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nomad shelter alaskan yurt portable structure in the forest

About Us

Nomad Shelter is comprised of a dedicated group of independent craftspeople cooperating to make the best possible yurt. Each component has its own team that works together to give each piece the care and attention it deserves, and we are connected personally to every project.

Nomad Shelter has been in operation since 1995, starting as a small family business that now ships hand-crafted yurts across the world for a staggering array of environments and uses.

The Alaskan Nomad Shelter yurt is inspired by the traditional Ger or yurt design of the central Asian steppe nomadic herding people. The design includes a circular lattice frame and rafters supported by a central compression ring at the top. This design is ages old and very well proven. The central Asian people have used yurts for thousands of years as primary residences due to their wind resistance and excellent snow strength while providing a light, warm, circular interior. Nomad Shelter founders Lee and Jess Tenhoff have flawlessly incorporated these enduring traditions, living and working through extreme Alaskan conditions in a yurt of their own design since 1987. 

meet the team


Lee and Jess Tenhoff

Jess and Lee made their first yurt out of necessity back in 1987, when they came home with their newborn son, Zeke, in the dead of winter to find their cabin outside Fairbanks, AK engulfed in flames. With everything gone, they had to act fast. Using nothing but hand tools, Lee cut spruce on the property to craft poles and lash tools and they spent $250 on canvas and hardware. Within a month, they had a new dwelling for their family and the Nomad Shelter yurt was born! Over the coming years, they travelled across the state with their unique portable home and word spread, until they started getting requests and officially began Nomad Shelter Yurts in 1995.

Throughout the years that Nomad Shelter has been in business, Jess and Lee have found living in the round to be a wonderful way to connect with community and empower people from all walks of life to live a low-impact and sustainable lifestyle without sacrificing comfort or beauty.

Founders, Owners, Yurt Masterminds


Richard Rose

Woodshop Lattice and Ring Technician

Richie started working for Nomad Shelter in 2016. Before joining our team, he had
worked in food service for several years and had no previous experience in
carpentry. He got an opportunity to work in the woodshop and has proven to be an
asset to the team through diligence and hard work. Richie now resides in his own
20-foot yurt. He loves how the versatility and affordability of Nomad Shelter Yurts
have given him the ability to own a home. Other than carpentry, Richie loves
photography and videography.


Agnieszka Smerecka

Cover Shop Manager and Production Coordinator

Agnieszka, originally from Poland, moved to New York after earning her Masters
degree in Political Science & History. While in New York, she began working in real estate, which lead her to spending summers all over Alaska with her husband. While expecting her first child, Agnieszka and her husband decided they wanted to
permanently relocate to Alaska.

As a child, she saw her grandmother and mom sew but never imagined that she would become a professional sewer herself. Agnieszka has now been the Cover Shop Manager at Nomad Shelter for over 10 years and recently took on the role of Production Coordinator for all three shops. She is very crafty and loves freelance sewing projects such as creating women's bags out of used bicycles tire tubes and custom furniture upholstery. She also loves baking and creating Paleo recipes, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two kids.


Alex Bird

Office, Shipping, and Logistics Manager

As a child, Alex grew up primarily in Martha's Vineyard, MA but has lived all over
the US and Europe, including London and Germany. She came back to the States to
pursue her dream of working in radio, TV, and movies and earned her Bachelors
Degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations.

Life took Alex in a different direction, however, and she ended up leaving her career to move north to Homer, AK and begin a family. Now, Alex is the proud mother of two special-needs children and has over 20 years of experience in customer service. Alex has many passions including story-telling, herbal medicine, photography, and traveling. However, her favorite way to spend time is with her children- who love going on beach walks, swimming, and going to karate practice.


Anita Christie

Insulation Shop Manager

Anita began sewing when her grandmother taught her to sew Barbie doll dresses at
the age of 4. Since then, she has acquired over 30 years of experience as an industrial seamstress. Anita has been leading the insulation sew shop at Nomad Shelter for the past 8 years. Anita relocated to Homer from Missouri to live near her sister and fell in love with the community. Now, she lives in her very own 24-foot yurt with her German Shepherd, Logan.

When Anita isn't sewing for Nomad Shelter, she can be found crafting custom drum bags for the Grandmother Drum Project of Alaska and Hawaii.

You can find out more about the Grandmother Drum Project by visiting

Nomad Shelter Security

Logan the dog


Paul Vela

Business Manager

Paul grew up next to the Puget Sound in the rural town of Bainbridge Island, WA. When he was 8 years old, his parents gifted him a small rowboat, and he found himself on the water often. So when he was offered a commercial fishing gig on a small two-person vessel out of Port Moller, Alaska, it felt like a natural choice. During his 10 years fishing, he spent his winters up and down the West Coast, enjoying the 90's music scene in Seattle, skiing in the Cascade Mountains, and working his way to a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of Washington. After graduating, he landed a job in tech and eventually became the Database Manager for the Alaska Salmon Data Project at UW.


Eventually, Paul decided to relocate to Alaska permanently and, because of his interest in alternative living structures, found his way to Nomad Shelter Yurts. Nowadays, in his free time, Paul enjoys sailing, boat building, and spending time with his wife and two dogs.


Will Gallagher

Woodshop Manager

Will grew up in Southern California. His love of yurts began when he saw the set up of five 50-foot yurts taking place in Maryland that captured his imagination. Will relocated to Homer in 2014 to join his brother Georgie at Nomad Shelter, who began three years earlier. Previously, Will had been working construction in New York, starting with hard floors and tile, then moving to marble countertops.

At Nomad Shelter, Will began as a lattice specialist and now works very hard as the woodshop lead. He possesses a talent for building positive and productive team
relationships that are essential to the success of Nomad Shelter. Will is also an avid gardener and enjoys property development.


Raven Liss

Raven grew up in Homer as a close family friend of the Tenhoffs, and has always appreciated yurt life. After earning his Bachelors degree in product design from Lehigh University, he spent some years in Portland, OR pursuing various creative endeavors including his music career. In the spring of 2020, he moved back to Homer to reconnect with the wonderful community of his home and take a break from city life. 

Raven lends his experience to Nomad Shelter in a variety of forms as needed, including website design, marketing, and video/photo content development. He enjoys art and design projects, and playing bass and guitar for his band, Ayla Ray.

Website Manager

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