Our full service photo department provides instruction and equipment consultation, and we have a retail center offering one of the largest selections of scuba gear and equipment service in the Midwest.
Aquaventure’s travel department hosts between 10-14 feature trips per year to variety of exotic destinations. Owners Steve and Jolene Philbrook are hands-on leaders who have built a team dedicated to providing personalized service to both new and seasoned divers.
Meet the Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center Staff
Steve owns Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center and oversees day-to-day operations. Steve has experience working in the underwater photo industry from shooting professionally, testing, repairing, and distributing for various manufacturers including INON America, Fisheye, and Watershot Inc. Steve enjoys both recreational and technical diving and is certified on various closed cicuit and semi-closed circuit rebreathers. He is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, an SDI Instructor Trainer, as well as an IANTD & TDI Instructor. Steve’s passion for the underwater world is contagious and he enjoys inspiring others to dream big and seek adventure!
Dive gear: Aqualung Outlaw BCD, Scubapro Hydros Pro, Apeks XTX200, Scubapro MK219/G260 Black Tec regulators, Aqualung i550 computer, Shearwater Teric, DUI TLS350 Drysuit
Photo gear: Canon 5D MKIV, Nauticam NA-5DMKIV housing, INON strobes, INON and Kraken video lights
Steve’s wife, Jolene, also owns and manages Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center. She is passionate about diving and people. She loves kids and believes the sport of diving is for the entire family – children included! She organizes the kids programs as well as coordinates the many travel adventures Aquaventure offers. Jolene is a PADI & SDI Instructor and she is also a photography enthusiast. She previously managed INON America (UW photo equip distribution company). Jolene also has 14 years of corporate experience in the technology field and in management at a Fortune 100 company. She keeps the backoffice running smoothly at Aquaventure!
Dive gear: Aqualung Lotus BCD, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Aqualung i550c, DUI CLX450 Drysuit
Photo gear: Canon 70D, Nauticam NA-70D housing, INON strobes, and Kraken video lights.
Ryan is Aquaventure’s Senior Repair Tech as well as a retail Manager, gas blender, and PADI instructor for Aquaventure with experience teaching in the Florida Keys. His love for diving is easily seen as he enjoys talking about diving to everyone who enters the store. Ryan is also an avid free diver. When not working at Aquaventure, or holding his most important position as “Mr. Mom” at home, you can find him riding hammerhead sharks with his friends from the Shark Research Institute in Bimini, Bahamas. Ryan enjoys the local shipwrecks but his favorite dive site is: “Anywhere warm in the Caribbean!”
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Suunto Cobra 3, Suunto D6i, DUI TLS350 Drysuit
Photo gear: Sony NEX-5N, Nauticam NA-NEX5 housing, GoPro Hero3+, Sealiufe Sea Dragon Mini
Brittany started diving in 2014, when she went on her high school dive trip to Roatan, Honduras. Caught the bug from that moment and continued to plan dive trips every summer to the Cayman Islands with her uncle as well as chaperoning other high school trips where students were learning to dive. Brittany started her PADI Divemaster in the spring of 2021 and was soon hired by Aquaventure. Before, Brittany taught preschool and on the side she coaches competitive volleyball at the high school level. Brittany’s favorite place to dive to date has been Bonaire where she saw her first Manta Ray cruising in the shallows. Brittany loves to travel to tropical destinations and aspires to be an instructor soon!
Jace can be seen with his big smile working the sales floor at Aquaventure. He is our tank fill station specialist. Jace loves all kinds of diving! From Lake Ore-be-gone to the Bahamas to Palau! He loves all marine life especially sharks, mantas, and nudibranchs! Jace is working to become a PADI Divemaster and eventually an Instructor.
Melissa started diving in 2001, when she moved to Florida to study Marine Biology at the University of West Florida. Originally, she got certified at a NAUI dive shop near the Navy base in Pensacola to do marine biology research in the Wakatobi National Marine Park and Dry Tortugas while in school, and participated in the SCUBA Club at her University. While in the pan handle of Florida, Melissa dove many wrecks sunk between Pensacola, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama including battle ships, tug boats, fighter jets, and aircraft carriers. Her favorite dive location is at Operation Wallacea, a British run marine biology research station, in Southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Over the years, Melissa has done research in the realm of fish physiology on the Common Mudskipper, Sand Flat Goby, Atlantic Stingray, Blue-Spotted Ribbontail Ray, Red Snapper, and many many species of juvenile bony fish. After diving for 10 years in various places around the world, Melissa decided to pursue her Dive Master under PADI. She continued her certifications until she obtained her Dive Master in 2012. Melissa was amazed that no matter how much diving you have done as an individual, you realize how much you DON’T know; when you move on to get your Dive Master! Melissa would encourage anyone to get their Dive Master; whether you desire to work as a dive professional, or you are looking to increase your knowledge-base and safety, you will find the Dive Master Program to be extremely rewarding, challenging, and fun!
Heather is a semi-retired nurse and also works part time here at the shop. She became a PADI instructor in 2021 and enjoys teaches scuba classes. Heather enjoys traveling the world with her husband scuba diving amazing destinations. Her favorite to date is the Galapagos Islands.
Heather dives Aqualung and Scubapro gear.
Ben “Captain America” Moore is one of our equipment service technicians as well as a photography expert here at Aquaventure. His passion is macro photography. Ben can be seen laying in the muck playing with all sorts of little creatures! He enjoys all kinds of diving, recreational and technical.
Dive gear: Aqualung Zuma, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Suunto Cobra 3, DUI CLX450 Drysuit
Photo gear: Canon 70D, Nauticam NA-70D housing, INON Z-240 strobes, INON S-2000 Strobe, Tokina 10-17mm, Canon 60mm, INON UCL-165M67, INON UCL-330 close-up lenses
Erik is Aquaventure’s PADI Course Director and Training Director. Erik has been fascinated with the underwater world for as long as he can remember. He enjoys all things related to water – in it, on it, and especially beneath it! Erik enjoys teaching divers of all levels and abilities. Each level provides a different set of challenges and opportunities. Sharing this unique world with new divers is more than a passion – it is a transformation. Once someone gets salt water in their veins it will be there forever. Where is my favorite place to dive…diving is awesome everywhere you go because divers are awesome everywhere you go! His favorite part of diving is traveling to new locations, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new and exciting people. If you want to have fun traveling the world and diving in new places join me on one of Aquaventure group trips!
Dive gear: Aqualung Rogue BCD, Apeks XTX200 Regulator, Aqualung i450 Computer, Aqualung Aquaflex Wetsuits
Melanie has been diving for a few short years, but became immediately passionate about the sport and quickly pursued her Dive Master Certification through Aquaventure and is now a PADI Staff Instructor. She has a passion for travel and adventure as well as teaching. She is a full time Fitness Instructor and Certified Personal Trainer outside of diving and has a love for all types of movement. She enjoys teaching all levels and is passionate about helping people get underwater for the first time. Melanie loves to go on Aquaventure group trips so feel free to reach out about any questions you have!
Mike is an avid diver! He works the sales floor and is a trip leader for Aquaventure. Mike is a PADI MSDT and SDI Scuba Instructor. “I became an instructor because I enjoy introducing people to my passion of scuba diving.” Mike’s favorite local diving is on the shipwrecks of Isle Royale. “I can’t get enough of diving in Isle Royal. Every time I dive on a wreck I always see something different. Not only are the wrecks pristine, but the island itself is beautiful to explore.” During the winter months you can find Mike enjoying a week or two diving in some exotic location. He has dove throughout the Caribbean, the kelp forests of California, Truk Lagoon and Palau. Where will you see him next? In class or the Galapagos Islands!
Jamie is a dentist and owner of Arbor Lakes Dental. Her other passion is scuba diving. She was originally certified to dive as a young adult but did not have the opportunity to dive as much as she wanted to. In 2012 a dear family friend asked her to dive with him in Belize. Because it had been so many years since Jamie had been diving, she felt she should refresh her knowledge and skills. The instructors at Aquaventure immediately revived her excitement and love for diving. Jamie is now a PADI scuba instructor and shares her passion of diving with people of all ages. When asked where her favorite place to dive is, she will answer, “Every Where!”. Whether it is the pond behind her office or Belize, there are always great things to see under water.
Dive gear: Aqualung Rogue BCD, Aqualung Titan LX Supreme regulator, Aqualung i450T computer
Brett is an Instructor at Aquaventure and works in the engineering department for Firestone. In 1998 he joined the Navy and was encouraged to take a Discover Scuba while stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI. Originally, he had no desire to go in or near the ocean, but his thoughts quickly changed and for the next three years he dove all around the island of Oahu. His favorite dive was a dive site called three tables. It consists of three lava formations that a diver walks on while trying to avoid the sea urchins. In 2008, he took a trip to Cozumel with Mike Daust and soon after he became a Dive Master. He enjoys diving with his wife and video editing in his spare time.
Hannu caught the scuba diving bug just in 2018 in Hawaii and is now making up for lost time. Hannu became an instructor in 2021 and is now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. He loves, loves, loves to introduce people to this fabulous sport! If you’re willing to listen, Hannu will talk about scuba all day . . . ! His favorite dive destinations — after Square Lake, of course — are Bonaire and Roatan.
Favorite piece of gear: Shearwater Teric – the greatest thing since sliced bread
Adam is an Instructor with Aquaventure. He has been diving since 2004 when he convinced his wife to get certified with him to fulfill a lifelong goal. Adam enjoys introducing and teaching new divers to his favorite pastime, as well as helping certified divers gain confidence through diving experiences and specialty training courses. In his spare-time he enjoys diving local lakes, the Cuyuna mine pits, and Great Lakes shipwrecks. His favorite distant dive experiences include Resurrection Bay Alaska, diving with the manta rays in Hawaii, and diving with his wife and three kids anywhere! One day he hopes to dive the Red Sea.
Gear – Aqualung Axiom BCD, Aqualung Legend Regulator, Aqualung i450T Computer, DUI TLS 350 Drysuit
Noel is a business owner and avid outdoor enthusiast. Primary passions besides diving are spending time with family, traveling, camping, hunting elk and other big game animals in western states as well as here in the Midwest. After spending most of his life seeking adventure on land, the water and fascination below it, finally caught up with him on a vacation to Cozumel! He became a PADI instructor in 2021 and loves to teach and share the scuba lifestyle with new and experienced divers.
Sherwin is a Scuba Instructor with Aquaventure. He, along with his son, got certified in 2019 after being mesmerized by the underwater sights during a Snuba activity that same year
Equipment: i770R, DUI Yukon II Drysuit
Aaron is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer at Aquaventure. He started scuba diving in Hawaii with a Discover Scuba Diving experience in high school and was certified in Pennsylvania during college. After that, Aaron worked as a helicopter dunker trainer safety diver while he was in the Army and has continued diving since. He enjoys teaching scuba and helping people to discover the fantastic underwater world. Aaron teaches many different classes, but especially enjoys helping out with the PADI Seal Team! He likes diving everywhere, but his favorite place right now is Bonaire because of the flexible schedule that shore diving provides. When he’s not teaching in the local area, Aaron tries to go on warm water dive trips with his family as often as possible.
Drew is a financial consultant and part-time fireman as well as a PADI scuba instructor. Besides his passion for local diving, Drew has lead trips for Aquaventure to Roatan and Bonaire. He also enjoys tech diving the great lakes shipwrecks and lobster hunting in the Florida Keys. Drew is certified in adaptive scuba instruction – helping handicapped divers make their dreams come true! You can find Drew in the school systems informing and teaching elementary kids about the ocean and getting them excited about diving!
Dive gear: Aqualung Balance BCD, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten, Suunto Cobra, DUI CLX450 drysuit
Chris is a Software Developer with a passion for diving. He was born and raised in Michigan, spending considerable time at friend’s cabin each summer attempting to explore the water snorkeling. He’s had an interest in Oceanography since the 5th grade and grew up watching Jacque Cousteau specials with his dad. At one point we had talked about learning to dive, but figured we weren’t near an ocean.
Chris brought his family to Minnesota in 1992, where during the summer they would camp near various lakes around Minnesota. During a Florida vacation in 2012, his wife suggested they try diving, so they went on a DSD excursion. After vacation, they promptly started open water certification at Aquaventure. Soon after certification Chris began to dive local lakes with Paul and Wright County Diving.
Chris soon obtained his advanced open water certification. Chris loves working with people, really enjoys the people in the dive community, and enjoys advocating for the sport of diving. Through the encouragement of Erik, Mike, Paul and the Aquaventure Staff, he decided to pursue becoming a DM under the instruction of Erik, and is now considering becoming an instructor.
“The dive community is one of the most enjoyable communities I have encountered and am thrilled to be a part of that community. Divers I have met in all places have been friendly, encouraging, willing to share knowledge, talk about adventures and cool things they have seen…and then out comes the cell phone with the latest pictures!”
“I find diving to be calming, relaxing and exhilarating, as you get to live in the moment, and see things most people don’t. My only regret is that I didn’t learn to dive earlier in my life!”
“I have been and enjoy diving in many of the local lakes, several of the mine pits near Crosby, Lake Superior, Florida, Dominican Republic and Grand Cayman.. My favorite dive site is any place I happen to be diving!”
Equipment: i550c, AquaLung Titan LX, AquaLung Balance BC, warm wetsuit for Minnesota lakes
Brad started diving in 2001 when his daughter, 14 at the time, decided she wanted to be a marine biologist so diving lessons were her Christmas present and dad joined in. Since then Brad has balanced diving and a business career and started a dive club where he worked. With the start of the dive club and group dives, he quickly saw the value of further education and became a Dive Master in 2013. Along with Dive Master work, he also is part of the Tootsie Pop divers trip and enjoys the yearly trips for great diving.
Dive Gear: Aqualung Balance, Apeks XTX200, Suunto DCI6 computer
Jeff is a letter carrier with the USPS, but his passion is diving.
He was Open Water certified in 2011. Two years later he became a Dive Master and is now a PADI Instructor!
“I was originally intimidated by the sport but the staff at Aquaventure not only made it easy but made the learning fun. I’ve enjoyed every class I’ve taken, but the Dive Master course was my favorite”.
“I love both cold water and warm water diving. I’ve never had a bad dive trip, but if I were to pick a few favorites it would be shipwreck diving in the Straights of Mackinaw, drift diving in Cozumel and shore diving in Curacao”.
Equipment: Suunto Zoop computer; Aqualung Titan LX Regulator; Aqualung Pro LT BCD; DUI TLS 350 Dry Suit.
Camera: Go Pro