Outdoor Outreach’s most important asset is its people. Our organization is only able to achieve its mission by hiring, developing, and retaining the highest quality employees and volunteers. We have a committed and passionate team who contribute to the organization’s success. Click here to see current job openings.
Christopher Rutgers is the founder and executive director of Outdoor Outreach. As a competitive skier, whitewater river guide, expedition rock climber and avid surfer, Chris has spent most of his life developing a passion for the outdoors. It was this passion that helped Chris overcome his own at-risk childhood. In 1999, he founded Outdoor Outreach as a means to give at-risk and underprivileged youth the same life-changing opportunities. Drawing from his own personal experiences, Chris developed the Outdoor Outreach philosophies that have proven to be so successful working with at-risk and underprivileged youth.
As founder of Outdoor Outreach, Chris has been nationally recognized as an expert on programming for youth at-risk. He is frequently asked to speak at national conferences and symposiums, and to consult with government agencies, academic institutions and other nonprofit organizations. Chris has served as an advisor to the California Governor’s Office, California State Parks and the National Park Service on developing programs for at-risk youth. In addition, Chris has won numerous local and national awards for his programs’ successes. He is a past recipient of San Diego’s KGTV Channel 10 Leadership Award and Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best.”firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe first worked for Outdoor Outreach in the winter of 2007 as a Climbing and Mountain Biking Instructor before moving to Los Angeles where he served as Program Director for UCLA Recreation’s Outdoor Adventure program. In 2011, Joe and his family migrated back to San Diego, and he is excited to once again be a part of the Outdoor Outreach community. Joe has 12 years of outdoor education and youth programming experience, working as a field instructor, team leader, logistics coordinator, curriculum specialist and director for a variety of outdoor programs in South Carolina, Montana, Oregon and California. Joe brings an extensive background in the planning, management and implementation of youth programs as well as a solid foundation in risk management and curriculum development. In his personal time, Joe can be found beaching, biking, kayaking, hiking and barbequing with family. Other personal interests and activities include photography, soccer, climbing and snowboarding. Joe@outdooroutreach.org
Yvonne first joined Outdoor Outreach as a volunteer in the summer of 2001 after returning from a coast-to-coast mountain biking trip in Costa Rica. “Although I’ve always lived by and loved going to the beach; it was not until I moved to San Diego that I experienced the great outdoors through mountain biking, hiking, backpacking and kayaking—passions I loved sharing as a OO volunteer.” Prior to joining Outdoor Outreach, Yvonne worked as a marketing professional and consultant providing strategic marketing, SEO/SEM, advertising and branding expertise for technology powerhouses like SAIC, QUALCOMM, Ericsson and the Active Network as well burgeoning entrepreneurial businesses. As part of Outdoor Outreach’s executive team, Yvonne now leverages her professional passions to help build greater awareness and support for Outdoor Outreach’s mission to empower youth to realize their own possibilities through outdoor programming. email@example.com
Scott Shepherd is a San Diego native and recent graduate of Fort Lewis College in Durango,
Colorado. Graduating with a degree in Adventure Education, Scott Shepherd is a lifelong
learner in outdoor pursuits ranging from sailing, to surfing, to climbing and back country skiing.
Scott has worked around the world in a variety of different outdoor and adventure education
jobs including onboard the S.V Concordia in 2009. Scott’s passion for surfing has lead him to
many adventures and is now continuing his adventuring with Outdoor Outreach. firstname.lastname@example.org
KJ first heard about Outdoor Outreach when she met Chris Rutgers while visiting San Diego and was immediately drawn to the program. One year later KJ moved to San Diego from her home state of Utah and joined the OO team. KJs adoration for the outdoors and all activities that make us giggle began with a thrill seeking father and a nature loving mother. KJ graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah and spent much of her free time skiing, climbing, mt. biking, river running, and traveling the world. It has always been important to show her gratitude and give back to her community by volunteering her time to programs such as ski patrol, kids programs, and trail/beach maintenance. She loves sharing her passion for the outdoors with the kids in OO. When not out in the field or in the office, KJ enjoys open mics, harvesting from her garden and yogacising;). email@example.com
Erika is serving at Outdoor Outreach as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Military Adventure Club. Erika served her first year as an A*VISTA in Vermont at a drug and alcohol prevention center for youth after completing a season at an outdoor adventure company in Utah. She realized her passion for helping and volunteering through this work as well as an interest in helping youth realize their full potential. She completed a year and a half as a VISTA Leader with United Way, but wanted to get back to working with youth outdoors and Outdoor Outreach was the perfect fit. Erika plans to take a NOLS course (National Outdoor Leader School: outdoor educator) and work with at-risk and underserved youth in outdoor therapy. Some of Erika’s interest and activities are: canyoneering, boating, hiking, reggae, graffiti photography, violin, and spending any time she can with her niece back home in Michigan. Erika@outdooroutreach.org
Merina is also serving at Outdoor Outreach as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She came all the way from Texas to serve as the Communications Coordinator. Merina graduated from the University of Houston where she majored in Advertising and a minored in Italian. She has experience with volunteering with at-risk youth, including being a former mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Merina’s hobbies include digital design, writing, reading memoirs, going to the beach and dabbling in the fine arts. She hopes to expand her outdoor skills such as, surfing and kayaking, while living in San Diego. Merina also quite frequently says y’all and doesn’t have any plans to stop. Merinam@outdooroutreach.org
Ben first volunteered with Outdoor Outreach in 2008 in order to share his passion for the outdoors. He has since been hired as an instructor and loves to share his favorite activities with San Diego’s youth. Ben is an avid surfer, snowboarder and rock climber and also loves to garden. Ben’s favorite animal is the coastal brown pelican, which he gets really excited to see while out surfing. firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregory has been involved with Outdoor Outreach since 2003. He joined us first, as a volunteer, then as a Program manager and is currently one of our Senior Instructors. Gregory’s background in Special Education, Youth Counseling and Martial Arts instruction adds a “unique flavor” to our team. Surfing, Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Backpacking are just a few of the many Outdoor activities that Gregory is passionate about .
Heather Clark joined Outdoor Outreach in 2007. Since her days as a surf instructor in high school, Heather has assumed a variety of positions over the years as an outdoor guide and environmental educator. She graduated from UCSD where she studied Media Art and Biology, and was trained as an outdoor guide through Outback Adventures. Now a program director at Groundwork San Diego, her passion for the outdoors permeates both her professional and personal life. In her spare time, Heather can usually be found in the ocean, the mountains, or a vegetable garden.
Patrick Carey joined Outdoor Outreach in May of 2009. Patrick graduated from CSU Chico with a degree in Criminal Justice. While attending Chico State Patrick worked as a snowboarding instructor at Boreal Mountain Resort in Tahoe. A certified EMT and member of San Diego Mountain Rescue Team, Patrick is a valued member of the Outdoor Outreach field staff. In his spare time he likes to snowboard, mountain bike, rock climb, backpack, surf, and fish.
Angel has been involved with Outdoor Outreach since his senior year at Gompers High School. As a participant in the Gompers Adventure Club, he caught the “stoke” and was instantly hooked on rock climbing, snowboarding and surfing. His natural leadership abilities and strong work ethic made him an excellent candidate for our Leadership Program, which he joined in January 2007. He currently works part-time as an instructor for Outdoor Outreach and is a full-time student at San Diego State University, pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering. Angel also works as a mentor in an after-school program at Lincoln High School, where he inspires up-and-coming teens to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals.
Cody first participated in Outdoor Outreach trips through our Partner Program with the Toussaint Teen Center. Throughout that time, he developed a huge passion for outdoor activities and loves being able to share that enthusiasm with new participants. These characteristics made him a great match for the Leadership Program and he has been involved with Outdoor Outreach in this capacity since January 2007. He loves snowboarding almost as much as the Chargers and is continuing to fine-tune his abilities as an instructor on all types of Outdoor Outreach trips. He graduated as Valedictorian of Lincoln High School and is currently a student at UCSD.
Jesse came to the program 6 years ago through South Bay Community Services and went on to be accepted into OO’s Leadership Program where he quickly showed an aptitude for snowboarding. Last year a snowboarding injury during competition led him to take a year off to pursue his degree and work for OO. What Jesse likes the most about working for OO is having the ability to make a difference in the lives of kids who had the same hard background did. Jesse credits Chris for changing his life through Outdoor Outreach and hopes he can do the same for other youth who are in the same situation.
Josh Jackson has fervor for both outdoor recreation and teaching, and he has spent over a decade trying to marry his passions. Josh has worked as a climbing, river and mountain guide throughout the West and Alaska. He has his BA in adventure education and wilderness leadership from Prescott College and an MA in outdoor experiential education from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Josh is a Wilderness EMT who has been active in search and rescue. In addition to working as an Outward Bound instructor, climbing-gym manager, wilderness therapy facilitator, field program manager, and a Wilderness Medical Associates’ instructor, he has served as adjunct faculty at colleges and universities, teaching such courses as expeditionary sea kayaking, white water rafting, rock climbing, back country skiing, ice climbing, surfing, map & compass, winter camping, wilderness leadership and wilderness first responder.
Juan has filled almost every role at Outdoor Outreach. During the past four years, he has been a participant and a member of our Leadership Program, and currently Juan is employed as one of our all-star trip leaders. Juan has become a recognized speaker on issues of youth violence. He was recently selected by The Outdoor Industry Foundation as an Outdoor Idol, where he serves as an ambassador to the outdoor industry. Juan graduated from City College where he obtained a degree in Chicano Studies.
Ryan is a 7 year veteran at Outdoor Outreach. After being introduced to the program through the Toussaint Academy, he became one of the first graduates of the Leadership Program. During the summer he is a full time Surf Instructor, but when the winter time comes he breaks out of his natural boundaries and heads to the Wasatch Mountain range in Utah. As an aspiring snowboarder, Ryan spends his winters in Little Cottonwood Canyon training to reach his goal as a professional snowboarder. He’s already caught the eye of some supporting companies like, Vans, Pro-Tec, and Gramicci Clothing. Here at home he is a role model for his generation and all kids with a similar troubled background. Ryan is proud and grateful to be a part of the Outdoor Outreach Program, it is his second family. “I knew from the moment I began my work with Outdoor Outreach that my life was only going to move forward and I have Chris Rutgers to thank.”
Sunny’s first contact with Outdoor Outreach was through a fundraiser in ’09. After speaking with supportive and positive staff members, she knew she wanted to be a part of the team. With a strong passion for the outdoors, Sunny realized the benefits of using experiential learning to engage youth and build resiliency. After graduating from UCSC with a double major in Sociology and Wilderness Therapy, she has worked with several youth organizations, leading adventure activities, backpacking trips and challenge courses. When Sunny’s not instructing, she’s out playing in water, snow or rocks.
Dustin is a new addition to the team at Outdoor Outreach. He is a recent graduate from Point Loma Nazarene University where he was highly involved in guiding with the Outdoor Leadership Program for four years and working as the Rental Center Coordinator. While at PLNU, Dustin gained experience working as a surf instructor for OB Surf and Skate, has volunteered as a tutor with Reality Changers, and led a weekly homeless outreach in downtown San Diego for three years. He is deeply addicted to surfing, rock climbing, backpacking, and the joy of sharing these experiences with others.
Amanda is an east coast girl with a California spirit. She received her multiple subject teaching credential from Pepperdine University and since then has been combining her passions of the outdoors and teaching by working at several Outdoor Education schools, camps, and programs around San Diego. She realizes the healing potential that nature has to offer all of us, and loves most any activity that encompasses bringing us closer to the outside world. She loves to travel, surf, hike, climb, EXPLORE and teach yoga. She was introduced to OO at a Mesa Rim charity climbing event and realized she had found her dream job.
Michael is extremely passionate about sharing the wonders of the outdoors. He studied Biochemistry and Mathematics at Point Loma Nazarene University; as well as being a student, he was the coordinator for the university’s outdoor leadership program. His hope was to provide students with leadership opportunities, which would allow them to lead effective and safe outdoor adventures. Through this time guiding, he began learning that “everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul” (John Muir). Now, Michael is attending Loma Linda School of Medicine where he will continue to pursue passion for practicing wilderness and austere medicine. If Michael is not guiding or in the library, you will probably find him on a rock.