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Meet the Guides

See the world through the eyes of a Florida biologist!

Not your average kayak guides...

Meet our biologist guides and the RTE Crew! Read their profiles below to learn more about the most fun and qualified kayak tour guides in Naples & Marco Island.See who might be leading your next adventure, and learn more about why our customers keep coming back year-after-year to explore with a crew that loves to share their knowledge and passion for SWFL with you and your family! Check out the bottom of the page for some of our certifications. Call (239) 734-3231 or book your tour online today!

All of our guides are biologists, ecologists, and/or certified Florida Master Naturalists and hold both First Aid and ACA Kayaking Instructor Certifications to ensure a safe, fun, and truly education experience exploring the estuary.



Capt. Ryan Young

Founder & Lead Explorer

MS Environmental Science –  FGCU

Research Focus: Wetland Ecology, Restoration Ecology, Water Quality

As an eagle scout, world traveler, biologist, and kayaking expert our guide Ryan knows what it means to be an explorer. After a long career as a student, Florida biologist, and local guide, Ryan founded Rising Tide Explorers to help connect people to the most qualified guides in the region and provide them with the most unique adventures in Southwest Florida. Ryan has a master’s degree in Environmental Science from FGCU specializing in Florida Wetlands, is a level 2 Kayaking Instructor with the American Canoe Association, and can answer any question you throw at him! His specialties include wetland ecology, water quality, species identification, biological indicators, restoration ecology, and more!


Capt. Jeannine Young

RTE Education & Outreach - Boat Captain

MA Environmental Science –  FGCU (in progress)

Research Focus:  Environmental Education Techniques and Effectiveness

Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Jeannine (J9) has a passion for learning and teaching others. J9 has traveled over the country and the world seeking out new foods, new cultures, new environments, and anything that she can bring back and share with others. Her skill for making even long division seem exciting has led to her current role as the Middle School Education Specialist for the Rookery Bay Reserve where she develops and hosts new programs to connect kids with all the awesome ecological secrets that our area holds. She is also currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies at FGCU. Her specialties include species identification, adaptations & competition, estuarine ecology, and environmental interpretation.


Capt. Nick Roach

Biologist Guide & Kayaking Instructor (ACA)

MS Environmental Science – FGCU (in progress)

Research Focus: Eco-toxicology, Water Quality, Estuarine Ecology

This guy is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on the wildlife and ecology of our local estuaries. As Nick completes his graduate research at FGCU on mercury accumulation in local bat species, he is also working as a biological scientist for a local consulting firm conducting water quality studies, wildlife surveys, and a ton of other awesome scientific work! Nick also worked at the Rookery Bay Reserve conducting sea turtle monitoring and water quality analysis. Having lived in Naples his whole life, Nick not only knows all the secret spots, but uses his vast science knowledge to share with you all the awesome stories of the estuary. After going on an adventure with Nick, you’ll see the estuary in a whole new light. His specialties include estuarine ecology, species identification, water quality, ecotoxicology, and much more!


Capt. Sarah Norris

Biologist Captain & Social Media

MS Environmental Science – FGCU (in progress)

Research Focus: Sea Turtle Biology & Nesting Patterns, Land Management, Exotic Species Management

Sarah was born and raised in Florida and know she wanted to pursue a career involving the great outdoors from a very young age. After graduating from FGCU in 2013 she pursued her interest in sea turtles and worked in Ghana conducting conservation research before assuming the role of Sea Turtle Program Coordinator at Rookery Bay Reserve! Sarah is currently finishing her master’s degree at FGCU and enjoys teaching others about Southwest Florida’s unique ecosystems. You may also find her conducting prescribed burns and fighting wildfires as a Certified Florida Wildland Firefighter! Her excitement about our local wildlife is contagious and you can’t help but share in it while kayaking through the mangroves with Sarah!


Matt Metcalf

Biologist Guide & Kayaking Instructor (ACA)

MS Environmental Science – FGCU

Research Focus: Herpetology, Spatial Ecology, Exotic Herpetology, Seagrass Ecology

Hailing from Alabama, ‘Snake Man’ Matt’s interest in reptiles and exotic species drew him to Southwest Florida where he completed his Master’s Degree in Environmental Science at FGCU studying Eastern Indigo Snakes in the Rookery Bay Reserve! His vast experience working in the Florida Keys and Dauphin Island Sea lab gives Matt a well-rounded background in all things Florida. When he isn’t exploring with our guests, Matt teaches biology and conducts snake research at Florida Gulf Coast University and also helps conduct wildlife surveys for Florida Fish and Wildlife. His specialties include herpetology (reptiles & amphibians), sea grass communities, spatial ecology, and much more!


Samantha Troast

Biologist Guide

MS Environmental Science – FGCU (in progress)

Research Focus: Herpetology, Ecological Modeling, Exotic Herpetology, Mangrove Ecology

Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Sam has been exploring these estuaries since she could walk.  Her connection to this unique landscape has led her to pursue her passion by learning more about it and sharing it with others!  Sam is currently working towards her graduate degree from Florida Gulf Coast University in Environmental Science studying the spatial ecology and population dynamics of the exotic Brahminy Blind Snake.  When she is not exploring the mangroves, Sam works for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection educating people in the importance of mangroves and helping to protect them too!  Her energy and passion for this area is contagious, and it’s hard not to love the estuary as much as she does by the time you get off the water!


Phoebe Clark

Biologist Guide

MA Environmental Science – FGCU (in progress)

Research Focus:  Herpetology, Restoration Ecology, Wetland Ecology.

Phoebe Clark grew up in Massachusetts before traveling down to the University of Virginia to complete her undergraduate degrees in Environmental Science and English. During her summers, she pursued a series of internships in the world of Environmental Science which included working for the Massachusetts Audubon, the New England Aquarium, and National Wildlife Refuges in Florida and Maine where she did a variety of work including lobster aquaculture, bird monitoring, invasive species removal, environmental education, plant surveys, and more! Phoebe moved to the Sunshine State in August of 2018 to begin working on her Master’s degree in Environmental Science at Florida Gulf Coast University. Phoebe is currently working with Dr. Win Everham on research using local tree frog communities to monitor and assess the success of the Picayune Strand Restoration Project, one of the largest environmental restoration projects in the world. Phoebe’s sense of adventure and passion for her work shines through when she’s on the water! Finding critters is her favorite thing and you can’t help but share in her excitement when you encounter one. She’s also known for her famous guide jokes!


Leif Johnson

Biologist Guide

BS Natural Resource Conservation – Umass Amherst

Research Focus: Biologist for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Leif grew up working on a farm in a quietly scenic corner of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. With a backyard consisting vast forest, beaches and marsh lands he explored at every opportunity, developing his love for nature and exploration by foot and kayak. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BS in Natural Resource Conservation, Leif has worked on a wide variety of conservation projects from sea turtle nest monitoring in Costa Rica and Southwest Florida, to camera trapping studies in New England and mule deer tracking in Idaho. Leif is now a biologist for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida where he conducts research on a variety of topics from invasive species to sea turtles. If there is anything we can say about Leif, it’s that he has a true passion and connection to the landscape. Sharing this amazing natural place through photography, writing, and storytelling is what he loves most, and when joining him for an adventure you’ll always share in his appreciation for it all. Not only Leif a ton of fun to explore with, but he’ll show you the real Florida like no one else!


Courtney Meek

RTE Kayak Sweep

Graduate Certificate in Ecological Research Methods – JCU

Research Focus: Effects of Climate Change on Invasive Populations, Ecology, Animal Behaviour

Courtney is an intrepid traveler and animal enthusiast who joins us from Queensland, Australia. She has a BS in zoology and has completed a post-graduate certificate in ecological research methods studying how climate change effects invasive gecko’s back home in the tropics. In her spare time Courtney is often helping out on other projects nearby, she has been a field technician on projects searching for rare possums in the rainforest, trapping cane toads in Australia and Naples FL, and recording bowerbird nesting behaviours. Her most recent position took her to Canada to work on a critical breeding program for endangered Northern spotted owls. Courtney is always excited to share some of her knowledge with our tour participants and find benthic critters hiding in the estuary. Her specialties include herpetology, animal behaviour, tropical ecology and venomous Australian animals.


Heidi Clark

RTE Kayak Sweep & Kayaking Instructor

Maine Certified Kayak Guide & ACA Kayaking Instructor

It’s easy to see that Heidi loves everything to do with Southwest Florida and the great outdoors. After joining our RTE crew for a guided tour as a guest, Heidi saw that we shared in her passion for all of the above and decided to join to team! Heidi always ensures that our explorers of comfortable, confident, and having a great time on all of our adventures. She takes pride in making sure all her ‘Ducklings’ have an amazing and memorable experience kayaking the backwaters of Southwest Florida. Heidi has some seriously sharp critter spotting skills and is notorious for finding TONS of awesome creatures in the estuary for us to look at and learn about.


Austin Fuchs

RTE Kayak Sweep

MS Biology – Clemson

Research Focus: Herpetology, SWFL Exotic Herpetology

Austin came to Florida 3 years ago to pursue his passion teaching and conducting research on water moccasin and the invasive Burmese python while he pursues his Master’s Degree from Clemson in Biology. He spent his youth hiking and exploring the waterfalls in the mountains of Seattle. Austin currently teaches high school Environmental Science and spends the rest of his time volunteering for Rookery Bay Reserve, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and Everglades National Park catching and removing Burmese python from the Everglades. His research focused on juvenile and hatching Burmese python in the western everglades. You might also find him out catching and tagging sharks with Rookery Bay’s shark biologist when he is not out cruising the backcountry roads with Matt in search of huge snakes. His passion is contagious and he is always sure to make your adventure in the backwaters one to remember!



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