Divemasters

The sales, service and dive staff at Minnesota School of Diving are the people who are chiefly responsible for making scuba diving experiences with MSD so enjoyable for our customers. All of our staff started out as diving clients and while progressing through training and participation in diving activities, these individuals demonstrated an understanding and agreement with MSD'S philosophical approach to scuba diving; essentially - creating a positive, compassionate and nurturing environment for training; and organizing fun, social, and exciting experiences, which allow divers opportunities to enjoy their underwater passion. Here at Minnesota School of Diving we appreciate everything the staff does using their experience and knowledge of scuba diving to ensure a fun adventure for all of our customers. 

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Josh Duda
PADI Divemaster

Original Diver Certification Date: 2001

 

Diving History: Basic Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue and Dive Master Certified through MSD and Rapid Deployment, Search & Recovery and Blackwater Certified through Team Lifeguard Systems for the Crow Wing County Dive Rescue Squad

 

Some Favorite Dives: Enjoys all of the Cuyuna Mine Pits as well as the cenotes of Quintana Roo, Mexico. 

 

Day Job: Flight Paramedic

 

Things I'm Involved With: Goes on the Fun Dives to jump in as well as grill on shore and is also on the Crow Wing County Dive Rescue Squad.

 

Other Interests: Loves triathlons (swimming, biking and running) and Biathlons, as well as cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship.

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Tim Gack
PADI Divemaster

Original Diver Certification Date: October 2003 

 

Diving History: Basic Open Water in 2003, Advanced Open Water in 2006, Ice Diver in 2007, Rescue Diver in 2007 and Dive Master in 2009.  

 

Some Favorite Dives: Cuyuna Mine Pits, Mesabi Mine Pits, Florida Keys, Lake Superior and Roatan, Honduras. 

 

Day Job: Embedded System Engineer

 

Other Interests: Hanging out with my grandchildren, riding motorcycles, reading and watching Sci-fi, and playing guitar for Nate's Fish. 

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Jill Herberg
PADI Divemaster

Original Diver Certification Date: August 2005

 

Diving History: I was a competitive swimmer growing up and diving was the next logical step. I obtained my PADI Open Water certification with MSD in 2005, and in 2006 I spent 10 weeks in the the Seychelles volunteering to study the coral reefs and sea turtles. I earned some specialty certifications duirng that time as well. I continued with my diving education and became a Divemaster in December 2008. 

 

Some Favorite Dives: I have been fortunate enought to dive in a few warm locations; my favorite part of any ocean dive is the first glimpse under the blue water as you backward roll off the boat. My favorite dive is the night dive with Manta Rays in Kona, HI. My favorite local dive spot is Connecticut 2-Bit because of the fish!

 

Day Job: Retail Food Inspection Supervisor with the MN Department of Agriculture. I work out of my home office in Brainerd and supervise staff in the central and northwest region of the state who inspect retail food establishments. 

 

Other Interests: I have two young children who keep me on the go. My favorite place to be is on the lake wakesurfing with my sister and our families. I love to travel, take pictures, read, work in my flower garden, and binge watch tv series. 

 

PADI Specialties I Am Certified In: Coral Reef Research Diver, Underwater Photographer, Peak Performance Buoyancy, and Deep Diver.

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William (Bill) Lacroix 
PADI Divemaster

Original Diver Certification Date: August 1990

 

Diving History: I became PADI Certified in 1990 through Underwater Sports in Sauk Rapids, MN.  I have literally traveled the world with MSD on their various dive trips beginning in June of 1991.  Those trips have included destinations to all five Great Lakes (including Canadian waters), several lakes in Minnesota, many destinations on several occasions in the Caribbean Sea, four trips to the Micronesian waters of the Pacific Ocean (Truk, Pohnpei and Kosrae), the Philippine Sea waters of Palau and of course the beautiful waters of the Cuyuna Range mine pit lakes.  I have also dived the waters of the Caribbean, two of the Hawaiian Islands and the northern waters of the Mediterranean Sea while on family trips.  SCUBA diving is important to me. 

 

Some Favorite Dives: For local diving I prefer Sleepy Hollow (Mangan mine pit lake) and I've also enjoyed anyplace along Bloody Bay Wall on Little Cayman Island, Siaes Tunnel and Wall (Philippine Sea--Palau). 

 

Day Job: Retired (34 years of teaching including 32 years on the faculty of St. Cloud State University)

 

Things I'm Involved With: I love to take three (of six) grandchildren that have been PADI certified - through MSD, diving.  I also enjoy going on the Fun Dives during the week(end) and helping out with Discover Scuba sessions.

 

Other Interests: I love to spend time with my family and my yard.  I try to enjoy my surroundings.

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Nick Haglin
PADI Divemaster

Original Diver Certification Date: October 2001

 

Diving History: I was certified with my best friend from elementary school when we were 21. I started to evolve in my diving career in 2010 when I became an Advanced Diver, then in 2013 when I received my Rescue Diver certification. I then joined the Crow Wing County's Sheriff's Dive Team in 2015, and I became a Dive Master in 2017. 

 

Some Favorite Dives: Dives with my wife. 

 

Day Job: Project Manager & Owner at Thelen Heating and Roofing, Inc; Firefighter for Brainerd Fire Department

 

 

Things I'm Involved With: Crow Wing County Sheriff's Dive Team; Brainerd Fire Department; Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club; Brainerd Public School Foundation

 

Other Interests: Travel, CrossFit, Airplanes, Farming, Downhill Skiing, and Motorcycles

 

PADI Specialties I Am Certified In: Night Diver, Search & Recovery Diver, Ice Dive

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Cory Hines
PADI Divemaster

Original Certification Date: June 6th, 2013

 

Diving History: I started diving because Nick Haglin asked me if I was interested and once I took the class I was hooked. I spent the next few years logging dives and getting the Advanced Open Water Diver certification. Places I have travelled to dive are: Bonne Terre, Tobermary, Puerto Rico, Straits of Mackinac, Alpena, Roatan, and Glacier National Park with plenty more to come. 

 

Some Favorite Dives: My most memorable dive would be when Paula Persons decided that floating around the surface was more enjoyable than diving at the Straits of Mackinac. The second would be my first ocean dive in Puerto Rico; just the change from Minnesota diving to the clear water was amazing. My favorite local dives would be Seaward, Wombad, Feigh, and anything in Huntington. 

 

Day Job: Laborer at BNSF

 

Other Interests: My other interests outside of diving are traveling, hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. 

 

PADI Specialties I Am Certified In: Ice Diver (2015), Night Diver (2016), and Equipment Specialist (2018)

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Mark Johnson
PADI Divemaster

Original Certification Date: NAUI Open Water Certification in 1976

 

Diving History: After a long layoff from diving I had the opportunity to go snorkeling in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. It was then I decided to get back into diving. In 2010 I took a refresher course, got my Advanced Open Water certificate and then started attending Fun Dives with Minnesota School of Diving, joined the Crow Wing County Dive Team, and have not looked back. 

 

Some Favorite Dives: My favorite dives include: 

  • Locally: Cuyuna Mine Pits and Isle Royale in Lake Superior

  • International: drift diving Cozumel

Day Job: Auto Technician for Mills Ford in Baxter

 

Other Interests: Fishing & Hunting 

PADI Specialties I am Certified: Boat Diver, Drift Diver, Deep Diver, Ice Diver, Night Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Enriched Air Diver, and Equipment Specialist

 

Other Certifications: TDI Decompression Procedures Diver and TDI Advanced Nitrox Diver

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David Hillstrom
PADI Divemaster

Original Certification Date: May 15, 2016. It snowed each day of the Open Water dives!

 

Diving History: After wanting to learn to dive as a teenager while watching divers from the surface while snorkeling, I finally found the opportunity to sign up for my open water course an was able to fulfill a life goal some time later. Every few years since my certification I decided to take the next advancement course in diving. I wanted to gain experience prior to completing the next course. I've been fortunate enough to make great friends to dive with and have learned a lot from each of them. I now enjoy diving with friends, newly certified divers and a great community at Minnesota School of Diving. All of these experiences and training has also offered the opportunity to offer my services as a member of the Crow Wing Country Rescue and Recovery Team. 

 

Some Favorite Dives: Some of my favorite dives have been in Cozumel along the steep walls and swim throughs. Floating along and taking in the scenery is really nice. I've also enjoyed local dives in Minnesota. The Crosby Mine Pits offer something new each dive. The Tioga Mine Pit was also a great dive. 

Day Job: I am the Senior Regional Manager of PLM Lake and Land Management Corp. Midwest Region. We manage aquatic invasive species for landowners, associations, lake improvement districts, watersheds and government agencies. I'm fortunate enough to spend nearly five days a week on Minnesota lakes during the open water season. 

 

Other Interests: I've always been an avid user of the water. My family enjoys spending the day out on the boat and swimming. Wakesurfing is a great way to spend the day with the family. Target shooting and trap shooting and enjoyed in the early spring and fall. 

 

PADI Specialties I Am Certified In:  Although I don't hold a lot of specialty certificates I've been fortunate to complete many dives that are the bases of the specialties. 

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Justin Linhardt
PADI Divemaster

Original Certification Date: DIT Junior Diver 1986

 

Diving History: Junior Diver 1986-1993, PADI Open Water 2007, PADI Advanced 2009, PADI Rescue 2019, PADI Dive Master 2022

 

Some Favorite Dives: Cozumel & Key West

Day Job: Nurse Anesthesia 

 

Other Interests: Training German Shorthairs for Hunt Tests, Hunting/Fishing, Medical Mission Work, Assisting with Instructing Medical Training for Austere Conditions