Student Stories

Eduardo Romero

Outdoor Leadership graduate 
Program assistant, Vamonos Outside

Romero works with Vamonos Outside, a Central Oregon organization that coordinates inspiring outdoor experiences for the Latinx community. The COCC program taught me how to be a leader,” he says. “I came into it with a lot of the technical skills needed outdoors, but I didn’t know how to manage groups of people and how to guide them.” Romero adds, “The most impactful experience I had was during our second expedition, which was a ski expedition, where I had the realization of how much I had learned. In our first winter expedition, I had an awful time in the snow — it was all a learning experience. In our second expedition, everything was easy because I became proficient at what I had learned before. I became more confident with myself and working with others.”  

Eduardo Romero

Jonas Crabtree

Outdoor Leadership graduate 
Project Manager, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium 

The stories proved irresistible for Jonas Crabtree. 

“I was working toward another degree at COCC,” explains Crabtree of his introduction to the Outdoor Leadership program. “At the time, my roommate was in the program and he would bring over these amazing people. They would share stories about the classes they were taking and the outdoor adventures they participated in. I was jealous that they were going on a bunch of outdoor trips.” Crabtree quickly switched his academic focus. 

“The Outdoor Leadership program is unique because you start as a small cohort and spend your time together for the duration of the program,” he says of the tightknit design. “Over the course of two years, we shared a lot of amazing experiences together.”

After graduating from COCC, Crabtree earned a bachelor’s degree in tourism and outdoor leadership from Oregon State University-Cascades. He was soon hired as a field guide, and later an expedition coordinator and operations manager, for a wilderness therapy program run by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, an agency that serves Native Alaskans. “We are a big team with one mission — helping youth succeed,” he says of his program’s part in the consortium, which coordinates months-long oceangoing canoe voyages. “It’s challenging, yet rewarding.” He’s now a project manager for the same organization.

Reflecting on the outdoor training and expedition experience that he received at COCC, Crabtree is quick to cite the importance of the personal growth component, something that goes hand-in-hand with the technical education: “We taught and learned together, we struggled together, and we grew together as individuals.” 

Martin Jacobi