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Team Member Spotlight: Bob Burnette

Bob in Morocco
Bob in Morocco

Meet Bob Burnette! A top-notch east coast guide and group favorite, we’ve had the pleasure of working together for quite a few seasons now. Since the pandemic put a hold on spring travel plans, Bob has shifted his guiding online and now he’s available to lead customized virtual field trips upon request for our Academic Expeditions groups as well. This month it’s Bob’s turn in our AE blog spotlight! In recognition of his outstanding work, we sat down to learn more about the man behind the guide.


Q: How did you become a tour guide?

BB: Right out of college I started working at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. That job taught me a lot about history, guest services, and providing an experience for people which is what got me interested in tourism. My experience there led me to Washington DC by meeting many tour operators.


I’ve never really wanted a job where I sit at a desk and work a basic schedule, so this just fits. I definitely enjoy the interaction with students and teachers. It’s really fun to play a part in so many peoples’ lives by introducing them to the amazing history in DC and other places.


Bob guiding in Washington, DC


Q: What drew you to working with Academic Expeditions?

BB: I met Isaiah and Aaron in past employment and they both played a part in my decision to join the Academic Expeditions team. I was also really drawn to the model that Academic Expeditions uses to create tours for students, working directly with the teachers on almost all aspects of what they see and do.


Q: Do you have any favorite sites, or any favorite parts of history you like to share with students? 

BB: I love talking about the Civil War era in history. And Arlington National Cemetery in particular is a favorite site to take students, especially when it’s not busy. There’s tons to talk about there, and I love the Civil War connection to the cemetery.


Arlington National Cemetery


Q: Since the pandemic began, you have been sharing very informative virtual tours. Can you tell us a bit about them, and what inspired you to do them? 

BB: I have fun learning new things, and being a guide it feels natural to share those things. So while there is not a lot of work to do right now, I see it as a fun project to learn things in Washington DC, sometimes “hidden” corners that tend to be less visited. It seems to really resonate with people so it’s a win-win. I’ve always been one to use my time to do something productive for myself. There’s been times where my group has been late, and I’ll just go on a long walking tour of Arlington and find things I’ve never found before. I enjoy the off the beaten path aspect of travel, and I’m having fun seeing new places in my backyard.


The new Eisenhower Memorial (opening September 17, 2020)


Q: Tell us about your personal travels — places you love to visit, or perhaps a favorite vacation spot?

BB: I’m absolutely in love with Iceland. I’ve been there three times so far and could go many more. Just the landscape and the feeling there is simply beautiful. I’m an avid traveler and have recently been to Morocco, Portugal, and Ireland. My wife and I are planning our next trip to Japan, although it will probably be postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.


Bob at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland


Q: You’re also an avid guitar player! How long have you been playing, and what’s your favorite style of music?

BB: I’ve been playing music since I can remember. I started off playing drums and was very involved in my school’s band. My guitar playing really started in high school, so I’ve been playing for over 20 years now. My favorite genre of music of course relates to the era I grew up in, the nineties. My influence for writing and playing songs definitely came from the Alternative rock bands of that era. Radiohead is my favorite band.


Q: I have it under good authority that you have two cute animals at home. Can you share a bit about them? 

BB: I have a golden retriever named Rory, who is the sweetest dog you can ever meet. I wasn’t a dog person until I met my wife. Now I am hook, line and sinker. We recently just got a tuxedo cat named Frida who is not even six months old yet. She is a handful but keeps us laughing.


Bob and Rory


Thanks, Bob! We look forward to our continued work together, and to traveling together again in the near future.

If you would like to arrange a virtual field trip with Bob or another of our AE guides, contact us for more details!

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