The founder and executive director
As the founder and executive director of The American Adventure Service Corps Mike Fischesser serves as a guiding resource for the philosophy, safety, and design of TAASC. Focusing on outdoor program safety, management of programs, and advanced skill trainings, it is easy to see how Scouting and Outward Bound have been a large part of his background.
From 1963 through 1971 he was actively involved in Scouting in North Carolina. Campcraft, aquatic safety, backpacking, teaching, canoe trips and major responsibilities at a young age laid a strong foundation for becoming involved with Outward Bound in 1971.
In 1978, at the age of 26, Mike was asked to direct the programs of the North Carolina Outward Bound School. As Program Director, he hired all the instructional staff and supervised all NCOBS programs for the next seven years. In 1983 Mike developed the idea for the Kurt Hahn Leadership Center.
After 14 years with the North Carolina Outward Bound School, Mike joined the Outward Bound USA’s National Headquarters with the task of overseeing a National Training Institute. While at National, he conducted many national safety reviews for the various OB programs around the country. A new Outward Bound school was developed in New York City and Mike was asked to consult with them, which he did for eight months.
After helping the New York City Outward Bound Center, Mike recognized that he was beginning to entertain a number of consultation requests for advanced trainings, safety reviews, unique ropes course designs and program management ideas, which resulted in the formation of Alpine Towers, Inc. After developing Alpine Towers, Inc. into one of the most successful and respected challenge course companies in the world, Mike and his wife Nina recently sold the company so Mike could further develop The American Adventure Service Corps concept. Mike and Nina live in their log home on the edge of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area in North Carolina.
Since the early 1970s, Mike has participated in many climbing, caving, paddling, and ski mountaineering trips, written many technical articles on caving, and organized over 30 major expeditions. He served as the chairman of the Safety Committee for the National Speleological Society for seven years.
Since his Scouting adventures, Mike had always had an interest in exploring areas less traveled by others. In pursuit of this interest, he has been outward bound in such places as the Bio Bio of Chile, Peruvian Andes, deep pit caves and volcanoes of Mexico, the Icefield Ranges of the Yukon, Denali, and rivers of the Northwest Territories.
In 1996 Mike created this unique, new, non-profit program for youth. Of all his creations, he is most proud of The American Adventure Service Corps.
Program Director Jacob Cioffoletti
Jacob Cioffoletti, a former student of ten years, is one of two program directors for Morganton TAASC. Following graduating from TAASC, Jacob continued his experience and education at Appalachian State University where he studied Recreation Management and Building Science. While in school, Jacob worked to gain experience in all realms of guiding and instructing from managing outdoor retail to snowboard instructing
Jacob Cioffoletti and Whisper Smith
Following his time at Appalachian State, Jacob worked seasonally as a glacier and ice climbing guide in Alaska and a snowboard and ski instructor in Colorado before returning to Morganton. Jacob is a current certified guide and instructor holding the following certifications: American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor, NOLS Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Avalanche One, SAI Wilderness Lifeguard, and others.
Jacob continues to play outdoors whenever he is not programming, instructing, and part-time building. Outside of weekend boating, climbing, or biking trips, Jacob's true passion lies in winter mountaineering and ice climbing expeditions.
Program Director Whisper Smith
Whisper Smith, a former student of two years, is one of two Morganton TAASC Program Directors. Following her experience as a TAASC member, Whisper pursued her undergraduate degree in Ecology and Field Biology at the University of North Carolina Asheville. While in school, Whisper ran Asheville TAASCs Young Girls Program, worked various other children's programs, and taught ecology in schools.
Post Undergraduate, Whisper also worked seasonally in Alaska as a Glacier Guide and as a ski instructor in Colorado before returning to Morganton. Whisper holds the following current certifications: NOLS Wilderness First Responder, SAI Wilderness Lifeguard, and is working toward her American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor exam.
Whisper spends her free time rock climbing, mountain biking, paddling, and anything else that involves getting outside. She looks forward to summer and winter travels to summit big mountains and explore new trails and crags.