About Us

Nature is about discovery,
not of things, but oneself

Capt. John

Matt Helfinstein

Originally from Central Texas, I have always had a love of nature, especially the creepy crawly animals other people tend to shy away from. I have been teaching about watershed ecology in Fairfax and Arlington counties since 2012 and am never happier than when I see someone take a closer look and realize nature isn't really that scary after all. I love kayaking and hiking, and I never miss an opportunity to roll over some logs looking for snakes, spiders and bugs!

Quinn Lipetz

I am an avid fisherman and I love sharing my passion with others.  Nothing beats seeing a huge smile on a kid’s face as they catch their first fish.  I still cherish the memory of catching my first fish, a beautiful redeye rock bass, when I was 3.  I am currently studying conservation biology at the University of Mary Washington.  I take full advantage of the Rappahannock River only 5 minutes away.  Wherever I go I strive to leave the area better than I found it by picking up trash and returning all the cool critters I catch to their natural habitats.  See you out on the water!

Melodie Stehling

Melodie is an expert photographer and is happiest playing outdoors in nature.  She enjoys teaching others about animals and nature photography.  She can be found running wild in the hills foraging for food.  Hey Girl, that's a red ear slider not a sandwich! Watch Out Galileo!

Billy Wilken

Born on the shores of the Potomac River, I spent much of my life fishing, boating, and exploring in the rivers, creeks, and streams around this area.   I've devoted the past 30 years to becoming an expert in the field of experiential education either on a ropes course adventure trip or on a soccer field -- sometimes even in the corporate boardroom.  I aim to help people get better at whatever their charge is.  Kids are our future and that is where I invest most of my time somehow trying to save the world one kid at a time.

Virginia Maloney

Virginia is a teacher for Arlington County and a year round math tutor. As an educator, she sees first hand the benefits of getting kids outdoors and the importance of work and play balance for children. When she is not teaching, she enjoys getting outdoors with her family hiking, camping and fishing. She is happiest sharing with others, being around nature and the water.

Samantha Terry

Samantha has been exploring nature for as long as she can remember.  Growing up here in Northern Virginia, she loved catching bugs in her backyard, camping with her Girl Scout Troop, and looking for salamanders in streams on her grandparents' farm.  Now she's continuing to learn about the outdoors as she studies biology at The College of William and Mary, goes on hikes, and works in her garden.  She particularly loves to find wildflowers, bees, and snakes.

John Lipetz

Born in Arlington and raised in Vienna, I grew up playing in the creeks and lakes of NoVa. On a spring day when I was 3, my mom taught me to fish with a cane pole, a string and a bent safety pin for a hook. From that day on, I was the one hooked! All nature fascinated me, especially snakes! By age 10 I had gained a reputation for catching and removing snakes from neighbors' houses. My first business – Snake Rescue!  I love being outdoors with my family and friends.   Fish & Explore was born with the goal to let anyone experience outdoor adventure comfortably and confidently.


Brody is our much loved black lab.   He is very sweet, very spoiled, and always ready to spend a day outside with his family.

♥ Favorite Outdoor Spot - My backyard

♥ Coolest Critter Ever Encountered - Bunnies

♥ Dream Outdoor Trip - Anywhere there's water and dirt and food.  Did I mention food?

♥ Best Conservation Tip/Strategy - I don't litter, you shouldn't either. 

Our History

Fish and Explore is a experiential learning leader dedicated to developing programs that are well suited for all ages.  Our focus is on youth programs, which are structured around elements that naturally excite children – Animals, Water, and a little Dirt! Our programs build confidence in a natural way, by providing guided instruction to introduce anyone to the outdoors while allowing them to explore their abilities. Be it through fishing, exploring, or both, we will engage all explorers in the wonders of the great outdoors in a safe and fun environment.