We’ve Got the Best Guides in the Biz
Each of our guides brings a unique background and set of life experiences to the team. This diversity brings a depth of knowledge and understanding of what it means to create an exceptional visitor experience. That’s our focus… you. The Duluth Experience vision is founded on a deep sense of place, an appreciation for local business, a passion for outdoor adventure, and a deep pride for our region’s past, present, and future. We value creative storytelling, access to the outdoors and have a thirst for excellence, innovation, and education. Our Team is diverse group of fun-loving individuals who share a passion for Duluth. We are educators, outdoor professionals, beer brewers, researchers, local business leaders, and above all… ambassadors for Duluth!
Passion • Thirst • Service
Are you interested in joining our Team? Check out our current job openings and apply today!
Dave GrandmaisonCo-Owner | CEO | Cycling & Brewery Tour Guide
Dave is a 4th generation Duluthian - and proud of it. After finishing high school in Duluth, Dave attended St. John’s University where he earned a B.A. in Natural Science and began his love affair with home brewing. After graduating, Dave drove his pickup to Alaska, eventually arriving in Juneau where he worked as a guide for an Alaskan tour company. After a summer in Alaska, Dave returned to the lower 48 and worked as a seasonal wildlife biologist for three years before heading back to Duluth to attend graduate school at UMD. Dave earned a M.S. in Biology, moved to Arizona, and spent 8 years coordinating wildlife research studies as a Senior Project Manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. In 2012, Dave returned to Duluth to help start The Duluth Experience.
- Dave holds current certifications as a Wilderness First Responder and American Heart Association CPR and is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Kris McNealCo-Owner | Chief Operations Officer | Kayak, Cycling & Brewery Tour Guide
Kris's passion for adventure manifested at an early age. As a child his parents took him and his brother camping on Lake Superior's North Shore, on adventures around the U.S. and abroad. At 16, Kris and his brother embarked on a roadtrip adventure that took them to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. From that point on Kris was hooked on outdoor travel & adventure. Kris moved to Duluth in 2004 and started college at the UMD where he earned degrees in Life Science & Outdoor Education. During this time, Kris worked as a kayak instructor and guide for the UMD Outdoors Program. Now he's joined The Duluth Experience to pass along his passion for Duluth and outdoor adventure. Check out Kris' travel adventure film which premiered in October 2014.
- Kris holds current certifications as a Wilderness First Responder and Red Cross CPR and is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Kyle ChisholmCity Tour Program Coordinator | City & Brewery Tour Guide
Kyle was born in New England where he grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire before moving to Duluth in 1994. Kyle is a graduate of Duluth Central High School and a two time graduate of UMD where he earned a B.A. in History and a B.A.A in Teaching Social Studies. Kyle holds a Minnesota teaching license and has worked for local historic institutions such as the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and The Historic Glensheen Mansion. On top of that, Kyle has visited historical sites and parks all over the country. Some locations include: The Freedom Trail in Boston, many sites in and around Washington D.C., Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC, Smoky Mountains NP, Yosemite NP, Mt. St. Helens National Monument, and Katmai NP in Alaska. In addition to his work with The Duluth Experience, Kyle works for Duluth Public Schools as an Instructional Interventionist and regularly contributes to projects for Pearson Education.
- Kyle is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Nick SchutzBrewery Tour Coordinator | Brewery & City Tour Guide
Nick's fascination with Duluth's natural history started at an early age, when he explored Duluth's unique geology and topography. After relocating to Duluth in 2005, Nick began an in-depth study of the connection between the Great Lakes waterway and early settlement by Native American and European populations. His interest in the region's history was borne out of a deep admiration for the area, the lake, and its people. Nick is eager to continue to dig deeper into these subjects and share the resources and information he compiles with The Duluth Experience's guests. Nick is an accomplished marathon runner and a wicked good disc golfer.
- Nick is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Jonee VanceBrewery Tour & Kayak Adventure Guide
Vance has lived in Minnesota her entire life and has been a Duluthian for about 7 years. Much of her childhood was spent hunting, fishing, swimming, and hiking on Rainy Lake and camping in the Boundary Waters. She picked up the canoe paddle at an early age and her love for kayaking soon followed. Since graduating from St. Scholastica with an B.S. in Elementary Ed and Ojibwe Language and Culture, she has worked in the local craft beer industry and guided whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River. She's also an avid photographer and loves to travel. Jonee has been a good friend to The Duluth Experience over the years and we are excited to welcome her to the team!
- Jonee holds current certification in Wilderness First Aid and CPR and is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Courtney LovasBrewery Tour Guide
Courtney grew up in Milwaukee, WI as the youngest of four children. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse in 2012, she moved to Madison where she lived for 6 years, planning craft beer festivals and events for a local publishing company. She made the move to Superior, WI in September 2018 with her boyfriend Ryan and their black lab, Deja. Courtney also works full-time planning beer festivals for the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild and is excited to learn all she can about the local beer scene. In her free time, Courtney enjoys drinking craft beer, meeting new people, traveling, and playing outdoors.
- Courtney is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Bud TrnkaCommunity Development Coordinator | Kayak, Cycling, Brewery & City Tour Guide
Bud is a Duluth native - and proud of it! Like many young Duluthians, Bud left town shortly after graduating from high school in 2000 and moved out west to participate in the Americorps program in Sacramento, California. Bud traveled the west coast for a number of years and worked on a variety of civil service projects before moving back to Minnesota to study Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Following his dreams, Bud went on to help organize a bunch of running events around the country... but his home was always Duluth. Now he's back to help introduce folks to local craft beer and Duluth's epic adventure scene. Bud has over 13 years of experience in the restaurant industry and has a deep love for craft beer and good whiskey.
- Bud holds current certification in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.
Shannon LaingCity Tour Guide
Shannon was born in Hastings, MN, attended Wartburg College where she earned her Communications Major and experienced a bunch of epic adventures along the way in places like Amsterdam, London, Paris, and Dublin. Eventually, Shannon moved to Duluth in 2002 and dove right into community building. After 13 years marketing our local co-op and advocating for the natural food industry, she now works for Ecolibrium3, a nonprofit organization located in Lincoln Park. Shannon has a passion for telling the stories of local crafters, artists, artisans and others folks who create and work with their hands. She looks forward to showing you today’s Duluth within the context of the past and an eye to the future. In her spare time, Shannon hangs out with her trusty canine sidekick DC, slow rolling on her sweet cruiser bike, experimenting in the kitchen, and working on her first book.
Jess PoppieKayak Adventure Guide
Jess was born and raised in Wisconsin where she spent years exploring the shores of Lake Michigan and hiking the bluffs along the Mississippi. Jess realized her love for outdoor adventures when she guided a week long youth canoe trip. Since then, she has had many awesome opportunities to lead bike treks, backpacking excursions, and other outdoor activities. Her dream is to share her love for the outdoors with others, so she transferred to Duluth and is currently working on her degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in outdoor education at UMD. In her spare time you can find Jess around Duluth hiking, road biking, or taking a swim in the lake. Jess loves Duluth and can’t wait to share this amazing city with others.
- Jess holds current certification in First Aid, Waterfront Lifeguarding, and American Red Cross CPR.
Nathan AndersonBrewery Tour Guide
Nathan was born and raised in Duluth but left town to attend college at St. Olaf and travel to fun places like Chicago and Egypt before returning to Duluth almost 20 years later. Nathan has spent over fifteen years of experience in the classroom teaching high school physics and he now lectures in physics and astronomy at The University of Wisconsin, Superior. Nathan can also be found exploring the Hartley Nature Center with elementary school groups or teaching games of lacrosse for the YMCA. In addition to his extensive teaching background, Nathan has been brewing his own beer for over ten years. When not sharing and drinking his own beer, he likes to visit the local breweries and is excited to share Duluth's craft beer scene with our guests.
- Nate is a Cicerone Level 1 - Certified Beer Server.
Elizabeth VaughnKayak Adventure Guide
Elizabeth earned a degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management at Northern Michigan University before relocating to Duluth in 2012. She discovered Duluth was the perfect fit for her love of the outdoors and passion for adventure. When not guiding kayak adventures or managing Duluth Pack, Elizabeth can is training and riding horses for the sport of Eventing, training for marathons with her dogs, backpacking, climbing, biking, snowboarding, or tackling whatever challenge is next! Elizabeth can't wait to show you what makes Duluth so exceptional and share her next adventure with you!
- Elizabeth holds current certification in Wilderness First Aid and is an American Canoe Association certified paddle instructor.
Your Name HereJoin Our Team!
The Duluth Experience is dedicated to creating fun and educational experiences that connect people to the businesses and adventures that define the Northland’s rich natural, historical, and cultural Experience. If you have a deep appreciation for Duluth then you’re qualified! Our core values are: Passion, Thirst, and Service. Embodiment of these three core values is essential for The Duluth Experience Team. Everyone on The Duluth Experience Team is truly passionate about what we are doing, because this is what makes our company special! Our customers respond to our passion and it enriches their Experience. Our Team Members have a thirst for excellence, innovation, and knowledge. That thirst helps keep our tours fresh and fun. We serve our customers, our Affiliates, our community and our Team, and this helps The Duluth Experience maintain its sense of place. As a Team Member of The Duluth Experience, you are an ambassador for Duluth! Click here to see available positions.