Become a Volunteer
Mike Marsh, Volunteer since 2017
Mike was drawn to work with The Woods Project because “the organizations serves many students of color who face several societal and cultural challenges that I have experienced as well. This experience places me in a unique position to empathize and really assist these students.”
Through his first TWP summer trip experiences to Olympic National Park, Mike couldn’t help but to notice the lack of diversity in the outdoors. “TWP exposes kids to the outdoors and this has special meaning for communities of color. TWP is on the frontlines of challenging these social barriers.”
Mike is a member of TWP’s Board of Directors. He is also a US Track & Field Olympian Gold Medalist.
Leslie Rieder, Volunteer since 2013
Like many of our leaders, Leslie was introduced to The Woods Project as a School Coordinator. She was already an active camper and hiker, but also like many of our leaders was new to backpacking. Now backpacking is a big part of her life -she even moved to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to outdoor opportunities, where she is now a Brand Manager for Nuun Hydration.
The Woods Project opened her eyes to how important creating access to the outdoors is, and how big of a positive impact spending time with nature has on teens. “A summer with TWP allows for a type of experiential learning that is rarely accessed in a classroom, where it’s safe space to make and learn from mistakes while providing unlimited room for growth. I’ve seen leadership skills emerge, adaptability beyond anything I’ve seen in the classroom (Yosemite 2018!), and my favorite – the cultivation of zest and curiosity for the outdoors.”
Hunter Klaus, Volunteer since 2019
Hunter has been involved in many facets of The Woods Project programming, from being a volunteer leader on wilderness trips to teaching after-school clubs to using his Photojournalism degree hosting Zoom nature photography mini-courses. He is an avid backpacker and hiker and has hiked sections of the PCT, CDT, and AT.
“My favorite memory is working with a group of intrepid students in Glacier National Park overcome hardship, watching the group dynamic change as they conquered obstacles by pulling together and working as a team.” Through a TWP experience, students grow into well-rounded, confident individuals that not only understand the value of working together but also see just how much they are capable of overcoming. For volunteer leaders, just know that this is an extremely rewarding experiences and no matter your skill set, TWP needs your help. For me personally, I have learned to try to turn any obstacle into a learning opportunity and realized there is joy to be found through the hardships.
Ana Tapia, Volunteer since 2019
Ana is an adventurer extraordinaire and a Biology teacher at KIPP Generations. Ana got involved with The Woods Project as a School Coordinator, but is not new to the outdoors.
She understands the importance of exposing students to the parks and natural areas around Houston. We so often hear our students comment “I didn’t know this was here” when we travel to weekend trip destinations within an hour or so of Houston. Our students learn to use the outdoors for more than just fishing or picnicking – they learn to look at the outdoors differently.
One of her favorite memories is from one of her first Fall weekend trips. Students were rotating through biking, fishing, and hiking activities. She recalls “It was one young man’s first time ever riding a bike. He learned right then and there, then we couldn’t get him off the bike! I know we share a lot of firsts with TWP and our community of students, BUT this was great seeing him enjoying his first time biking!”
Juan Rocha, Volunteer since 2019
Juan is a College and Career Readiness Advisor at Stephen F. Austin High School. He spent much of his youth camping with family and friends exploring state parks all around Texas.
“When I got the chance to combine my love for the outdoors and educating students, I took the leap to be the TWP sponsor. I feel that this program not only exposes students to surroundings that they have never even before, but it allows us as educators to have a different environment with our students to provide mentorship and guidance in not only school topics, but in life.”
As Juan reflects on his time with TWP, he continues to be pleasantly surprised by just how much students are willing to push themselves and each other to accomplish something. “Hiking up a mountain is something to be proud of, and although there is pain, doubt and fear, these student overcome these obstacles and more to achieve something for themselves! This allows us to use hiking as a platform for lessons about school, careers, and life in general. Never stop, never quit, always persevere!”
Amy Robles, Volunteer since 2019
Amy is a College Counselor at KIPP Northeast College Prep. She has a passion for working with high school students, primarily from low-income communities, and has been doing so since she began mentoring first generation freshman while in college. Amy was interested in volunteering because she enjoyed being outside encountering nature and wanted to be able to offer that same experience to her students who do not have the access for outdoor recreation with their families or communities.
“TWP reconnects people with nature, providing our students to take a break from this technological world we live in. My favorite memories are the hikes through the mountains of Montana. The Woods Project has created unique opportunities to develop relationships with my students away from campus. Through these trips, I’ve made some of my greatest friends!”