Zach Brown, Executive Director
Zach grew up surrounded by the wilderness of Southeast Alaska. With parents in the National Park Service, Zach had ample opportunity as a boy to explore the mountains and fjords of this region, experiences that gave him a lasting love of the natural world.
Attending college in Southern California, Zach studied chemistry and biology. When the opportunity came to travel to the Arctic, his life changed forever. Zach spent a field season in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, observing how seabirds are responding to a changing climate. This unforgettable experience led Zach to pursue a PhD at Stanford University, where he continued to study how changing sea ice affects the marine biological communities of the polar regions, especially the phytoplankton that form the first link of the food chain. During his time at Stanford, Zach was thrilled to undertake multiple research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic.
Completing his PhD studies in spring 2014, Zach set off on a 4-month, 2300-mile solo trek, hiking and paddling from Stanford to his Alaskan homeland, to spread the word about creating Inian Islands Institute, where he now serves as founding director.
Colter Barnes, Homesteading Resident
Hi there, my name is Colter Barnes and I am 34 years old. I was born in Montana, raised in Oregon, and have lived in Alaska going on 12 years now; in Kokhanok, Wrangell, Coffman Cove, and now at the Hobbit Hole! I have a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Montana State University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Alaska. I taught K-12 math and science for 5 years before switching over to the dark side and being a school principal the last 5 years of my career.
After leaving the “bush” of Southwest Alaska, I set sail for Southeast aboard my ketch-rigged Ingrid 38 “Lionheart”… and have been here ever since. While on Prince of Wales Island, I was fortunate to manage 4 aquaponic greenhouses for Southeast Island School District where I got to professionally combine my loves of working with children and growing/preserving/eating food on the daily.
This brings me to my true passion… practicing, learning about, and sharing everything “homesteading”. I have a 2-acre homestead in the village of Kokhanok where I ran a WWOOF farm for 6 years, hosting 29 WWOOFers from all over the world. We kept bees, goats, pigs, rabbits, and chickens, grew outdoors and indoors, foraged, hunted, fished, and milled/built structures with local wood. I also have a (very) remote 17-acre homestead on the south fork of the Kuskokwim River I “won” in the state land lottery for $25. I’ve slowly been developing that piece of land with the hope of turning it into a homesteading/experiential field school in the future.
My interests are basically everything DIY (do-it-yourself); growing/foraging/preserving food, brewing beer and wine, milling wood, renewable energy, subsistence hunting and fishing, COMPOSTING, tanning hides and skin-sewing, recycling, and basically anything that encourages me to use my resources (people, environment, skills, time, information, etc.) better.
“Do your best until you know better. When you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” -Annie Dillard
Morgan Peterson-Park, Chef
Morgan grew up exploring the high desert of northern Nevada. Spending time in Oregon and all along the Pacific Northwest, where she learned about foraging and eating with sustainability in mind. With a passion for cooking and a love for the outdoors, southeast Alaska has been the perfect place for her. Morgan has been living and loving Alaska for the last six years. Morgan’s time is spent hiking with her dog , making art, and cooking.
Erin Ohlson, Administrative Assistant
Erin got her Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast in an effort to learn how to secure the long-term sustainability of the Gustavus Children’s Enhancement Program (GCEP) – a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) which offers preschool and child care services. Erin grew up in Gustavus, left for about 10 years after high school, and returned in 2012 to raise her two daughters with her husband Travis who is a fifth generation descendant of a Gustavus homesteading family. As many rural residents do, Erin pieces together many part-time jobs to make a living. Currently, Erin is the CEO of GCEP, a bookkeeper for both a private entrepreneur and a nonprofit, a supervisor for the seasonal Alaska Airlines service in Gustavus, and she owns a few rental cabins in Gustavus. In her free time, Erin enjoys playing board and card games, exercise, traveling the world, and her family above all else.