Acadia National Park
Amanda hails from a small island off the coast of Downeast Maine, Mount Desert Island. MDI is home to Acadia National Park and was grateful to the hundreds of hiking trails out her back door. She grew up hiking, fishing, canoeing & camping. Living on the island allowed her to get her fill of the outdoors.
Her parents Linda & Marc Nighman still live on the island today. Linda has spent many years working at MDI hospital and Marc runs the Cranberry Fisherman's Lobster Co-op.
When she was 20 years old, Brooks took her first job as a deckhand aboard an 151' four masted schooner, The Margarett Todd. This was the summer after her first year of college at the University of Maine in Orono. Amanda graduated in 2010 with a Bachelors in Biology, with a Pre-vet concentration. With a degree in hand, she took to the water once again, craving more adventure. The 86' schooner Appledore would become her new vessel for offshore exploration, salt, and blue water horizons. During the short summer months, the crew lived as live-aboards and docked in Camden Harbor, ME. Come fall, the schooner would gear up for a 2,000 mile offshore Southbound transit to Key West, FL, where the boat would dock and give day trips to passengers, in the Spring the boat would make the North Bound delivery. Amanda has since done three deliveries aboard this vessel.
Sailing With NOAA...
The life of working on a schooner was exciting, but it wasn't the most profitable. Amanda then fell back on her Biology degree and began working with NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service as an At-Sea Monitor. This job demanded her to be at sea from 1-9 days aboard active ground fishing vessels monitoring the daily interactions of the fisherman with marine life. This included documenting, quantifying and speciating every organism that landed on deck of these fishing boats. This life was challenging but stimulating, glorifying the hard and humble life of fisherman and unveiling the creatures of the depths of the cold Northern Atlantic. In the 2 years she worked for NMFS she would see her fair share of whales, sharks, cod, guts & gulls.
After living the irregular life of jumping boat to boat & port to port, Brooks decided to part with NMFS and went back to the laid-back days of sailing aboard both the schooner Appledore and as the First-mate of a new boat out of Kennebunkport, Maine, the Pineapple Ketch. She worked the summer away hauling lines and educating passengers of marine life and the art of sailing. Amanda then weighed her options, she could follow the Appledore south to the heat of the Keys once again or she could find something new that kept her in the cold and snow (the latter was what she preferred). She made one last Southbound delivery aboard the Appledore, then flew back to embark on her new adventure, the art of Dog Mushing.
Mushing in New England...
Amanda discovered a large touring kennel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire through a college friend who had been mushing there for numerous years. Dog mushing came quick to her, finding many similarities between sailing and driving dogs with the linework, situational awareness and sleep deprivation. She soon learned every dogs name, their position, temperament and personality and was running 5-30 mile tours through the White Mountains. The bond that soon developed between Brooks and the four-leggers was rewarding, yet taxing--she was soon hooked on this new way of life.
Fishing the North Atlantic...
Once the trails had melted out and the mushing season was over, Amanda needed something to occupy herself during the summer months. A friend she had met during her stint aboard ground fishing boats, made her an offer, which she excitedly accepted. Amanda would now take to the sea again as the first mate of a two-man crewed scalloping boat, the Capt'n Lee with captain and teacher Captain Buzz Libby.
Working as a scalloper required long hours at sea. Their scalloping license allowed fishing in federal waters and a daily limit of 200 lbs. To reach the fishing grounds, Captain and Brooks would take turns at the helm, steaming 7 hrs through the night. They would reach the shoals at day break and fish anywhere from 4 to 16 hrs to reach their limit. Cpt. Buzz would drive through the 1-2 hr long tows, while Amanda would clear the deck and cut the meats out of the scallops. Once the 22 bushel baskets were full and stacked about the deck, the autopilot would be set and the two of them would cut for the 7 hr steam home to Port Clyde, Maine. Brooks continued fishing through the summer and winter of 2013-2014, but soon needed a vacation from the cold winter days at sea and asked for a two week mushing vacation at Husky Works in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Amanda's experience at the Bedortha's kennel was unlike anything she experienced at her previous kennel. After two weeks here, she applied to every big name in Alaska and landed a Musher/Tour Guide gig with Alaska Icefield Expeditions. Brooks packed up her house, put a few items in storage and within a few weeks she had a one-way ticket and made her way cross-country to pursue her dream of exploring the vast rugged wilderness of Alaska.
Dog camp was where she met Matt and after a summer of working together, Hall invited her back to Smokin' Ace Kennels as a handler. Amanda spent the winter helping train the race team in Two Rivers and learning first hand experience about the in's and out's of racing.
Mushing @ Smokin' Ace
Amanda has been with Smokin' Ace Kennel for 3 years now. She has raced a handful of mid-distance races between 50-200 miles. Brooks mainly works training the puppies ages 1-3. Once they graduate from her puppy school, they join the big guns on Halls' team and go for the gold! Brooks' loves working with the younger dogs, shaping them into well trained athletes is her passion. She loves learning each dogs unique personalities and figuring out what makes each dog tick. "A well trained dog is a happy dog!"
Two Rivers 200
Two Rivers 200