May Shoutout: Jayah Faye Paley

This month’s Military Outdoors Shoutout goes to Jayah Faye Paley. Jayah is with Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta Chapter. Loma Prieta Chapter joined the Sierra Club Military Outdoors program in 2022.

How did you grow an interest in the outdoors?

I grew up in a muggy, buggy, flat area of the country. When I moved to California, I started hiking for exercise and discovered the wonder of being in nature, but my knees were not too happy.

The first time I saw someone using poles on the trail, it was like watching poetry in motion. That person – Bob – had started using hiking poles to condition his upper body while hiking. We connected and he taught me how to use poles. I immediately felt how poles transformed my outdoor exercise into a whole-body experience while supporting my joints, especially on the downhill. I loved the feeling of using my upper body to power uphill and the freedom poles gave me to enjoy being outside instead of always looking at my feet.  

With my anatomy and fitness training background, I wanted more info so I could get even more benefits from using poles but found nothing. That started my dream to create the only comprehensive training on how to use poles optimally for hiking.  

I realized how poles training could also help people who could no longer hike, so developed additional education for people facing mobility challenges. Helping people achieve, maintain, and even regain mobility is inspirational.  

What has been a standout moment for you working with your chapter’s SCMO program?

Helping veterans is profoundly gratifying. There are so many moments that touch my heart.  

The day I walked out of the VA Hospital proudly wearing my Blue Badge was exhilarating because, while it was a tedious and time-consuming process to get the badge,  I knew that we could now work with Vet Centers and VA Hospitals.  

Earth Day!  I received a lovely note from a therapist with the Peninsula Vet Center after this year’s Earth Day event: “I facilitate eight different groups of Veterans all over the age of 70, so the topic ‘pole walking for balance and mobility’ is very timely and relevant to the group members.  The men were very impressed with your level of attention to their individual needs, your clear instructions, and teaching style. We all learned a significant amount about our own gaits and how we can improve using the POLES.”

A group of veterans attending a Loma Prieta Chapter Earth Day outing in 2023
A group of veterans attending a Loma Prieta Chapter Earth Day outing in 2023 hold up Military Outdoors bandanas. (Photo courtesy of Jayah Faye Paley)


Why is SCMO’s work important to you?

When I first learned of the SCMO program, I knew that poles skills could be game-changing for veterans. Helping people who have served our country learn skills to more completely experience the healing power of nature (our SCMO concept of Outdoor RX) addresses not only physical health, but addresses emotional health without having to “talk about it.” 

Watching someone who thought the out-of-doors was closed to them forever move with more ease and confidence renews hope and feeds our souls.

My Shoutout: What I lacked in first applying for the SCMO program was a strong relationship with my local chapter.  Luckily, I found wholehearted and unwavering support from our Chapter Outings Chair, Lisa Barboza. She had heard of the program and was hoping someone would/could come up with a creative idea to serve veterans in our community.  Our Loma Prieta Chapter is ALL IN with SCMO!

What’s your favorite outdoor activity, and why?

Need you ask? Hiking.

Remember Bob? We’ve been married for over 20 years.


You can find the scheduled dates for the Loma Prieta Chapter's upcoming events online, including hikes and pole walking for various groups and ability levels. Learn more about Loma Prieta’s work at their chapter website.

Sierra Club currently has Military Outdoors programs in seven chapters – Alaska, Angeles (Los Angeles), Connecticut, Florida, Loma Prieta (Bay Area), New York and North Star (Minnesota). To get involved, you can contact your local chapter to join an outing or for training to become an outings leader yourself.

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