Transition Specialist and Mentors
krissy pozatek, m.s.w., l.i.c.s.w.
Krissy has had 15 years of experience in the wilderness therapy and adolescent treatment field. She graduated from Middlebury College with a joint undergraduate degree in environmental studies and geography. She started in the therapeutic field as a wilderness instructor at Aspen Achievement Academy, working with both adjudicated and at-risk youth in 1996. She then worked at Montana Academy when it was first launched.
Krissy completed her graduate training in clinical social work at both Smith College School for Social Work and at N.M. Highlands University.
Krissy returned to wilderness therapy, first at Aspen Achievement Academy, working with both adolescent boys and girls and their families. She then worked at Second Nature Wilderness Program in Duchesne. Krissy's clinical experience includes the treatment of adoption issues, trauma, self-harming behavior, substance abuse, personality disorders, and family system problems. Krissy also worked at True North Wilderness Program in Waitsfield, Vermont.
Krissy is the author of: The Parallel Process: Growing alongside your adolescent or young adult in treatment, published by Lantern Books, 2010.
Krissy grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and went to school in New Hampshire and Vermont. She lived in the West of 10 years working in adolescent programs, and now lives in Vermont with her husband and two daughters.
jeffrey peyton, ma, cadc-LL, TRANSITION SPECIALIST
Jeff has been working with young people and families for more than 25 years. Since 2005 he has committed himself to the healing and empowerment of adolescents and their families as a counseling professional. Jeff is known for his calm and caring personal style, while also providing clear direction and feedback in support of the goals of the family and the client.
Jeff was born and raised outside of Fairbanks, Alaska and has spent most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He learned to cross-country ski at the age of 6 and had his first overnight solo backpacking trip at the age of 9. As a result of his personal experience with the power of wilderness as a young man, Jeff chose to enter the counseling field as a wilderness therapist. A licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADC-II), Jeff joined Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy programs in Oregon in 2005 as a lead therapist. Jeff is recognized for his astute clinical skills and treatment interventions with adolescents, and his areas of specialization include substance abuse and addiction, co-occurring disorders, developmental trauma (including adoption), depression and low self-worth, and clients who struggle with emotional and behavioral self-regulation. In particular, Jeff is passionate about supporting young men and women as they access their innate capacities of resilience to move into young adulthood with honesty, integrity, self-efficacy and confidence.
In 2007 Jeff accepted the position of Family Therapist at Catherine Freer, a position he held for five years prior to joining Second Nature 360. Jeff utilizes a strength-based approach with parents, finding solutions and strategies the entire family can access to move forward and create change. With the ultimate goal of family reunification, Jeff was actively involved with parents in aftercare planning, relapse prevention planning, the creation of home contracts, as well as assisting families with communication, parental relationships ,family systems and conflict resolution.
Jeff received his BA from George Fox University, his MA from Juilliard School in New York, and Doctoral studies at the University of Oregon. He is in the final thesis phase of his second Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Prescott College.
Prior to his counseling career, Jeff was a nationally recognized classical percussionist, performing with symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles across the country. Jeff is also an award winning composer.
Currently living in Portland, Oregon, Jeff is the father of two teenage boys and enjoys cycling, hiking, exploring the Oregon coast, writing music and spending time with his family, including his dogs Fisher and Oliver.
jodi warthen, msw, transition specialist
Jodi was born and raised near the Sawtooth Mountain in Idaho where she and her family camped at the mountain lake with their horses for weeks at a time. This is where Jodi's love of the outdoors and of horses was developed.
Jodi graduated from Boise State University in 2003 with he Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology K-12 and Health Education. Upon graduation, Jodi became a full time high school teacher for the next three years where she taught Strength and Conditioning, Health, Dance and Physical Education to high school students. Jodi received an email during the summer before her fourth year of teaching advertising a need for wilderness therapy guides for Second Nature Entrada and felt like this was a good fit for her due to her love of the outdoors and her passion for working with youth. Jodi and her husband both decided to work for Second Nature and made the long commute from Southern Idaho to Southern Utah for a year working as a wilderness guide for both Second Nature and Aspiro Adventures. Jodi knew that she wanted to do more with this type of work and decided to pursue her master's degree.
While working as a teacher, Jodi had already begun her Master's in PE Pedagogy and Exercise Science and so she finished this degree first while working as a developmental specialist and PSR coordinator for several mental health agencies. Jodi was then accepted into the Boise State Masters of Social Work program while she also worked as an adjunct professor for Boise State, the College of Western Idaho and the University of Phoenix. Jodi completed her internship at the Boise VA Medical Center where she worked with homeless veterans to assist them in finding housing.
Upon graduation in 2011 with her Masters in Social Wrok degree, Jodi accepted a position as a summer clinical therapist for SUWS wilderness program and loved being outdoors and working with families and teenagers. Jodi then moved on to work at Northwest Academy in Naples, Idaho as a clinical therapist and eventually moved into a position with the VA Medical Center which allowed her to be closer to family again. Jodi is also a Wilderness First Responder and is certified in EAGALA where she uses horsed as therapeutic tools and has found this to be a highly affective form of therapy for families, veterans and teenagers.
Jodi is married and has 5 hourses, 3 dogs, and 2 cats that she considers to be her "kids for now." Jodi is so happy to again be working with families with Second Nature 360 as she feels like her journey is starting to come around full circle and feels blessed to have this opportunity.
jenna pacelli, mentor
Jenna grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she loved learning, playing soccer, and going camping with her family. She had always loved being outdoors and was a bit of an anomaly from her family who loved the city. Self development has always been important to her and she has infused that love into many positions she's had as a counselor, mentor and leader. She earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from UCLA, where she also competed at the national level for the UCLA triathlon team and served as the race director for the team. She held leadership roles in her sorority, was a backpacking guide for UCLA Unicamp serving under-privileged youth and helped conduct published studies in biological anthropology and psychology. She lived in Spain for a semester and traveled throughout Europe connecting with people from all walks of life. She also discovered her love for the practice of yoga when she went through a traumatic loss at a young age. Yoga and therapy helped her heal and set her firmly on the path of helping others.
She was recruited right out of college to Second Nature Entrada in Utah, now Evoke Therapy, and she developed into a Senior Field Instructor. She brought mindfulness practices to the clients in the desert and grew immensely herself. Living simply and having everything she needed on her back was so liberating for her and she watched the clients transform before her eyes in wilderness. She worked extensively with clients suffering from servere trauma, dual diagnoses, self harm, low self efficacy and self worth and many other struggles. To her, healing must be done from the inside out and she believes that we all have the ability to heal ourselves if given the right tools.
After Second Nature, she left the field and traveled to India and Nepal to deepen her studies of yoga, meditation and yogic philosophy. Upon her return, she started school to become a holistic health coach and is now board certified and helps her clients discover their innate resilience, strength and ability to heal themselves. She became certified at the 500 and 800 hour levels in yoga by her yoga teacher Sri Dharma Mittra. She is currently at the California Institute of Integral Studies, earning her Masters in Integral Counseling Psychology. In addition to mentoring her 360 clients, she teaches yoga, works with clients from all over the country in her private practice, and teaches classes, workshops and retreats on holistic healing.
She takes a holistic approach to her work: no part of her client's life goes unturned-from their diet and lifestyle to their relationships and physical activity, the entire person is honored and seen as important. It is vitally important to her to help her clients not only survive, but thrive and she helps them create a life they are excited to live. She loves to hike, cycle, ski, cook, read, eat vegan food, travel, be outdoors, and share her favorite essential oils with others. She lives in San Francisco.
Jen bruno, mentor
In a small town tucked away in Northern Appalachia, Jennifer grew up on the edge of a New York state park. Moving "off the mountain" and graduating from a high school outside of Philadelphia, Jennifer looked for every opportunity to take to the woods, and spent her early twenties completing the Americorp SCA Parks and Services program and then teaching 5-8th grade experiential outdoor education in New Hampshire and Connecticut.
At some point, Jennifer left the woods to gain an education, and began pusuing her associate studies with an Indian college in Iowa. Having an opportunity to join a world theater company in New York City, Jennifer then travelled the world for a number of years as a vocalist, puppeteer, mask maker and performer. This enormously rich and creative experience led Jennifer to pursue an undergraduate degree in Health Arts and Sciences, studying expressive arts therapies for survivors of trauma and oppression. Authoring a handbook for therapists, she then traveled to India where she worked with survivors of human trafficking.
Returning to the states, Jennifer continued her studies as a graduate student, while also traveling to US human trafficking care centers, training counselors in expressive arts therapies and trauma-informed care. Noticing the importance of environment of care, Jennifer turned the lens of her studies towards organizational health and therapuetic community.
All the while, Jennifer recalled the nurturance and power that nature offers, and could think of nothing better than returning to woods. Jennifer began her search for the perfect work environment, and found that Second Nature-a wilderness therapy program-had a site in her backyard. Jennifer worked for two and a half years with Second Nature in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains.
Jennifer is presently working as a research fellow within the field of anti-human trafficking, researching best practices within aftercare for survivors. She is also looking fora place to get her docorate so that she may continue gaining understanding about the effects of oppression and abuse, and how we might better support people reclaiming personal power and creative self-expresssion.
The opportunity to mentor young women with 360 is the perfect complement to her other pursuits and she is excited to share her varied experiences in creativity, education and therapeutic community with the young women she works with.
Jennifer lives in the beautiful city of Asheville, NC and spends much of her time enjoying her friends. She is also an avid reader and a scholar of the German language.
tess riabokin, Mentor
Tess comes to 360 after 13 years of working as a wilderness guide. She believes that wilderness fosters the opportunities for the most authentic version of ourselves to come forward and feels drawn to facilitating experiences of self-discovery and healing for others in the wild. She began guiding while finishing her BA at George Washington University in Washington D.C. After working in architecture and design for five years she shifted her career to guiding full-time, year round.
The wilderness has always served as a grounding touchstone for her. She grew up canoeing, backpacking, playing in the woods and studied survival skills with the Tom Brown school. As a 14 year old she opted to be homeschooled so that she could dogsled-working in the dog yard in exchange for running and racing dogs. Following college, she guided for six years at her childhood camp in Minnesota where she solo-lead whitewater canoe expeditions in the Boundary Waters in the U.S. and Canada as well as backpacking trips in the Rockies. A highlight of this time for her was a 45 day solo-lead backpacking trip in ANWR, Alaska. She has also worked as a dogsledding guide, leading winter camping expeditions in northern Minnesota and Canada.
Tess worked in wilderness therapy with Open Sky Wilderness for six years as a senior field guide, field director and family services facilitator. Her time in wilderness therapy in the desert inspired her to pursue her graduate studies at Smith College in clinical social work focusing on psychodynamic theory and she is currently a middle school counselor in Harlem, New York.
During her time off you can find her back in Colorado on her mountain bike, solo hiking or enjoying a good porch. In addition to her outdoor pursuits she is a big fan of classic hip-hop music, museums and art, last minute flights, HBO and crime novels. She has also been a registered and practicing yoga teacher for the past 8 years.
katie garlick, Mentor
Katie was born and raised in Durango, Colorado. Growing up in the Rocky Mountains has a way of igniting a love for outdoor adventure in the soul: she spent her childhood hiking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, cross-country skiing, mountain bike riding, rock climbing and water skiing, among other things.
Katie attended Hamilton College in mid-state New York where she studied Psychology and Spanish. During this time she traveled abroad to study for one semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina and another semester in Dunedin, New Zealand. It was during this year abroad that Katie recognized the value of being outside of one's comfort zone and the opportunity this provides for personal growth. In her senior year of college, Katie discovered her passion for coaching and assisting others. She started volunteering teaching English to refugees at the Refugee Center in Utica, New York as well as volunteering at a center for Equine Assisted Therapy. In both of these places Katie discovered the rewards of helping others and realized that sometimes a little support goes a long way. Additionally, Katie worked as a tutor for Let's Get Ready where she coached at-risk youth to prepare them for the SAT test and to apply for college. She felt that she served as a life coach for her students as much as a tutor. Katie gained a lot working with these teens and began to better understand the power and impact of active listening, coaching and genuinely caring for someone.
Following college, Katie found the best place on earth to combine her love for the outdoors with her passion for therapy; she became a field instructor at Second Nature Entrada. Katie believes she learned more during he time as a field Instructor than in all her time at college. At Second Nature Entrada she found her own style for working with clients which consisted of building a strong, open relationship and then with this connection and empathy offering a safe environment for her clients to grow and change.
Katie worked her way up to Senior Field Instructor before leaving the field to return to Colorado. Although it was a difficult decision to transition from the work she loves, it was great for Katie to be able to return to Colorado and continue mentoring clients with 360. Working one-on-one with adolescents and young adults ha always been Katie's favorite part of her work as well as he greatest strength. Now she continues this work amid the great Rocky Mountains and spends her winters riding powder on her snowboard and her summers hiking the beautiful trails.
justin briggs, mentor
Justin grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Never one for city life, he spent weekends driving to Wisconsin or Kentucky to go mountain biking or climbing.
Following high school Justin hit the road and took a three month solo trip to climb and hike in amazing places across the country. Upon his return Justin met Kimberly and two years later they were married. They now have two beautiful daughters, Cambria and Calliope, and Justin and his young family continue to explore the outdoors together.
Justin's career has taken him from working as a mechanic in a bicycle shop while in high school to working for five years as an instructional aide for special needs children in public school . In 2010 Justin moved to North Carolina. He learned about wilderness therapy while taking a Wilderness First Responder course. Justin began working at Second Nature Blue Ridge in the spring of 2010 and worked his way up to mentor staff level while there. Justin is looking forward to taking his years of experience working with young people both in a classroom and wilderness setting into the real world as a 360 Mentor. He knows the challenges that adolescents and young adults face today and enjoys both supporting and challenging them as they navigate life together.
Outside of work and raising his daughters, Justin enjoys woodworking and gardening. He is known for hand carving most of his presents he gives to friends and family and also built a greenhouse to grow veggies year round. Justin lives in Winston Salam, NC.mi
michael gilpin, mentor
Michael was born in Charleston, South Carolina then shortly after moved over seas. The next few years were spent in Athens, Greece and Rota, Spain. When he was eight years old his parents moved his family stateside, where they settled down in Western North Carolina. Upon arriving in Asheville, NC Michael quickly fell in love with all things outdoors. He spent a lot of time in the woods with his father and older brother mountain biking, climbing, jumping off waterfalls, enjoying various paddle sports, and snowboarding. He grew up playing some organized sports, the most notable being soccer. He also grew up enmeshed in the world of arts with the wilderness heavily dictating and influencing his reading, writing, painting and drawing. Now his art is mostly in multimedia and writing. If you're walking around Asheville you'll see Michael's art on the buildings downtown.
Michael's athletic potential, scholastic promise, and artistic aptitude were substancially put on hold during his high school years where he began to deviate from the true creative nature of his soul. Being passively misdirected by clinging on to unhealthy paradigms and nonessential social narratives, Michael found himself battling with substance abuse.
After being given many chances to succeed - a stint at division 1 soccer, three different full rides to universities, and with familial support running thin - he took a break and stepped away from society to really dig into what was essential for his life and to figure out who he was, to find his purpose, his vocation, his true self. During this time he began his own personal process of recovery from drugs and alcohol.
After having acquiesced to his recovery process, his life began to flourish in many meaningful ways. One of the most notable was his opportunity to work in the wilderness for a primary care facility outside of Asheville, NC. While out in the woods, having fallen in love with nature and the power of change that people are capable of, he recognized that one of his gifts was working in macro and micro mental health settings. Bridging gaps between communication, raising awareness, and reducing stigmas came naturally for him. He thus decided to leave the woods after a few years and finish his bachelor's degree in hopes of getting a Masters in Social Work.
In tandem with his 360 mentoring, you can now find him studying on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill (or a nearby coffee shop), translating Latin or painting, or applying to graduate schools. His undergraduate major is a double major in Classics and American Studies with a Minor in Studio Art. You may find him at the climbing gym, running in the woods, or playing soccer. In the research triangle, Michael also works closely with mental health in prison systems, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, and the Chapel Hill teen crisis center. He also does international research on successful mental health approaches in hopes of disseminating it back into local settings.
graham posner, mentor
Graham grew up in New York state. Throughout his early education, Graham struggled in a traditional classroom environment, and attended an alternative school from grades 4th - 8th. After high school, Graham attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatrical Design and Production Management. Graham moved to New York City where he was a successful freelance lighting designer and assistant designer Off-Broadway. He later went on to work abroad as a lighting engineer and designer on some of the world's grandest cruise ships. In 2012, the opportunity for Graham to fulfill his dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail presented itself, and he leapt at the opportunity. For 5 months, Graham lived in the woods as he walked from Georgia to Maine.
In early 2013, Graham began working as a field instructor for a wilderness program in Central Oregon at Evoke Cascades. Graham lived and worked outdoors with clients ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old. Clients that Graham worked with had a broad range of difficulties including Autism Spectrum Disorder, addiction, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, learning differences, trauma, failure to launch, Post Tramatic Stress Disorder, and other behavioral concerns. Graham's patience and empathy helped to safely support each client in succeeding. After two years as a field instructor, Graham moved into a management position. As an Assistant Field Director, Graham oversaw the development of 20-35 staff as well as training and hiring of new staff.
Graham loves to backpack and hike in the mountains, and enjoys sea kayaking. When not working or on an adventure, Graham is usually out in the park with friends or walking along the river with his dog. Graham enjoys theatre, arts, and design and is currently in the process of creating a theatre education program for teens and young adults. He excels in helping clients find their passions and fostering success. Graham currently reside in Bend, Oregon with his dog Petey.
Meghan bogutz, mentor
Meghan, while born and raised outside of Columbus Ohio - is from many places. She has spent seasons of her life in Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Vermont and South America but most recently landed in Asheville, North Carolina.
She has always had a sense of adventure and has been a competitive athlete - never shying away from a challenge. While younger she may have seemed precocious, as a young adult she is fun, inquisitive and wise.
She had her own treatment experiences throughout adolescence; attended a wilderness program and a therapeutic boarding school. She then spent some time determining her own path and finding her very own passions. One that began in the woods still remains today. After receiving her bachelors degree and becoming a certified educator, Meghan worked for two years as a field instructor at True North wilderness program. More recently Meghan worked as a teacher at a therapeutic boarding school continuing her passion of enriching the lives of adolescents and young adults.
Meghan is perfectly suited to support adolescents and young adults as they transition home having had both her own personal experience managing her own transition from treatment and now having worked for a number of years in the treatment setting. She brings her insight, warmed, strength, fun and bright energy to her work with her clients.
caleb mcclain, mentor
Families of 11 are few and far between, however, Caleb McClain has always been proud to have 8 siblings backing him. He was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia and moved around to Massachusetts, Texas, Florida and California all before the age of 10. During his senior year Caleb was asked to mentor a 5th grade student who was having academic and behavior problems at school. The encouragement and belief from his high school counselor were the gifts that helped him solidify his role as a positive mentor to others. He graduated from Vanguard High, a small IB school in Ocala, Florida.
Bug Juice, a popular Disney show highlighting the life of camp counselors, was enough for Caleb to apply for Camp Ridgecrest for Boys. Over the next 12 years he would give 10 summers, and one full school year to the camp, serving in many of the roles there, including Program Director. This was the catalyst to his love of the wilderness. He became comfortable sleeping on the ground and most importantly role modeling life for campers.
During the school year Caleb attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL where he earned a Bachelors in Recreation Management. His internship was with the Campus Recreation, Rez, where he co-lead trips with college students and was integral in re-accrediting the program on its American Camp Association standards.
After graduating in 2010, Caleb moved to Manson, North Carolina to work with Eckerd Youth Alternatives, where he served adjudicated youth in a wilderness alternative school setting. Caleb attributes this experience as the beginning of his training for a career in the mental health field. Following this experience Caleb spent some time in Baltimore with the Board of Child Care canvassing the streets and working with urban youth.
Caleb soon realized he was yearning for the outdoors again and wanted to get back to his headlamp and campfires. He was encouraged to look into Second Nature Blue Ridge and within a week was setting up to begin the training. Caleb was privileged to work as a senior field staff for 3 years. It was at Blue Ridge where Caleb developed the understanding that he was able to gain rapport easily with students, leading him to be empowered to set boundaries and challenge student's patterns, while remaining compassionate and empathetic. Amongst the brilliant, life-altering ideas he learned at Second Nature, Caleb also recognized that living in the wilderness was not sustainable though he absolutely loved his time out there. He recently relocated to Washington D.C. where he plans to enroll in graduate school for Social Work and fulfill a lifelong goal of living in the big city like his little brothers.
hope weaver, mentor
Hope grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Harrisonburg, Virginia. She spent her childhood climbing trees, building fires and camping with her family. She loves the outdoors, meeting new people and traveling the world. At age 14 she made her first trip abroad to China. This trip influenced her love of travel, other cultures and a lifelong passion for learning. Upon graduating high school, Hope moved to Bolivia to work and teach in an orphanage. Living in Bolivia sparked a passion for social justice in Latin American communities and a love for working with youth.
She went on to graduate from the University of Northern Colorado with a BA in Bilingual Education, ESL Education, Spanish and Disaster Management. Hope then followed Hurricane Katrina down to Louisiana and Mississippi where she led teams of volunteers in the reconstruction of homes and communities.
Most recently Hope has worked as a field guide for Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. She led groups of students through the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of Utah, fostering mindfulness and a therapeutic environment for healing in the outdoors. Hope continues to admire the work of her students - the strength and courage they embody as they persevere towards healing.
Hope loves to dance. She enjoys seeing the light in people's eyes when they are having fun, following their passions and doing what they love. She can oftne be found biking in Colorado and camping under the stars. But mostly, she loves being back in the mountains where her family and her horses live. Listening to her dad play guitar around the campfire, hiking with her mom and playing basketball with her brother are some of the happiest moments of her life.
nathan heath, mentor
Nathan grew up in Indiana, Michigan, and spending his summers exploring the wild places of West Virginia. He was also a wrestler and enjoyed competing across the country. His childhood was also filled with enjoying the outdoors with his family. After high school, Nathan attended Johnson University in Knoxville, TN, taking any opportunity to study and work abroad. Nathan received his BA in Intercultural Studies, with a concentration in Cross-Cultural Communication, Teaching English as a Second Language and Urban Studies.
Following his graduation, he moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and began his professional career in community development and disaster response. There he assisted in the operation of a community resource center, dedicated to helping Haitians and non-profit organizations work together to form everyday solutions to common problems. His time there was transformative and served to establish helping other as his primary life goal. Hurricane Sandy began sweeping through the Caribbean and back up to New York. Responding to this disaster returned Nathan to the US where he worked as the Coordinator of US Response helping families recover from the impact of natural disasters. When servere flooding brought him to Colorado at the end of 2013, he fell in love with the mountains and stayed.
Over the next couple of years, Nathan worked with students as an Outdoor Skills Director, Wilderness First Aid Instructor, and Leave No Trace Trainer. He also volunteered with a Search and Rescue team on the Western Slope. He fell further in love with mentoring and the mountains. This led Nathan to Durango, Colorado where he worked with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy as a Field Instructor. There he spend hundreds of field days with his students, working primarily with adolescent boys and young adults. It was in the deserts of Utah and the mountains of Colorado that Nathan witnessed the incredible growth that students can gain from therapeutic programs and lots of hard work.
Nathan is always excited to bring his experience, understanding and true self to his students. He finds it an honor to assist the young men working with 360 to become the men they want to be. Nathan is currently based in the mountains of Colorado. In his free time he lives to travel, work on old vehicles, and get outside. He is also a recovering coffee snob.
derek cragun, mentor
Derek was born and raised in a small suburb outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. From an early age he was passionate about exploring new places, and being in the mountains. He spent much of his younger years snowboarding and playing music with friends. After high school Derek began his first career as a stone-mason. Doing this type of work allowed him some creative expression, and he enjoyed the process of designing and creating new spaces. During the economic down turn it became more and more difficult to find work in the field, so he decided to pursue a different line of work. His love and passion for outdoor adventure brought him to a job with Second Nature Entrada Wilderness Program (now Evoke). Immediately Derek knew that this type of interpersonal work was a perfect fit, and that he would enjoy a long career in the helping profession.
After working a few years in wilderness, he decided that he needed to find a more sustainable schedule. This brought him to the Outdoor Experiential program at Gateway Academy. Over the course of five years he worked his way up to a management position for their transitional program. During this time he was able to take clients on many challenging and therapeutic outdoor adventures throughout the west.
After Derek left wilderness he attended the University of Utah, where he studied Social Work and Environmental Science. He is always looking to deepen his clinical knowledge, and is currently working towards a Master's in Social Work.
Derek has very much enjoyed helping clients navigate the unique challenges that transition brings, as well as celebrating the successes and overcoming these challenges. He has developed a strong understanding of the needs of his clients during their transition experience. His approach is very much centered around the relationship based model. He believes that building and maintaining a genuine rapport with his clients is the foundation on which positive changes can occur.
"Going through a transition can be a challenging time. My role as a mentor is to assist our clients in a personalized and intentional method that allows them to avoid being overwhelmed by the process. I role model my own passions and interests in an effort to help students explore and develop their own strengths and coping skills. I find that helping our clients assimilate into a healthy and supportive community of their own is vitally important in successfully navigating the challenges that can accompany transitioning into a different environment."
During Derek's down time you can usually find him in the mountains with his wife and two dogs. He enjoys backcountry snowboarding, rock climbing, playing guitar, fly-fishing, and watching movies.
taylor berhow, mentor
Taylor was born and raised in the greater Salt Lake City area. From an early age, her parents instilled in her a love for the outdoors, and she considers Salt Lake City to be a city for mountain people.
Taylor received her B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern studies, and spent several months living and studying in Jerusalem, Israel. While there, Taylor found a passion for working with and serving people, and learned very quickly that meaningful employment was going to be something that involved direct human interaction.
In search of that meaningful work, after graduating, Taylor moved to Washington D.C. to work for Congress on Capital Hill. Among other things, she helped to draft legislation and conduct research on mental health policy reform, in hopes of bringing awareness to the importance of mental and emotional disorders. One day, a co-worker gave her a book of famous political quotes, and one in particular stood out: "We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone." Reading this quote struck a chord, and Taylor realized working with people on a macro level in Washington would never be impactful in the way she had hoped it would be, so she moved back to Utah to begin all over again.
She started working at Second Nature Uintas, and immediately felt connected to the community of wilderness therapy, and felt her work as a field instructor was making an impactful difference on individuals. The process of seeing adolescents reconnect with themselves, and build meaningful relationships with their families was a life changing experience. Being a part of that experience is something she hopes to be involved in for many years to come.
Hoping to obtain a more sustainable schedule after over a year in the field at Uintas, Taylor began working as a Mentor for 360. She continues to find passion and meaning in working iwth young people and their families. In a continued effort to bring awareness to social injustice policy issues and mental health policy reform, she plans to begin work on a joint Masters in Social Work and Juris Doctor Degree.
kallie richards, mentor
Kallie was born into a large family in the state of Florida. At a young age, Kallie's parents decided to move their six kids to Asheville, NC. It was here in the beauty of the mountains and serenity of hte woods that Kallie grew up. She spent most of her time outdoors, whether that was hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway with her family, climbing trees in the woods with her siblings, or playing soccer. Kallie has always been very active and her energy and love of the outdoors has taken her on many exciting adventures.
Throughout high school Kallie was very involved in a number of sports including organized soccer, basketball and volley ball. After graduating Valedictorian, Kalllie went on to college where she studied Outdoor Education and played soccer. It was then that she experienced what it was like to have a very influential mentor. Her soccer coach, Courtney Nash, was very influential in a lot of ways, helping Kallie to grow and mature into the woman she is today. During the summers, she worked at a summer camp as an Adventure Team staff and also did her internship at a zip line and canopy tours company. Kallie received a B.S. in Outdoor Education and a minor in Adventure Based Counseling.
After graduating in May of 2014, she went on to further her growth and experience by working in wilderness therapy as a field instructor at SUWS of the Carolinas in the great and beautiful Pisgah National Forest. Not only was she intrigued by the change she saw in youth, she was surprised how much the work would challenge her to change and grow as well. Kallie learned a lot during her time at SUWS such as hard skills, interpersonal skills, and emotional skills. After some time, Kallie moved into the position of Graduation Coordinator, orchestrating the reuniting of parents and students after their journeys and time apart. It was here that Kallie began to see the true impact wilderness therapy can have on both students and their families.
Kallie transitioned away from field work and moved to residential work at a program called Eckerd. Here she worked as a senior counselor with boys who were sent there by the court system. She continued to learn to grow and see change in students but was also able to share her knowledge and experience with others. Kallie is excited to return to working outdoors more and able to spend more energy focused on each individual student. She is also honored to be able to use her experience in the wilderness and her understanding of the therapeutic processes to engage with young people returning home.
Kallie still loves the outdoors and being active. She still plays sports daily and enjoys dirt biking, kayaking, rock climbing, backpacking, disc golf, hiking and of course soccer. In her free time, you will most likely find her outside having an adventure of sorts. Kallie plans to continue her education to get her masters, but she is still undecided on the program of study she will choose.
sam verutti, mentor
Sam was born and raised in Davis, California. He had an athletic upbringing and engaged in a majority of the sports offered within his local community. Some of his fondest memories growing up included fly fishing, hiking and sailing with his brother and father, which is where his love for the outdoors began. At a young age, Sam was diagnosed with learning disabilities which set him apart from his siblings and peers. Feeling "separated" and struggling to fit in, Sam began seeking other ways to define himself. Feeling different from his brother and sister; he gave up the traditional sports in search of his own identity.
Sam's struggles as a teenager resulted in behaviors that forced his family to seek intervention. He attended Aspen Achievement Academy and completed high school at Positive Impact. Sam considers his time in treatment to be the most impactful experience of his life. After graduating, he made a commitment that he would return to work for a wilderness therapy program. He was only home for a short time before moving to a small town near Yosemite to pursue his education. After receiving his Associates Degree, and recognizing the importance of having access to the wilderness, Sam moved to Durango, Colorado to pursue a degree in Adventure Education.
When he completed his degree at Fort Lewis in 2012, he began working as a field guide at Open Sky Wilderness. Sam had a great deal of success reaching students in a unique way - through their shared experience, which proved to motivate and inspire individuals on their journey. While reflecting back on how challenging it was to return to society following treatment and recognizing the importance of having an effective support system through this fragile time, Sam quickly came to believe it was crucial for students to be able to connect with someone who understood and identified with the experience. After guiding at Open Sky for nearly three years, Sam made the decision to leave the field to further his education and pursue his passion for helping students "bridge the gap" between wilderness therapy and developing their identity in a healthy way in the real world.
In addition to Mentoring for 360, Sam works as a Community Resource Specialist at a mental health center in Durango, working with individuals coming out of crisis and helping them connect with resources so they can transition successfully. He spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors and traveling. As he leads as a Mentor in others' lives, Sam has found that for himself, high risk adventure activities such as snowboarding, white water kayaking and rock climbing help him to stay balanced and healthy in his life.
graham whitley, mentor
Graham was born and raised in rural eastern North Carolina. He spent many hours playing in the pine woods growing up, enjoying Boy Scout trips, and was also involved in sports. Being born into a family of nature-loving artisans, it was only natural that he quickly grew to enjoy making art and playing music. While in high school Graham spent three summers working at a Presbyterian sailing camp as a camp counselor. He facilitated water sports games and other activities.
After graduating from high school in 2004, Graham left the small town of Pink Hilll and attended UNC Asheville to pursue a music degree. Majoring in jazz guitar and saxaphone, he studied and played music intensively for 3 years. Prior to his final year at school Graham decided to take a detour and gain some life experience. He moved to Hawaii and worked on an organic citrus farm in the Hawaiian jungle and explored his surroundings and the culture. While living in Hawaii he became interested in working as a field staff at Pacific Quest and began his career working with teens in a therapeutic environment. He was a natural at building rapport and supporting teens with their emotional process.
Though Graham was very much enjoying his life and work in Hawaii he knew it was time to head back and complete his college degree. Graham graduated in 2010 from UNCA with a BA in Jazz Studies. Upon his return to North Carolina Graham volunteered regularly with a community called Heart Sanctuary. The volunteer initiatives included helping groups of people with stress management skills and teaching them to live a more heart centered life. This became an important focus for Graham ove the next few years and continues into the present.
Following graduation once again he found himself back in the woods working with adolescents and young adults at Second Nature Blue Ridge. This was a great fit for Graham. The experience was challenging, enlightening and fun and Graham felt right at home!
bill sassani, mentor
Bill grew up in the farmland and rolling hills of Hershey, Pennsylvania. From an early age he learned to appreciate the outdoors as a Boy Scout, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout. As an adult Bill would continue his outdoor interests while in college, spending his summers working in northern New Mexico as a backpacking guide at Philmont Scout Ranch. While there Bill fell in love with the beauty of the West and the Rocky Mountains.
Bill graduated from Penn State in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in History, and in 2002 he earned a master's degree in Outdoor Education from the University of Northern Colorado. He has worked as a wilderness guide and outdoor instructor for several organizations in Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska and Utah. In 2011 he completed the Southwest Outdoor Educator course from the National Outdoor Leadership School and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
In 2006 Bill began working as a field instructor for Second Nature Uintas. While there Bill could identify with Second Nature's mission, using the wilderness therapy experience as an opportunity for personal growth. He spent over 1,000 days working in the field and became a mentor-level Senior Field Instructor, working with other staff to develop their therapeutic, wilderness, and leadership skills.
One of Bill's beliefs about therapy is that everyone wants to be understood. Therefore Bill uses therapeutic techniques such as Motivational Interviewing to build rapport and create understanding. He uses this rapport to help clients find insight about themselves which can lead to change.
During his free time Bill enjoys all of the outdoor opportunities surrounding his home in Boulder County, Colorado. These include hiking, snowboarding, climbing mountains and most recently fly fishing. He also enjoys reading history and is a freelance writer.