School For Outdoor Leadership, Adventure, and

Introducing Southeast Michigan to the Outdoors Since 1976

Steering Committee - New Member Updates Are Under Development

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.

Debbie Hendrickson

Vice President

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.

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.

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.

Doreen Byrne


I'm newer to SOLAR, having joined in 2015. I was interested in learning about new outdoor activities and new places to visit with other outdoor enthusiasts. I love the outdoors year-round, especially in our beautiful state. I enjoy camping, hiking, biking, and kayaking. When I added backpacking to my list of activities, the Basic Land Navigation and Beginning Backpacking classes offered through SOLAR prepared me for my new adventures. I love traveling and camping all around Michigan and visiting our national parks.

Doreen can be reached via email.

Kiran Balakrishnan

By Laws

Biography under development.

Kiran can be reached via email.

Dan Lehner


Biography under development.

Dan 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.

Mike Hobig


I have been a long time member and held another steering committee position, Membership, because I like to meet and greet people and love to be a booster for the club. I also like history and this low stress position lets me dabble in writing and historical inquiry, fun stuff and hopefully inspirational. I expect to lend my quirky perspective to the review of our SOLAR archives which are now a great end table in the front room at home. Look for the mental meanderings through our past and some current events that are really current history……

Mike can be reached via email.

Michael Seng


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.

Jeff Grossklaus


SOLAR member since 2015. Programs Chair since 2017. Enjoy meeting others and hearing their tales of adventure. Also, like to participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities, including camping, biking, hiking, cross country skiing and kayaking. In addition, I'm a huge live music fan and enjoy photography.

Jeff can be reached via email.

Arlene Pearson

Public Relations

From a young age I've loved the outdoors. SOLAR is a great place for adults and families to play outside and learn new skills. Whatever outdoor skills you wish to learn, experience, or share, chances are SOLAR has members with that expertise. One of my favorite skills learned was the navigation class - learning how to read maps and use a compass in the wilderness, when you have no GPS. Now I'm looking forward to backpacking in the U.P.

Arlene 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.