Being Wild

means having the courage to bring the gift of all of who you are to all of what you do.

Chris’ Wild life serves as the canvas for her speaking and team building programs. She freely admits that much of what she’s learned about humanity comes from dogs and rivers—from her team of 16 sled dogs, who she helped breed, raise, and train, to her decades of guiding whitewater canoe trips. Combined, they create the perfect back-drop for memorable, easy to apply, lasting, and life-changing tools for individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations.

Chris Heeter - Leadership Speaker | Wilderness Guide | Poet

People always want to know how I got into guiding.
Well, it started young, with my mom getting our family outdoors on vacations, going to the Boundary Waters, hiking in Colorado, and many other adventures. I didn’t develop a lot of skills, but I learned to my core that wilderness feels like Home. Skills are easy to pick up after that!


Poetry is a natural form of writing for me.  For 10 years I wrote a Wild Thought every single Wednesday. They’ve shifted to monthly poems now, but every time I write one, I remember more clearly who I am

AlWehs with me in spirit, my beloved rescue dogs occasionally accompany me in ‘person’ to speaking engagements.


Speaker Highlights

  • Profiled on The Discovery Channel’s “National Geographic Today
  • Selected Top Ten Speaker of 2014 by MeetingsNet
  • National Speaker’s Association member and recipient of the 2011 Next Level Award
  • Flash-point Speaker at Meeting Professional International’s 2014 World Education Congress
  • Highest rated speaker at Meeting Professional International’s 2014 World Education Congress
  • Wilderness guide since 1984
  • Dog Musher (it began with just one husky 28 years ago, and grew rather exponentially)
  • Sat on the board of The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota
  • National Association of Women Business Owners Luminary award, 2008
  • George Williams College Distinguished Alumnae award recipient, 2010
  • Certified Wilderness First Responder
With a lot of help from the National Speakers Association, I learned about the business of speaking. The sled dogs, the wilderness trips, and ALL the experiences and stories have done the rest.


My favorite description of what it feels like to get to speak to an audience or work with a team comes from the speaker/poet David Whyte: “Good speech is half what you plan to say, and half what is listened out of you.”


Adorable TuuWeh
Tuu Weh
I got my first huskies in the brief time I lived in North Carolina!!! It grew to a team of 16. All these decades later, I still guide dogsledding trips with my dear friend who lives off the grid up north with 35 Alaskan Huskies.
As a rather obsessed hunter of Wild mushrooms, I have been know to carry over 13 pounds of chicken of the woods mushrooms — stuffed in my shirt with the sleeves tied together — for over 2 miles.

I grow a ridiculous amount of food in my back yard that I eat, share, and preserve. Truth be told, my quarter acre garden is a big sanity saver for me — insuring I get enough time with my hands (and feet) in dirt!


There is a hushed beauty that accompanies snow that soothes my soul. And the excitement in the sled dog yard when the snow comes is awfully contagious. Our favorite saying? There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

Being a Board Member at the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center (July 2006-June 2015), was an incredible experience. And…I got to release a Snowy Owl!


I’ve had the amazing privilege of guiding women’s wilderness trips since 1984… for other guiding companies and then starting The Wild Institute in 2001.

Wild Rice Harvester
This is canoeing and gardening combined…what could be better? Admittedly harvesting is the fun part, there is still parching, threshing, and winnowing to go before it’s ready to cook. (That’s why real hand-harvested, wood parched wild rice costs more.)
Certified Wilderness First Responder
These trainings are intense 60 hour courses with lectures, reading, and scenario after scenario. The instructors are really good at inventing realistic disasters… with lots of special effects.
Wood Heat
I have always loved building and cooking over fires on trips, so it is a natural extension to heat my ‘cabin in the city’ with wood as well. Fortunately, I also love cutting and splitting wood, so all the behind the scenes work involved in fueling my masonry wood stove is well worth it!!


Wild is about being ready to say Yes --

for your team, your organization, or yourself!