Hometown: Santa Maria, CA
Program Position: Trip Leader | Adventure Outings
Katie signed up for a day of kayaking at the Forebay Aquatic Center when she came to summer orientation. The day trip was scheduled the weekend before school started so she figured it would be a great way to meet other freshmen. The trip more than met her expectations! She wasted no time visiting the Adventures Outings office on the first day of school to find out how she could become a trip leader. She discovered that you started as an assistant trip leader and new hires didn’t happen until spring, but that didn’t deter Katie. She continued to drop by the AO office almost weekly just to stay on their radar. Come spring, Katie did a panel interview and passed which allowed her to participate in the second part of the application process – a field experience in the form of a five day backpacking trip. “I was a total disaster, but I was having a blast. I had never backpacked before, and I didn’t have the right equipment.” The AO staff called her “a real trooper” and saw her potential so she was hired.
For three semesters she served as an assistant trip leader and then left to study abroad in Italy for a year. “I loved Italy, but I really missed AO. I missed connecting with people who had the same interests and passions as me. I contacted the coordinator while I was I there and she assured me that I would have a place when I returned.” And that promise was made good. Katie returned to be an assistant trip leader for one more semester and then stepped up to be a trip leader her final semester at Chico State. “The trip leader is the heart and soul of trip. They set the pace for the trip at the initial orientation, but a lot goes on before that. Pre-plans revolve around weather, equipment needs, transportation – all the behind the scenes things that participants don’t see.” When setting expectations at the orientation, Katie adds her special touch to generate excitement by sharing photos and conveying her own genuine passion for the outdoors. “These trips allow people to feel very connected to one another — really bonded. It’s so rewarding to take strangers to an outside setting without any normal daily distractions and introduce them to new challenges.”
Katie readily credits her personal growth to her AO experience. “I’ve become a better leader and facilitator which have motivated me in the classroom. I’ve learned how to be a leader without being the loudest voice. AO has opened many doors for me. I’ve learned great technical skills which have provided me with a good solid foundation for outdoor leadership.”
Katie’s campus engagement goes beyond AO. As a freshman and sophomore, she was an intern and then program coordinator in the AS Women’s Center (now the GSEC). Currently she is sharing her passion for travel as an internship coordinator in the Study Abroad Program. She is the perfect role model for inspiring others to experience the adventure she did while in Italy. “Italy is my second home. I’ll always go back because I made family and friends there.” However, Katie is setting her sights beyond Italy right now. After graduation in May she’s hoping to go to Thailand to experience new adventures while teaching English.
In Katie’s words:
“I’ve never had a job like AO where work is rafting, caving, and hiking. Going somewhere every weekend, meeting so many people, and having amazing experiences is incredible. I didn’t understand how rare this experience is until I went abroad to study. I returned to campus and to AO with a renewed vigor and appreciation for this opportunity.”