Meet the Aquaventure Staff
Steve owns Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center and manages day-to-day operations. Steve has experience working in the underwater photo industry from shooting, testing, repairing, and distributing for various manufacturers including INON America, Fisheye, and Watershot Inc. Steve enjoys both recreational and technical diving and is certified on various closed cicuit and semi-closed circuit rebreathers. He is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, an SDI Instructor Trainer, as well as an IANTD & TDI Instructor. Steve's passion for the underwater world is contagious and he enjoys inspiring others to dream big and seek adventure!!
Steve & Jolene's photo gallery, Palau, Fiji, Cozumel
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Apeks harness & wings, Apeks XTX200, Suunto Cobra 3, DUI TLS350 drysuit
Photo gear: Canon 7d, T1i, Nauticam & Watershot housings, INON Z-240 strobes, INON S-2000 Strobe, Tokina 10-17mm, Canon 60mm, Sigma 8-16mm, Sigma 10-20mm, Watershot video lights, GoPro 2 with EZUWA Flat Port
Steve's wife, Jolene, also owns and manages Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center. She is passionate about diving and people. She loves kids and believes the sport of diving is for the entire family - children included! Jolene is a PADI & SDI Instructor and she is also a photography enthusiast. She previously managed INON America (UW photo equip distribution company). Jolene also has 14 years of corporate experience in the technology field and in management at a Fortune 100 company. She keeps the backoffice running smoothly at Aquaventure!
Steve & Jolene's photo gallery
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Suunto Cobra, DUI CLX450 drysuit
Photo gear: Canon 7d, T1i, Nauticam & Watershot housings, INON Z-240 strobes, INON S-2000 Strobe, Tokina 10-17mm, Canon 60mm, Sigma 8-16mm, Sigma 10-20mm
Ryan is a jack of all trades at Aquaventure. He is the store manager, PADI scuba instructor, and gas blender. Ryan has been diving since 1993 and he enjoys traveling to Hawaii, Bahamas, Fiji, and Australia, but you can also find him diving locally in Crosby, Lake Wazee, Ore-be-gone, and the North Shore of Lake Superior. You can also find Ryan leading dive programs at the world's largest aqaurium, SeaLife, in Mall of America. Ryan enjoys shooting underwater video and has a knack for capturing and creating fun and interesting videos for Aquaventure.
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Apeks XTX200, Suunto Cobra 3, Suunto D4, DUI TLS350 drysuit
Photo gear: GoPro 2 with EZUWA Flat Port, JVC Picsio, Ikelite W-20 lens, Ikelite Pro V8 video light
Ryan is a retail specialist, gas blender, and PADI instructor for Aquaventure with experience teaching in the Florida Keys. His love for diving is easily seen as he enjoys talking about diving to everyone who enters the store. Ryan is also an avid free diver. When not working at Aquaventure, or holding his most important position as "Mr. Mom" at home, you can find him riding hammerhead sharks with his friends from the Shark Research Institute in Bimini, Bahamas. Ryan enjoys the local shipwrecks but his favorite dive site is: "Anywhere warm in the Caribbean!"
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Suunto Cobra 3, DUI TLS350 drysuit
Photo gear: GoPro 2 with EZUWA Flat Port
Gerry is well known in the dive community as "The Guy" for scuba equipment service and repair. He has been diving for many years with a divemaster rating and is well versed in both recreational and technical diving. He has traveled to many exciting destinations over the years. Currently, Gerry provides our clients with top-notch equipment service in the Aquaventure Service Department and assists as a retail specialists too.
Gary was introduced to scuba in a high school gym class and immediately fell in love with scuba diving. However, life took Gary in a different direction as he went on to explore his other great passion, architecture, and has worked in the profession for over thirty-one years. Gary is a retail specialist and a Master Scuba Diver Trainer at Aquaventure. The only thing Gary loves more than scuba diving is teaching scuba diving! He especially enjoys helping people who have anxieties about scuba diving and enjoys nothing better than to see the joy on his students' faces when they come to embrace the underwater world and scuba. Gary enjoys leading Aquaventure-sponsored local fun dives and trips to exotic dive destinations.
Gary enjoys diving in Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes and especially the Great Lake's shipwreck diving…and even ice diving! For warm water destinations, some of Gary's favorites spots are the Florida Keys, Cozumel, and Isla Mujeres because of the great diving, people, cultures (and food!).
“I love being underwater and introducing people to this wonderful sport. I have never forgotten my first breath underwater and the feeling of being “weightless”. For me, I just love the aesthetic experience of “blowing bubbles” and being neutrally buoyant! I believe that I have a certain knack for teaching in a very caring and non-threatening way that helps people learn and get over their fears and anxieties. I also believe that I am able to help/instruct students who may have special accommodation needs.”
Dive gear: Aqualung BCD, Aqualung Regulators, Henderson/DeepSee/NeoSport Wetsuits
Photo gear: Sea & Sea 2G with DX-2G Housing and YS-90 Strobe
Mike is a project manager for an engineering/construction firm full time and an avid diver. While diving for the past eleven years, he has progressed through many specialty training classes including PADI and SDI Scuba Instructor.
"I became an instructor because I enjoy introducing people to my passion of scuba diving." Mike's favorite local diving is on the shipwrecks of Isle Royale.
"I can't get enough of diving in Isle Royal. Every time I dive on a wreck I always see something different. Not only are the wrecks pristine, but the island itself is beautiful to explore." During the winter months you can find Mike and his wife Sandy enjoying a week or two diving in some exotic location. He has dove throughout the Caribbean, the kelp forests of California, Truk Lagoon and Palau. Where will you see him next? In class or the Galapagos Islands!
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Aqualung regulators, Suunto Cobra, DUI TLS350 drysuit
Mike teaches the instructor programs at Aquaventure. He started diving in 1975, teaching in 1978 and became a PADI Course Director in 1984. Having owned and operated a PADI 5 Star Dive Center for over 24 years, he has “dived the world”. Truk Lagoon and the Galapagos Islands are two of his favorite diving experiences. Introducing divers to their first experience underwater and instilling in instructor candidates the importance of their role in changing people’s lives are highlights of teaching for Mike. When not diving, Mike enjoys sailing Lake Superior with his wife Sue, and volunteering as a Public Safety Diver and K9 Handler.
Dive gear: SeaQuest Blk. Diamond & Balance, Apeks ATX100, Suunto Cobra
Photo gear: GoPro 2 with EZUWA Flat Port
Mark is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. He enjoys all that our local diving has to offer. From the city lakes to central Minnesota's mine pits to the great lakes. Mark has experience in all of them. His favorite warm water destinations are Palau and the Bahamas where he leads groups of high schoolers on science based liveaboard trips.
Dive gear: Aqualung Balance, Apeks XTX200, Suunto Cobra, DUI CLX450 drysuit
Photo gear: Canon T1i with Watershot housing, Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobe
Drew is a part time fireman as well as a PADI scuba instructor. Besides his passion for local diving, Drew has lead trips for Aquaventure to Roatan and Bonaire. He also enjoys tech diving the great lakes shipwrecks and lobster hunting in the Florida Keys. Drew has worked with all types of divers including handicapped diver helping make their dreams come true.
Dive gear: Aqualung Balance BCD, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Suunto Cobra, DUI CLX450 drysuit
Laurie is a PADI instructor with a passion for teaching all levels of diving. She looks forward to local diving events and meeting everyone in the local dive community. Her favorite dive locations are Cozumel and Fiji. If anyone is looking for a dive buddy, give Laurie a call. She's ready to go!
Dive gear: Aqualung Pro QD, Aqualung Legend, Suunto Cobra 3
Photo gear: Canon S100 in Ikelite housing, INON S-2000 strobe, INON UWL-100 lens
Brian has been an avid diver since 1985. Across that time he has been drawn into many types of diving and dive activities across all levels. From Sport/Recreational to Technical diving. Although he enjoys warm-water destinations immensely he gets more opportunities diving locally. His favorite dives are Great Lakes ship wrecks – mostly in Lake Superior, Michigan, and Huron. “The wrecks in these lakes stack up to any in the world and are far better than most.” Brian has most recently has taken up underwater photography and videography.
Dive gear (Sport): Apex Black Ice BCD, Apeks XTX200, Suunto Cobra II, DUI CF200 drysuit.
Dive gear (Technical): Megalodon eCCR, Posiden Xstream Deep and Deco regulators on bailout.
Photo gear: Canon 60D with Nauticam housing, Tokina 10-17 lens and 8.5 in dome port. Inon z240 strobe for still photography and a pair of Watershot V3000 lights for video. Also a Go Pro Hero 3 for those shallower tight locations.
Dawn works in the Information Technology field. In her spare time she works as a PADI and SDI Instructor. She also actively dives the Midwest and enjoys traveling the world. Some of her favorite locations include Roatan, Honduras and Cozumel. She enjoys diving with her daughter and son, who have also been diving for several years.
Dive gear: AqualungPearl BCD, Aqualung Legend, Suunto Cobra 3, DUI TLS350 drysuit
While in the US Navy, I was lucky enough to have friends on the UDT team, that taught many of us how to scuba dive. At that time we started an on-board ship “dive for fun” club, diving many places in the Far East. My love for scuba continued after the service and I enrolled in a certification course with a dive shop in Minneapolis called Jack the Frogmen. We scuba dove Lake Superior in wet suits - brrrrrrrr. What’s great about scuba, it’s a family sport that can be enjoyed by all. (yes, you can scuba all four seasons in Minnesota) I became a PADI scuba diving instructor 15 years ago and my teaching assistant (my wife) has been a divemaster for the last 15 years. We enjoy all diving experiences from the Caribbean, Hawaii, Lake Superior, and just fun diving in the many Minnesota lakes. I believe in the slogan: “Good Divers are always learning”. The dive fun begins with the open water class, and continues with the many levels of certification that are offered by PADI training. Dan is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer .
Dive gear: Aqualung Balance BCD, Aqualung Legend, Suunto Cobra, DUI TLS350 drysuit
Melissa started diving 12 years ago, when she moved to Florida to study Marine Biology at the University of West Florida. Originally, she got certified at a NAUI dive shop near the Navy base in Pensacola to do marine biology research in the Wakatobi National Marine Park and Dry Tortugas while in school, and participated in the SCUBA Club at her University. While in the pan handle of Florida, Melissa dove many wrecks sunk between Pensacola, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama including battle ships, tug boats, fighter jets, and aircraft carriers. Her favorite dive location is at Operation Wallacea, a British run marine biology research station, in Southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Over the years, Melissa has done research in the realm of fish physiology on the Common Mudskipper, Sand Flat Goby, Atlantic Stingray, Blue-Spotted Ribbontail Ray, Red Snapper, and many many species of juvenile bony fish. After diving for 10 years in various places around the world, Melissa decided to pursue her Dive Master under PADI. She continued her certifications until she obtained her Dive Master in 2012. Melissa was amazed that no matter how much diving you have done as an individual, you realize how much you DON’T know; when you move on to get your Dive Master! Melissa would encourage anyone to get their Dive Master; whether you desire to work as a dive professional, or you are looking to increase your knowledge-base and safety, you will find the Dive Master Program to be extremely rewarding, challenging, and fun!
Kathy is a divemaster at Aquaventure and fills in around the shop when needed. When Kathy started diving in 2007, she hoped to overcome some anxiety of ‘things lurking beneath the surface’– especially sharks. Now she is a divemaster and conducts dive programs in a shark exhibit at the SeaLife aquarium in Mall of America!! She is absolutely amazed at the magnificent creatures to be seen in both fresh and salt water environments. Her passion for diving evolved into a deep desire to inspire and encourage others to explore the beauty and fragility of aquatic life, and personally assist and teach divers in the development of their own skills and confidence in the underwater world. Whether diving in Minnesota, Mexico, or in some of the largest aquariums in the world – the sense of peace and tranquility that she experiences while diving is unfathomable, indescribable, and something she desires to help others comprehend.
Rob is a computer programmer by day and a scuba diver, well, whenever he gets the chance! He has been diving for several years now and remembers his first dive vividly. “I remember the joy and excitement from that first dive and being immediately hooked. What I love most about being a Dive Master with Aquaventure is seeing that same joy and excitement with others when they experience their first dive”. Whether it is the local pits / lakes or the Caribbean, Rob loves to dive pretty much anywhere. His favorite dive so far is drift diving in Cozumel. His wife and 2 sons are all certified and enjoy diving together as a family.
Chuck and Steph Johnson
Chuck and Steph were certified in 1998, we fell in love with diving so much that just a year later we became Dive masters and have enjoyed helping new divers ever since. Chuck has explored different areas of diving also, including rebreathers and Advanced Nitrox and decompression procedures. Steph through the years was an integral part of the seal and bubblemaker teams
Dive gear: Various Zeagle BCD's, Apeks regulators, Suunto Cobra, DUI TLS350 drysuit, and a trailor full of dive goodies!