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From Outdoor Lab to Oregon: A Journey of Passion for Wildlife and Outdoor Education

Since attending Outdoor Lab as a high school leader last February, I’ve continued to fall in love with the natural world and chase my passion for outdoor education. My Outdoor Lab experience is a major part of what convinced me to chase my dreams of working outdoors with wildlife and education, which led me to Oregon State University, where I’m pursuing a degree in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation sciences.

The Outdoor Lab experience also revealed to me the joy and importance of community service, and helping give back to the community that raised me to be a passionate wilderness lover. Following my time with Outdoor Lab, I got involved with the Save Bear Creek Lake Park movement, focused on preserving a local open space for future generations, as well as working with Colorado Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (COPARC) as a field surveyor, monitoring populations of amphibians and reptiles across the state. 

I’ve been involved with extensive surveys, spending most of my summer in Colorado chasing snakes and recording data, and I’ve gotten involved in similar projects since moving to Oregon for school as well. As one of the more experienced surveyors, this position led me to occasional leadership positions within surveys, where I had to rely heavily on skills I learned volunteering at Outdoor Lab. 

Outdoor Lab was crucial to me, as the experience solidified that what I was hoping to pursue was indeed the right career for me, and ensured to me that outdoor education is important to me, and something I enjoy. Following Outdoor Lab, I continued to embrace outdoor education, including leading guided hikes at nearby open spaces, and creating a project and presentation about reptiles in Jefferson County for my senior Capstone project.

My reptile project, which was tied to my work with Save Bear Creek Lake Park and COPARC, led to me receiving an award from Jeffco Public Schools, as well as recognition from the City of Lakewood City Council. Outdoor Lab played a huge role in influencing my work and passion. 

Now in Oregon, I am making progress towards my degree, focusing on Oregon wildlife conservation, and regularly remember the difference Outdoor Lab made for me.