clevenger holds degrees in both zoology and photography and was a senior faculty member at the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA for 33 years. He follows his passion for the natural world by specializing in photography and video projects of ecotravel, wildlife and the undersea world. Ralph has photographed assignments and led workshops around the world, and this will be his ninth trip to Camp Denali. He is the author of the book “Photographing Nature”, a sponsored ambassador for Light & Motion, and is represented by Tandem Stills & Motion.

Ralph’s publication credits include Audubon, Islands, Oceans, Outside, Orion Nature Quarterly, National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Nature’s Best, National Geographic Books, Smithsonian Books, Sierra Club Books, and many other national and international publications.

*additional fee applies to photography workshop participants