We are excited to announce that Heather Pearson has taken up the position of OTA's first ever intern! Heather will be working with us for the summer on a number of exciting projects, but enough from us. Let's hear from Heather!
How did you learn about OTA?
I grew up in the area but had never heard about OTA until last year when looking up queer nonprofits for school. I stumbled across OTA’s website, was immediately interested in getting involved and sent an email to Elyse to learn what OTA’s all about, and here we are!
What trip(s) have you done?
Well, I’m new to OTA and so haven’t gone on any trips yet. I definitely am excited to get out there though as the weather keeps warming up and we finally get a bit of sunny spring and summer.
What has been your favorite OTA moment?
I think the best moments are yet to come – so far, just learning about all the upcoming trips gets me excited and reading stories of past participants is really fun for me.
Has OTA made an impact on your life? If so, how?
OTA has given me a sense of validation and belonging I haven’t had before. Growing up where I did, I didn’t even get the chance to interact with that many other young queer people. Now to see a community of social-justice oriented queer folks who love outdoor recreation as well as having fun and living in purposeful ways – that’s so affirming for me. It encourages me to follow my path because it shows me that I am not alone on it.
Why should other young queer folks get OUT with OTA?
The whole point is to get outside, create community, and have fun – if any of that appeals to you, then you should definitely get OUT with OTA. The work done by OTA is groundbreaking and pretty unique and rare, so to be able to participate is a privilege I would encourage taking advantage of. Plus, I think there’s usually free food!
Anything else you'd like us to know?
Hope to see you OUT there!
Elyse share's her thoughts on why the outdoor industry needs to stop gendering everything we put on, carry and use.
My background with outdoor adventuring roots from my early childhood - by the time I learned how to walk, I also knew how to ride a 4-wheeler all by myself.
My family and I went camping, hunting and 4-wheeling every season of the year when I was growing up. We would go with my grandparents and stay for a few days here and there, cooking and laughing by the campfire, identifying bugs in the creeks, going fishing, finding new trails on our quads and dirt bikes. Some of my most favorite memories belong in the woods that I grew familiar with as a kid out in Southern Washington. I was never interested in hunting, so instead I learned to use slingshots and binoculars properly, start fires and cook marshmallows to perfection. I loved paving new trails and seeing deer in their natural habitat, I loved frogs and the silent rustles of trees in the forest with no power lines for miles, guessing what kind of tracks were on the ground and jumping in cold rivers on hot summer days. The outdoors were always my safe haven.
As I got older, my family started to split their separate ways and I started exploring road trips, camping with friends and hiking. Hiking was a great escape from troubles at home, school and with myself. But I wanted more. I always wanted to see more and go further and stay longer.
And then I met OTA.
I started going on group hikes, indoor rock climbing and sea kayaking. I was introduced to queer inclusive, outdoor spaces where we could talk about really goofy or serious things while learning wilderness and leadership skills and having a blast navigating the water and the woods. I'm stoked for the opportunity to go to Australia this June because I'll be able to take my skills and excitement that I've built for adventuring over the course of my life and apply it to this trip, and also get to learn a variety of new things - wilderness skills, quirky facts and history of the places I'll be going, and most likely a bunch of things about myself, as well! This will be unlike anything I've ever experienced.