School For Outdoor Leadership, Adventure, and

Introducing Southeast Michigan to the Outdoors Since 1976

Steering Committee

Jennifer Tislerics


Since the very first meeting that my husband, Ati, and I attended in January 2005, I've been impressed with the variety of classes and activities available to SOLAR club members. I've taken classes on enjoying a winter day, basic backpacking, knot tying, lightweight backpacking, wilderness first aid, basic land navigation, winter camping and cross-country skiing. Through SOLAR I have hiked, spent days snowshoeing, gone caving in Kentucky, paddled down rivers, and enjoyed many backpacking trips - my biggest adventure so far was backpacking for 2 weeks along the John Muir Trail in California. I also enjoy road biking, snorkeling and SCUBA diving.

I've volunteered my time to SOLAR through newsletter editing, survey administering, helping to teach classes, serving as membership chairperson, and lots of other small ways. I now have the honor of serving as club president. I have made a lot of good friends through SOLAR, and gained a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities. I enjoy volunteering for the club, and find that I gain more than I give in time and energy.

Jennifer can be reached via email.

Michael Seng

Vice President

I have been a member for 4 years and enjoy spending time camping, hiking and canoeing - when I can get away.

Michael can be reached via email.

Debbie Hendrickson


I grew up in Missouri where my family did a lot of camping and canoeing. As the years have passed I have added rafting, kayaking, backpacking, hiking and bicycling to the list of activities I like doing. I really enjoy living in Michigan with all the opportunites it has for outdoor fun. What a beautiful state.

I was glad when I found SOLAR and the opportunity to enjoy these activities with other people with a passion for the outdoors.

Debbie can be reached via email.

Heidi Tietjen


I found out about SOLAR while searching the web for hiking groups that would allow dogs to come along. My dogs, Marco and Tilly, are great listeners but aren’t very good conversationalists so I wanted to find some human hiking companions. I came to a meeting and was happy to see dogs there but was happier to learn about people doing interesting activities. I grew up as odd woman out in a non-outdoorsy family but my mom indulged me by letting me drag her camping and canoeing, sometimes with Girl Scouts, sometimes with just some of my friends. Luckily my best friend from fourth grade through high school had parents who even went camping on their honeymoon so I went on lots of trips with them.

When I was 15 my mom took my younger sister and me on a trip to California. To save money we camped along the way and visited lots of national parks. I loved (almost) every minute of it. When we were in Colorado I bought a book on backpacking that I have to this day. It was another two years before I actually went on a backpacking trip, when I went with a group from college to Kilarney Provincial Park on Georgian Bay. We did trips throughout college, including hiking Pictured Rocks from end to end. The trail was quite different then than it is now!

I had a long hiatus from backpacking after I graduated from college but I did continue to hike regularly, often in great places around the world: the American southwest, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Italy, the Czech Republic, and China. In 2002 I moved to Beijing. My job made me miserable but my salvation was finding a hiking group that went out into the countryside every weekend. We often hiked on mountainous, old, crumbling sections of the Great Wall and often passed by villages that looked almost as old and crumbling. I also had my first mountain biking and zip-line experiences there.

When I left China I decided to fulfill a decade-old dream. In 2003 I spent 9 weeks walking the Camino de Santiago from Vezelay, France to Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, Spain. (I then walked another three days to the Atlantic coast.) I have often said that I’m not much good at anything that takes much skill or coordination but I’m great at things that just require grim determination.

Since I joined SOLAR I have taken Basic Backpacking, Women in the Woods, Intermediate Backpacking, Wilderness First Aid, Search and Rescue, Basic Land Navigation, Introduction to Kayaking, Knots, and Enjoying Michigan Winters (with which I am now privileged to help). I’ve yet to do a long trip out west but I keep pretty busy with shorter hiking, camping, and backpacking trips, cross-country skiing, road biking, or paddling. I especially like to do things where I can bring Marco and Tilly. They’re small but they are terrific trail dogs.

Heidi can be reached via email.

Katie Raeon


I have always enjoyed being outdoors, especially fishing and sailing. Once my kids were out of the house I joined Solar so I could take the Beginning Backpacking class followed by the Enjoying Michigan Winters class. I have been a Solar member for two years and enjoy volunteering and trying new things, which is how I became the current Activities chair. I grew up in Detroit, am married, have three grown kids and have worked as a registered nurse for almost 37 years. I am looking forward to more adventures, especially going to Isle Royale in the future.

Katie can be reached via email.

Elaine Granch

By Laws

Growing up in Dearborn Heights, MI, family vacations were spent camping (car) in Michigan state parks and forests. Our favorite parks were ones with nature trails and my brother and I spent many hours exploring them - sometimes even dragging my sister along! The best part of the two years I lived in Pennsylvania was the rail trail that went through town and the many opportunities to explore the AT. Upon my return to Michigan, I commenced a quest to find people who enjoyed the outdoors as much as I do. After hearing about the wonders of SOLAR ad nauseum, I finally decided to see for myself what the fuss was about and became a member just over a year ago. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of all that SOLAR offers.

Elaine can be reached via email.

Jeff Zabel


I grew up in Saint Clair Shores and have lived in Michigan my whole life. I live in Farmington Hills with my Wife Wendy, our dog Kacey, and our cat Simon. I graduated from Walsh College back in 1989 and have a BBA with a major in Computer Information Systems. I currently work for Toronto Dominion Auto Finance as a business process analyst. I visited most of Michigan’s tourist spots in my youth and enjoy camping, backpacking, gardening, canoeing, scuba diving, skiing, and almost any other outdoor activity. In my 24 years with Solar I have backpacked the Bruce Peninsula, rock climbed at Rattlesnake Provincial Park, shot white water rapids on the New River and in the Grand Canyon, ridden horses in Mexico, visited Machu Picchu, hiked the Inca trail, visited castles and skied in Austria, travelled the Amazon river, and visited grass islands on Lake Titicaca. The people you meet and the things you do with Solar will be with you forever.

Jeff can be reached via email.

Phil Crookshank


I lived lots of places, never mattered where, until I came to MI. to attend college at Ferris. Went back to Il., briefly, moved to Mi. for work, and the Wonderful Green-ness here. Had a family for 9 years, then started tramping around Wyoming with my vacation time each year. Always said when I quit Ford, I'm moving West! Finally did - moved to WESTland. Home of the Nature Preserve I've been a steward of for 25 years.

So - even after retirement, I plan each month where and when I can get away for kayaking, canoeing, wildflower stalking, camping, backpacking, canyoneering around Moab, skiing. My passion has been to take groups into Algonquin for a week of wilderness canoeing many times - always a favorite even when we get hundreds of red dots from skeeters and black flies. What's an adventure without them? So, now I can enhance my passion to help get people out into the wilderness - - - by providing them with some of the Solar Club Equipment to try out. Better than being in sales at REI!

Phil can be reached via email.

Karen Haroutunian


I grew up a city girl. The closest my family came to camping was roadside picnics. My first camping experience was a 2-week Outward Bound vacation in Oregon that involved 1 week of whitewater rafting on the Deschutes River and 1 week of backpacking in the Central Cascades (which included one day of rock climbing and one day of rappelling). I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was great! I came back wanting to pursue outdoor activities, but didn't know where to start and had no equipment. While hiking with the BS Hikers someone told me about S.O.L.A.R. and mentioned that they had equipment members could borrow. I went to a meeting and was impressed by the diversity of both people and activities. That was in 2008 and I'm still impressed. I've taken most of the S.O.L.A.R. classes and have helped teach a few. I've traveled to some beautiful places with interesting people. I can honestly say that everything I've learned about backpacking, camping, winter camping, land navigation and so much more has been through the generosity of S.O.L.A.R. members who have unselfishly shared their knowledge, experience and love of the outdoors with me and so many others.

Karen can be reached via email.

Carol Rogers


Growing up in Detroit, my only camping experience was with the Girl Scouts and I have found memories of the trips we took locally. As I grew up, I got away from the great outdoors but rediscovered it when I moved to the Seattle area. Once back in Michigan, I found I missed those days of being outside. I never knew there were so many wonderful parks in my backyard for hiking and camping. A friend from another hiking group convinced me to come to a SOLAR meeting and I soon joined. After having enjoyed several classes and activities, I felt that I need to give back to the group that has offerred me the forum to enjoy doing things I love with others. Since many of my friends have nicknamed me "Julie, the cruise director", the Activities Chairperson role seemed a good fit. I am looking forward to meeting and helping members share activities and trips that they are passionate about with other members.

Carol can be reached via email.

Kristian Bartell


I really got into the outdoors while attending Michigan Tech in the remotest of corners in the UP. With nothing else to do I resorted to camping, hiking, kayaking, and exploring as time allowed. Since graduating, my wife and I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel and explore all over the world from Australia to the Florida Keys and of course locally here in Michigan. In my spare time you'll probably find me paddleboarding, bike touring, camping, hiking, or adventure racing.

Kristian can be reached via email.

Bill Morse

Public Relations

What's better than outdoor fun? Great for the body, soul, and spirit, and especially in the company of others who enjoy the same. I heard about SOLAR while on a hike with a member who raved about the club, and I joined six years ago. Since then I have climbed Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, cross-country skied in Quebec, and biked Mackinac Island with other SOLARites. Also I have savored the beauty of Hocking Hills, kayaked the Huron River, and ascended the stairs of the Renaissance Center. The classes I've taken have offered an opportunity to learn from those who are experienced. I look forward to learning more and enjoying upcoming adventures with SOLAR!

Bill can be reached via email.

Rosemarie Attilio

Ray Editor

I am an explorer who enjoys all types of nature, flora, fauna and vista. A passionate jungle traveler, who has had various jungle adventures such as delivering school supplies to children in the Amazon, and bird and nature activities in Costa Rica and the Florida Everglades. I have been lucky to have other travel adventures in a tent in S. Africa, hiking the moors of England, and camping in Algonquin, Canada. I am a former board member of the Detroit Audubon Society, a member of the Michigan Orchid Society, an Advanced Master Gardener, and a volunteer gardener at the Detroit Zoo. I love Nature photography, bird watching, hiking, and art. I enjoy visiting museums world-wide. A life-long Michigander, I believe we live in one of the most beautiful and diverse states in the Country.

Rosemarie can be reached via email.

Jim Kadlubowski


I'm originally from the U.P. Growing up I was a book-worm but still played outside a lot because that is what kids did up there. That's how the countryside got etched into my heart as our proper place to be. In my first college summer a friend and I travelled from Michigan to Alaska, mainly by hitch-hiking. We made it all the way to Point Barrow, camping on the shore of the Arctic Ocean as the midnight sun circled down, along the horizon, and back up into the sky. Somehow I felt like I was always in my own backyard on that trip, which, if you think outside the box a bit, I was. I liked that feeling. When I started working in the Detroit corporate world (Chrysler) I found I had to balance the urban lifestyle by heading out into the "wilds" for my vacations. I wanted to learn how to keep that "in my own backyard" feeling, so over a twenty year span I was a student of many outdoor schools, both big and small, trying to learn from the experts.

My training was wide ranging, covering all seasons. I have been with Outward Bound, the National Outdoor Leadership School, the American Alpine Institute, the Boulder Outdoor Survival School, the Rabbitstick Rendezvous, Tom Brown's Tracker School, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Outdoor Education Program, the Yellowstone Association in Yellowstone National Park, John Young's Wilderness Awareness School, the Tracking Project with John Stokes, Earth-Heart in Montana, Karamat Wilderness Ways, Weatherbee's Botanical Tours, North House Folk School's Winterer's Gathering, Northland College's Wordscapes environmental writing program, and literally dozens of mini field courses with the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens Adult Ed Program. That program got me into all kinds of nooks and crannies throughout Michigan that I never knew existed, even back in the U.P., with many of the courses taught by UM professors like Ed Voss, Herb Wagner, Burt Barnes, and by the program director then, the incomparable Ellen Elliott Weatherbee. If any SOLAR members are curious about any of these organizations just ask and I'll gladly give my opinions of them.

I like the idea behind SOLAR, where people share what they know and have learned in the outdoors. After taking just a couple of SOLAR classes I felt that the experience was as good as that offerred by many of the professional organizations out there. So I joined as a lifetime member and helped with a couple of classes like mountaineering and rock climbing. I've always had the problem, though, of not enough time to do more things with the club. This is my first position on the Steering Committee as I attempt to remedy that and give more of my experience to SOLAR.

Jim can be reached via email.