Pete, a native of North Dakota, has served as director of Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE) since 2013. He arrived at Mercersburg in 2006 as MOE’s assistant director. Pete began his outdoor career as a subzero winter camper; during his undergraduate years at the University of Richmond, he took a job at an indoor climbing gym and quickly developed a passion for the sport. Today, Pete guides trips from West Virginia to Peru and enjoys sharing his love for the natural world with students. He works specifically with the Fall Climbing and Ski Mountaineering programs.
When he's not in the office making sure that permits are current and gear is in working order, Pete can be found surfing, climbing, cycling, or passing those passions on to his two active daughters.
Mathematics Faculty & Assistant Director of Outdoor Education
Sarah fell in love with the outdoors while hiking, paddling, and skiing and throughout the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She has worked with MOE since her arrival on campus in 2014, and became MOE’s assistant director in 2017. Sarah is involved with the Fall Hiking and Ski Mountaineering programs.
Sarah spent her summers at adventure camp and winters racing for her high school ski team, and led canoeing, kayaking, and hiking trips during college and skied for the Hamilton College ski team. In her professional career, she has helped operate ropes courses, led hiking trips both in the U.S. and around the world, and coached ski teams. She and her husband, fellow faculty member Jay Bozzi, live in Tippetts Hall on campus.
Associate Director of College Counseling & History Faculty
In several past lives, Austin Curwen spent far too much time outdoors. As a young man, he could be found either on the water or in the woods regardless of the season. Austin parlayed these experiences into not-particularly-lucrative, but very interesting jobs. He worked as a seasonal instructor leading 7-to-22-day sailing and/or sea kayaking courses, and was course director for the Hurricane Island Outward School in Maine for 10 years. At Mercersburg, he works with the Fall Mountain Biking and Downhill Ski programs.
A lifelong skier, Austin spent a winter at Sugarloaf USA in Maine, working in first aid and helping with patrol. Prior to coming to Mercersburg, Austin spent 12 years working at a small boarding school in California which had a particular focus on outdoor trips. There, he led numerous weekend and weeklong trips hiking or horse-packing into the Sespe, Sisquoc and Big Sur Wilderness Areas and also the high Sierra.
Jake, who works with MOE’s Spring Hiking program, was lucky enough to grow up in Chattanooga, Tenn., an ideal playground for outdoor recreation. Jake has kayaked rivers that flow through the foothills of the Appalachian and Himalayan mountain ranges, but his love for paddling really sparked as a canoe guide in Algonquin Park, Ontario. During his time as a guide, he led trips ranging from 2-35 days through the remote lakes and rivers of Ontario and Quebec. In college, he participated in an eight-day whitewater canoe trip down the Rio Grande.
While working at Baylor School (his alma mater), he helped coordinate an outdoor program that took daily excursions bouldering, trail running, hiking, paddleboarding, and fishing around Chattanooga. In addition to his work with MOE, Jake serves as an admission officer and dorm faculty member in Main Hall.
Jeff Ott works with MOE’s Fall and Spring Climbing programs. He earned a bachelor of science from Pennsylvania State University and a V.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Jeff was a partner in a six-person veterinary practice, and has served as president of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and as chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine.
Jeff has studied Tae Kwon Do and rock climbing for more than 30 years, and has a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-issued master banding permit for birds of prey. He and his wife, Pam, have three daughters: Rachael, a major in the U.S. Air Force; Kristen, a high-school teacher; and Mandy, an air and space engineer.
Jen Smith’s passion for climbing began when she participated in TREK, the precursor to MOE, during her senior year at Mercersburg (she graduated in 1997). She continued her climbing pursuits in college, working for a climbing gym in Richmond, Va., and developing her skills as a sport and traditional climber throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 15 years, she has climbed in many areas throughout the United States. At Mercersburg, she is head of the science department and works with the Spring Climbing program (and also serves as the head diving coach).
Jen enjoys guiding students on trips to many of the same areas where she began her climbing career so many years ago. She and her husband, fellow faculty member Doug Smith, live off campus with their two children. Jen is also an adviser affiliated with Keil Hall.
Jeremy works with MOE’s Fall Hiking and Winter Endeavor programs; he also teaches science and is an assistant track & field coach. He is a native of South Africa and has taught natural science and life science. Before arriving at Mercersburg, he taught at Reddam House Constantia while also coaching track & field, managing water polo and rugby, and leading outdoor activities.
Jeremy has taught and worked at schools in South Africa and the United Kingdom as well as in the U.S. He holds degrees from the University of Cape Town, the University of South Africa, and the University of Pretoria. Jeremy is a dormitory parent and adviser in Tippetts Hall and lives off campus with his wife, Wendy, and their three children (including James ’18 and Clarissa ’20).
Nicol "Nikki" Walker
Physical Education Department Head & Science Faculty
Nikki Walker’s expertise comes from her work at Syracuse, Penn State, Cleveland State, and Marywood Universities in the sports medicine and kinesiology departments. As a certified athletic trainer, Nikki is excited to offer the Anatomy and Physiology classes along with her expertise in the field, as well as her knowledge as a Wilderness First Responder.
When not in the classroom, Nikki spends afternoons training for fitness competitions, coaching varsity track & field, or spends time with her husband (fellow faculty member Dan Walker) and two active sons (including Colby ’19).
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173