Dear BAWT Community,
It is with honor and excitement that I embark on my adventure as your new Program Director with Bay Area Wilderness Training!
As I reflect on the path that has led me here today, I can’t help but think back to 2008 when I volunteered at a forest preschool in Denmark for a semester in college. Each day, I would greet the bundled-up toddlers, ready for any weather in their bright and puffy snowsuits. We would spend the entire day in a nearby forest, which served as the classroom, cafeteria, playground, and nap area. The rich experience this forest provided at a very low-cost shifted my perspective in what environmental and outdoor education could be: accessible, interdisciplinary, experiential, and transformative. I was hooked.
I have spent the last ten years immersing myself in this work as a naturalist, ropes course facilitator, wilderness backpacking guide, school garden educator, and more. I delved deeper by spending a year living in the North Cascades National Park to complete a graduate degree in environmental education and nonprofit administration. Throughout this time, the question that has continued to drive and inspire me is “How do we increase access to the outdoors to all members of our community in a way that is equitable, inclusive, and just?
I am in awe of the work that has been done by BAWT over the past 20 years, and I feel so grateful to have found a mission to work towards that is so near and dear to me. I am honored to join this powerful team that has built 3 gear libraries around the Bay Area, facilitated over 3,000 courses for youth workers and educators, served over 74,000 youth, and continued to deepen a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is clear to me that Aaron has poured his heart and soul into this organization over the last 7 years, and I wish him all the best in his next stage of life.
I am beyond grateful for the strong foundation that has been laid out at BAWT, and am thrilled to continue to build on it by providing free trainings to educators in Santa Clara County, getting every middle schooler in Oakland Unified School District outdoors, and continuing to expand and adapt our gear libraries, systems, and courses. I look forward to meeting you – our partners, leaders, alumni, supporters, and friends – and I look forward to working and growing together in this next phase of BAWT.
In gratitude and community,