- Masters of Social Work, Brigham Young University
- B.S., Utah Valley University
- 15+ years working with troubled teens in the wilderness
- Worked as a Primary Therapist, Program Director, Field Director, and Field Guide
- Intern therapist, Utah State Prison – working with male substance users
- Battalion Operations Sergeant, U.S. Army Reserves
- Combat Veteran – Operation Iraqi Freedom
I started at Outback in 2002 as a trail staff, which resonated deeply with my love of wilderness and my own history as a troubled youth. As I poured myself into helping the students, I found myself growing alongside them. This cosmic reciprocity, combined with the poignant “aha” moments I witnessed in the students, changed what I thought would be a seasonal job into a lifelong journey. As I transitioned into management, I found a meaningful extension to the saying, “Give a person a fish and feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and feed them for a lifetime.” The extension came in the form of “Teach a person to teach a person to fish and you feed a community.” Even though my work setting has transitioned from the wilderness to the office, I continue to find incredible fulfillment in supporting the youth who are struggling to “learn to fish” by ensuring that I do what I can to help their leaders learn to teach.
The direction of my personal life was changed as well when I began working at outBACK. On my very first day, I met a highly skilled and incredible supervisor who would later become my beloved wife. As a supervisor, she guided me into becoming a better leader and helped me to look beyond what was to better understand the WHYs behind human behavior. And as my wife, she is still providing me with that level of “supervision” as we navigate the world together as a family. We now have four children (three daughters and one son), and some people have speculated that our family life must be perfectly harmonious because of our professional backgrounds. I, however, am eager to reshape this perspective and clarify that while education and experience may help reduce some of the challenges that comes with being a family, living a human life will always include myopic perspectives, vibrant emotions, and deeply entrenched imperfections. It is healthy to expect and accept some level of intense struggles in family life. Believe me, my children would be the first to tell you that their dad is still working on his parenting skills.
I earned a master’s degree in Social Work and became a licensed therapist in the state of Utah. I spent 9 years in the US Army Reserves and served one 16-month tour in Iraq as a convoy security scout. I wholeheartedly enjoy making things with my hands: trail skills, backyard sheds, clay pots, etc. The power of creation is a beautiful conduit for confidence, creativity and personal expression that I have seen positively impact the lives of adolescents as well as within myself. I also love finding new ways to harness healthy family traditions and culture. Such traditions span from setting aside one weeknight as a media free snack filled family time, or, to refining the annual science of trick or treating to increase candy production. Along with family being one of my greatest values, another one that is equally important is striving to remain authentic to myself and to others. While achieving this can be hard given some of the contradictory external pressures to perform, I have found that authenticity invites vulnerability. And it is in this level of vulnerability that healing becomes accessible.
My favorite thing to do is spend time with my kids and my wonderful wife. We love to go sledding and ice skating in the winter, and hiking and swimming in the summer. I love using my hands and creative energy to make things. I’ve made wooden spoons, willow baskets, drums, and bows and arrows, but I also like to do home renovation projects like laying tile, painting and doing electrical work. My wife and I enjoy brainstorming about work-related topics; it genuinely is a favorite past time of ours. I used to be an avid rock and ice climber, but I eventually discovered the meaning of middle age once we were married and had children. My future goals are to begin running Tough Mudders and get my kids into climbing and mountain biking.