We launched our #InstagramTakeover series to highlight the incredible students, alumni, staff, and instructors who define us as an organization. Check out our IG Takeover with Tiffany Thio – a two-time Outward Bound alumna who is now entering the field of environmental science. See more IG Takeovers on our Instagram, @nwoutwardbound.
We’re looking for more staff and students to share your stories! If you want to take over our Instagram page, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi, I’m Tiffany Thio, a former student at Outward Bound! I did two courses: a 2 week backpacking trip when I was 14 at COBS, and a 2 week rafting/backpacking trip when I was 17 at NWOBS. My family isn’t super outdoorsy and I grew up in big cities, so OB was the first introduction I had to hiking! Since then, being outside has become such a huge part of my life, career, and identity. My OB experiences were an amazing entry into that, and I’m super excited to share this week with you all!
I just graduated from my undergrad last year at Reed College (studying Environmental Studies/Chemistry), where I also worked as a coordinator for the Reed Outdoor Program for four years and was part of the mountaineering, kayaking, and surfing groups, and volunteered as a bike co-op mechanic! Right now I work at the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership in Portland, OR doing water quality/wetland restoration monitoring, and am in the process of getting my M.S. at Johns Hopkins in Environmental Science & Policy. I truly don’t know what I want to do with my life in the big picture, but I know that it involves a lot of rivers and really good food and people! This is a photo from an epic fieldwork birthday party last summer!
The environmental, outdoor education, and STEM fields are predominantly white, straight, cisgender, and male. As someone who doesn’t check all these boxes, my experiences in these three areas have sometimes been frustrating and difficult. One of Outward Bound’s values is diversity and inclusion, and this is such an important issue in the outdoors!
I’m particularly interested in environmental inequities—how certain groups are excluded from decisions that affect their environment, how access and safety in outdoor spaces is linked to privilege, and how some communities bear the brunt of pollution, sea level rise, and more. My senior thesis in environmental chemistry last year focused on quantifying the distribution of metal pollutants in Johnson Creek watershed sediment. Many of the communities with high racial diversity live in areas of this watershed that are more degraded and hydrologically disconnected from the creek. Learning more about polluted sediment is helpful for health reasons and for restoration projects in the waterway!
My favorite course area was definitely the Deschutes River! I loved this part of the course for many reasons. Water is so fun and beautiful and significant to me, and to be in such a gorgeous place for a whole week was a gift. I think I spent about as much time swimming as I did in the actual raft! I wanted to go back so badly that I actually led a short backpacking trip along the Deschutes River’s old railroad one weekend for my college’s outdoor program.
The raft-steering skills I got also helped me in other post-course adventures too—I got to raft guide occasionally while teaching kids paddling camps and working at a kayak shop, and when I borrowed a raft for a protest on a river!
I can’t say enough good things about Paul Taylor (@rainlocus), who worked with NWOBS as a Portland Schools Program instructor. We led a college outdoor orientation trip together at Reed last fall, and I had SO much fun. He has this incredible kindness and awareness, tells the best stories, and cooks delicious food on a camp stove! Anyone who gets to work with Paul or be a participant on one of his trips is so lucky! He also has two adorable daughters and the sweetest dog, Buju.
Thanks for joining me on this NWOBS Instagram Takeover adventure! If you want to take over our Instagram page next then email email@example.com. We’re looking for staff and students to share your stories.