About Us

Our History & Mission

Our Story


In 2004, Blake Cazier and Stephanie Love co-founded Positive Energy Outdoors to provide opportunities for low and moderate income youth to experience people and animal powered outdoor activities. PEO is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.

Each year, POE introduces thousands of people to world-class outdoor adventure activities in Duluth and on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Our incredible team has over 40 years of combined professional experience as outdoor educators.

Over the years, we have added to our programs and have enjoyed the support of many individuals, families, and organizations in our community. Our newest program launch is an after-school outdoor education program we call Adventure Club. We are fortunate to have so many gifted, highly qualified, and passionate leaders on our staff team and we are grateful to have the support and guidance of our wonderful board of directors.

In 2018 we adopted the slogan, “Unplug. Connect. Grow.” Our history, our mission, and the combined efforts of our directors, staff, board, and sponsors work every day to help people achieve an appreciation for the many benefits of outdoor adventures.

Thank you for participating in our public programs, which continue to provide crucial funding to help defray the direct program costs of the outdoor education experiences we provide for low-moderate income youth. Your adventure starts here!

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Our Mission


Positive Energy Outdoors encourages people and animal powered exploration of the outdoors. Our programs emphasize teamwork, healthy risk-taking, and positive communication, creating learning opportunities that can lead to a lifetime of active adventures. Positive Energy Outdoors activities and educational methods emphasize:

Team Building

Creating increased opportunities to connect cooperatively with peers, family, community and mentors through interesting and challenging activities that set high expectations for participants.

Access

Providing unique physical activities that not all families, individuals, organizations or schools can provide or afford.

Experiential Learning

Offering meaningful participation in activities through a participatory learning approach that promotes interpersonal skills, life skills, healthy choices and positive risk-taking among participants.

Leadership/Volunteer Development

Creating leadership opportunities through participation, in-service projects and community events.

Founding Directors


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Blake Cazier

Blake received his B.A.S. Teaching Earth Sciences from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Prior to starting Positive Energy, Blake spent 13 years as a college outdoor program director, and is one of the most experienced climbing and kayaking instructors and guides in Northeast Minnesota.  Blake has owned sled dogs since 1993, and is passionate about helping people explore the natural world.

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Stephanie Love

Steph received her M.S. in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and has led trips for the Voyageur Outward Bound School and directed the HighScope Institute for IDES, a model residential camp program for talented, disadvantaged teens. Steph is currently a consultant for the University of Minnesota Youth Work Learning Lab and the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, where she trains youth workers from around the state and nationally on youth development best practices.

Board of Directors


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Rachel Nyman

Rachel is Branch Manager at Republic Bank.  She met Steph in 2015 through a United Way campaign at work.  The outdoors have always been a focal point of Rachel’s life, going back to being raised in central Minnesota on the prairie and at her family’s old homestead.  She has a degree in Earth Science and Environmental Education.  She enjoys camping and fishing on Two Island Lake as well as hiking and kayaking.  She serves on the board to help kids connect with nature in ways that inspire growth.

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Sascha Mansson

Sascha has served on the board since 2008.   She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead with a degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education.  She has taught and owned her own business in Duluth.  She is  very passionate about our children and supporting programs that provide them opportunities to be outside, connecting them with animals, and building community. Sascha is excited seeing the growth of PEO and the number of children and families that they continue to serve.

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Marshall Disrude

Marshall lives in Solway Township with his wife Bryna and his two sons, Cameron and Caiden.  He is a Special Education teacher at Superior Middle School.  In his off time, Marshall enjoys ice fishing, hunting, canoeing, and exploring the outdoors with his boys.  He got involved with Positive Energy Outdoors and serves on the board because he loves to teach people, especially kids, about the outdoors and because he strongly believes in PEO’s mission.

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Michelle Simon

Michelle Simon is a Licensed Psychologist who concentrates on advocating for children and healthy families. She runs the Simon & Guthrie Offices and offers psychological consult as well as Family Court Mediation and Arbitration.  Michelle does community education on all around healthier home and body environments to best foster a healthier child development. She enjoys contributing to enhancing the lives of children and positively effecting families, something that Positive Energy is also very focused on.

Staff


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Seasons Suders

Seasons works with our Esko Adventure Club. She was born and raised in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State with a degree in Environmental Science and Agronomy. After school, she worked for a few years in Agriculture research and development before moving to Duluth in 2013 to work with multiple youth and children’s organizations.  She enjoys hiking, paddling, and skiing and hopes to instill confidence in young people by equipping them with outdoor skills.

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Amy Halverson

Amy works with our Esko Adventure Club. She jumped the border from Saskatchewan where she grew up on a farm outside a very small town.  She is a graduate of Jamestown College in North Dakota with a double major in Elementary Education and Physical Education with an emphasis on Special Needs and Coaching.  She is also a grad of the National Outdoor Leadership School.  Amy enjoys kayaking, rock climbing, biking, photography, and spending time with her family back in Canada.

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Tjaard Breeuwer

Tjaard grew up in Holland. In the past he has taught white water kayaking and climbing skills. After moving to Minnesota in his late twenties, Tjaard was able to broaden his outdoor activities, especially the winter ones! He now enjoys almost any nature-based sport and recreation. His favorite part about working at PEO is being able to share our values of Team Work and Respect for our Environment and Each Other with a strong commitment to personal growth and safety.

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Paul Sonday

Paul is our Sled Dog Kennel Manager.  He studied at Bemidji State University before transferring to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a degree in Environmental Earth Sciences, after which he committed himself to a year of service with AmeriCorps.  He worked primarily as an elementary math tutor spending his off-duty hours volunteering in the community in Duluth.  AmeriCorps led him to Positive Energy Outdoors where he is now charged with the daily care and training of our sled dogs and draft horses.

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Carson Main

Carson is a recent transplant to Duluth and works with our Esko Adventure Club. He grew up on the prairie of eastern South Dakota. He received an Environmental Science degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.  He most recently taught environmental education at an inner-city middle school through a partnership with the Wisconsin Green Schools Network and The Aldo Leopold Foundation in Madison. That experience led him to PEO and he is excited to continue his passion of helping youth learn from and enjoy the outdoors. In his free time he likes to backpack, canoe, cook, and garden.