Mike began working at the Colorado Outdoor Education Center in 2014 as a counselor at Big Spring Ranch for Boys. During his time with us, Mike has been a counselor, field instructor, assistant director, and director in both the Sanborn Western Camps summer camp program and the High Trails Outdoor Education Center school program. Additionally, Mike has been an instructor with the Colorado Outward Bound School and ski instructor at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. He received a B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Michigan and is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Avalanche Safety Level 1, and ACI Top Rope Climbing Instructor.
Following a passion for the outdoors and life-long pursuit of learning, Mike has developed a knack for taking on new adventures and teaching others along the way. If you ask him what his favorite outdoor pursuit is, you’ll watch as he struggles to wade through a long list of past adventures and exciting new projects. Mostly, you can find him skiing, climbing, biking, hiking, sorting through gear, or pouring over a map of a new route. For Mike, the best days outside are when he can teach someone new skills to promote their own independence and comfort.
Sarah began her career with COEC in the Fall of 2013, working as an instructor at High Trails Outdoor Education Center. After many seasons instructing and serving as assistant director, she became the director of HTOEC in 2017. Sarah earned a B.A. in History at Kenyon College while serving as the outdoor program president. Sarah has also worked as a trip leader for Overland Summers, a ski instructor for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, and an instructor for the Colorado Outward Bound School. Her certifications include: COVID-19 Contact Tracer from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Avalanche Safety Level 1, and AMGA Single Pitch Instructor.
The importance that outdoor organizations give to community and the endless opportunities for personal growth have consistently drawn Sarah to the outdoors. Taking part in many transformative experiences for herself and others motivates Sarah to continue working to bring people together and pursue adventures big and small. Sarah sees the outdoors as a classroom where we can learn about ourselves, each other, and the world around us. From a place of welcoming and acceptance, the outdoors has become a playground for Sarah to push herself and take on challenges on the rock, on skis, and on trails of any kind.
If full-time daydreaming was a job I’d be quite the success by now. Due to my nature, it makes sense why long bike rides and wanderings through the mountains are my go-to outlets for life. When I can combine them, it’s like having my cake and eating it too! Having lived all over Colorado, I’ve had my fair share of adventuring. As a kid though I stayed playing outside. I feel lucky to have been one of those stay-out-until-the-street-lights-come-on kids. Now as an adult, I get to provide those experiences outdoors for youth and community members as a trip leader and outdoor instructor. It’s the kind of job that often feels more like play than work. This adventurous, rarely dull lifestyle and career I’ve chosen is what I want to share with the world. I feel blessed to have bikepacked (almost) the entirety of the North American continent and to have introduced numerous cyclists, beginners to experienced, to the sport of bikepacking. So far, it’s been a lifestyle that gets me out of bed every morning!
Melody has been working throughout the state of Colorado for the last seven years in the fields of outdoor industry and education, farming and healthcare. She began working for the Colorado Outdoor Education Center in 2013 as a counselor at High Trails Ranch for Girls and has been consistently involved with the organization in a variety of roles ever since. Melody currently works for Summit Medical Center and holds her Emergency Medical Technician Certification. Additionally, she spends her winter getting up before sunrise to groom corduroy for the Nordic skiers near Leadville. Melody’s further certifications include: Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Avalanche Safety Level 1 and ACI Top Rope Site Manager.
Working with children and young adults is Melody’s passion and when she can combine that with the outdoors, it becomes a sacred space for learning, community and resiliency. Whether climbing, skiing, trail running or biking, Melody attributes her greatest personal growth to her relationship with the outdoors and the community it has cultivated around her. Big day in the mountains or small day at the crag, she believes in the power of the outdoor classroom in its inclusivity, humility, and intentionality. It’s also the place you can find her grinning ear to ear, giggling in awe of the beauty that surrounds her.