ALP - Instructors
Curt Howell, M. Ed.
ALP Program Coordinator
Curt received his bachelor of arts in theology from Hardin-Simmons University and holds a master's degree in educational psychology from Texas Tech University. Since 2004, he has worked with people of all ages in the fields of outdoor recreation and education. He was the Assistant Director for the Texas Tech University Outdoor Pursuits Center for 6 years prior to coming to Adams to oversee Adventure Programs in 2013. In the Spring of 2015, Curt became the director of Campus Recreation and Wellness.
Curt also oversees the university's Adventure Leadership and Programming minor and is working to develop a major in Environmental Leadership. He teaches leadership, rock and ice climbing, backpacking, and mountaineering courses. Curt has been a certified Single Pitch Instructor and is a Licensed Climbing Wall Instructor Program Provider for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). He served a 3 year term on the board of directors for the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) and has provided board governance and management consulting to a variety of departments and non-profits. He now serves on the board of directors for the San Luis Valley Great Outdoors.
With ten years of service in higher education, Curt finds that much of his motivation still lies in participation in a student's rise to their unique challenges. If you ask some of his adventure leadership students about his style, you might hear them say something about struggle and failure and the Tao. While that may be true, his belief about leadership is summed up in a paraphrase of the Jewish Philosopher Martin Buber; the mark of true leadership is not found in what one says or does but in what becomes of those whom he leads.
Brian Puccerella, M.A.
Coordinator for Adventure Leadership and Programs
Brian received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Texas Tech University before going on to receive his master’s degree in Sport Management with an emphasis in Adventure Education from the University of Alabama. He has worked in the field of Outdoor Education and Recreation for over 5 years now, working as a graduate assistant at the University of Alabama before coming to Adams State University.
Here at Adams, Brian oversees the adventure program and works with students to build a program culture of integrity and quality. In addition, he helps to coordinate and teach for the Adventure Leadership & Programming minor through the Human Performance & Physical Education department. He is a certified Climbing Wall Instructor and Single Pitch Instructor with the American Mountain Guides Association and brings experience to Adams from a variety of outdoor disciplines & venues ranging from kayaking in Patagonia, mountain biking the Great Divide, to working as a raft guide in Denali National Park, Alaska. Brian is active in the community to develop recreation in Alamosa, and contributes where he can to improve the student experience at Adams State.
The following individuals comprise part of our instructor pool for the Adventure Leadership and Programming minor. We are proud to have the high level of experience and expertise that these professionals bring to the program:
Mat Erpelding, M.A.
Mat Erpelding is the director of Idaho Mountain Guides, educator, high-altitude mountain guide, and political activist who serving in the Idaho House of Representatives. Mat grew up in the Denver area then moved to Idaho in 1993 to attend Idaho State University, and has lived in Boise since 2006.
At Adams, Mat co-teaches the HPPE 261 ALP Expedition which takes place during the summer. Mat is also an instructor at the College of Western Idaho Department of Physical Education, specializing in training teachers to use experiential education in the classroom. Additionally, Mat is an adjunct faculty member in the Leadership Studies Minor at Boise State University. Prior to working as an instructor in higher education, Mat worked in the Division of Student Affairs at several different colleges and universities including Boise State University, California State University, Chico, Evergreen State College, and Texas Tech University. Most recently, Mat co-edited a text for outdoor leadership programs called Outdoor Program Administration.
Mat is also an accomplished high-altitude mountain guide having reached the 20,320 ft summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley) 4 out of 5 attempts while helping more than 20 clients to achieve their goal of standing on top of North America. Mat’s success in the mountains has always been tempered by this quote from Willi Unsoeld –“The final test for me of the legitimacy of the [mountaineering] experience is ‘How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?” Mat’s passion for the wilderness and the unique experiences it offers has solidified his view that civic engagement is essential to living in our community.
Mark is a highly experienced alpinist with an extensive background in education. After completing a degree in Music Education from Adams State in 1989, Mark spent the majority of his career in the field of outdoor education and recreation. He worked for Adams running the Adventure Program in the early 90s and then worked for Outward Bound as an instructor, course director, and staff trainer and as a guide for Colorado Mountain School. In 1998 Mark began working for the American Alpine Institute and spent nearly ten years guiding and training guides in the Rockies, Cascades, Bugaboos, Bolivia, and Ecuador. For the ALP, Mark has taught rock and ice courses and the mountaineering capstone course. Humble and yet keen on details, Mark provides a wealth of experience and judgment that support students’ learning and practice.
A climber, mountaineer, and sea kayaker, Joel works for the Northwest Outward Bound School as an instructor, staff trainer, and course director. Joel also owns Cascade Outdoor Education and has been teaching Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness First Aid courses for the Wilderness Medicine Training Center for over 8 years. Joel graduated from Chico State 2005 and has been immersed in outdoor education ever sense. Joel started teaching Wilderness Medicine courses for Adams State in 2014.
Sandy owns and operates the Pass Creek Yurt, The Wolf Creek Avalanche School, and Adventure Coaching. She is recognized by the American Avalanche Association as a Certified Instructor. Sandy is an AIARE Level 1 & Level 2 Instructor and Course Leader and has been an AIARE Instructor Trainer. Her experience at the Wolf Creek Ski Area as the Patrol Director, Assistant Director, snow safety supervisor, and ski patrol Supervisor at Squaw Valley USA results in her 28 years of professional avalanche work. Sandy has taught Level 1 & 2 courses for the Silverton Avalanche School, Telluride Avalanche School, NOLS Winter Instructor Training, CDOT, and Babes in the Backcountry. Sandy's expertise includes 20 years as a corporate trainer supporting people with decision-making, accountability, personal awareness, and intentional communication. Sandy started teaching AIARE Level 1 courses for Adams State in 2015.