Toad&Co Ambassador Spotlight: Gwyn and Ami Manser

Our Ambassador Program celebrates making a difference together. Our partners’ goals and community involvement all look a little different yet are unique to them and their corners of the world.

Gwyn and Ami Maser are an outdoor adventuring, West Coast-based couple. Gwyn just finished her Ph.D. focusing on sustainable agriculture and community, while Ami works in civil engineering. They spend their weekends traveling, exploring trails and parks, and trying to see as much of the world as possible while balancing their 9-5’s.

We had an inspirational conversation with both to talk about responsibly enjoying the outdoors, their involvement in the LGBTQ+ community… and we also might have made them choose a single favorite hiking location. 

Toad: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us! Let’s start with chatting about your rad careers outside of content creation. We heard you’re moving and have some new opportunities coming up – big cheers to that!

Gwyn & Ami: We both work full-time outside of content creation! Ami is a civil engineer focusing on river restoration. She works on projects that improve aquatic ecosystems and remove dams. She loves getting outside with her job - field work days are way better than days sitting behind the computer looking at engineering models. Gwyn is finishing up a Ph.D. in Geography. She studies sustainable food systems and agriculture, and also teaches college courses. She loves teaching and learning from her undergraduate students!

And thank you! We are so excited to be in Washington exploring our favorite parts of the PNW! 

Toad: Both of your careers sound fulfilling and like you get be outside for work, too! When did you first begin adventuring in the outdoors? And how does your van build – which originally launched your Instagram – play into getting outside?

Gwyn & Ami: We have both been adventuring since we were little! Summer days were spent outside in the yard with our dads and going camping and hiking with our families. Our first date was a hike, which was fitting! 

Building the van was our initial response to the pandemic. We were planning on traveling abroad in 2020, but obviously that ended up not being possible. So, we decided to build the van and pursue West Coast adventures! It was the best decision we’ve made!

Toad: On the note of adventuring outside, how do you balance enjoyment in the outdoors and sharing with your community on Instagram?

Gwyn & Ami: Funnily enough, everything we show on Instagram is more or less exactly how we live our lives anyway - we hike A LOT! The only difference is that when working with brands for content creation we have set deadlines. Usually that doesn’t bother us at all, but there are some weeks where work has been super busy and we’d rather stay home and rest, but we know we have to go on an adventure to get the content we need.

It’s definitely a balance that’s taken some getting used to, especially with working full-time, but I think we have the hang of it now, and we know our limitations. 

Toad: We love your down-to-earth perspectives and following along with your adventures. Your Instagram has grown into so much more than simply van adventures! One thing we love is your emphasis that when you go on a hike or visit a new place, both of you “don’t check your identities at the door.” Can you talk about your representation for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in the outdoors? 

Gwyn & Ami: Ironically, being a queer couple is not a HUGE part of our outward identity. We are so thankful that we are comfortable and confident with who we are as humans, so showing up authentically to the outdoors is a no-brainer for us. We’re happy that our Instagram profile just authentically shows off who we are - there’s no agenda there other than hoping that we can inspire folks to just get outside and be themselves! 

Toad: You both do such a great job of that! Relatedly, being an ally for the LGBTQ+ community is so important right now. Can you speak toward what allyship looks like for both of you, particularly in the outdoors?

Gwyn & Ami: There is a lot of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric going around right now. It’s tough to see and experience. Pride month isn’t all about rainbows and parades. Pride started as a riot at Stonewall, and that same energy continues today. Pride is, and always has been, a fight for basic human rights.

This year (especially this year!) is no different. We want people (allies and non-allies alike) to recognize that Pride isn’t a month to flaunt our sexuality and gender-identity - it’s a month to speak up and say, “Hey! We are human beings who want to be treated with respect, who want to be afforded the right to live our lives authentically and fully!” 

Check in on the LGBTQ folks in your life - ask them how their Pride month went! It was a rough one this year. 

Toad: Thank you for being authentically you and speaking toward this! It has been a tough year with even tougher conversations. Continuing the momentum, we are asking all of our Ambassadors this question: what does “doing good” mean to you?

Gwyn & Ami: We are firm believers in treating yourself, others, and nature well. We fully believe that bringing good intentions to your relationship with others, celebrating each other’s joys and empathizing with each other’s losses, and treating nature with a deep respect is the spark we need to “do good” on this planet.  

Toad: Yes! Beautifully said and we could not agree more. We have two more questions for each of you to answer individually. First, finish this sentence: “every day I aspire to…”

Ami: Every day I aspire to get outside. It’s a simple sentiment, but getting outside, breathing fresh air, watching the birds fly around is the daily-medicine I need to stay grounded in life. 

 Gwyn: Every day I aspire to inspire others to get outside, have fun, and pursue their adventure dreams.

Toad: Finally – and this is going to be a hard one – what is your favorite hiking location?

Ami: I have to choose ONE?! I absolutely LOVE Desolation Wilderness in California. It’s where I first learned to backpack. The craggy granite domes are home to me. 

Gwyn: North Cascades National Park! I love the craggy mountain tops, the steep elevation, the wildflowers, and the amazingly blue glacially carved lakes. 

Connect with Gwyn and Ami on Instagram @gwynandami to follow along on their adventures.