My first outdoors experience happened was when I attended Tukwila Elementary School. I don’t exactly remember what happened on my first trip or who recommended me or how the opportunity presented itself, but I do remember my first trip was with ICO. Before my first trip, I never went out hiking or did any outdoor activities. I’m an immigrant from the Philippines, and hiking just wasn’t an activity my family was into. When I think about the trips I did with ICO and my classmates/friends - river rafting, snowshoeing, camping - it reminds me of why I fell in love with being outdoors.
Because of my experience, I see the outdoors as a place of sanctuary and reflection. I loved the outdoors and program so much in high school I became an EYES leader in which I assisted ICO leaders with the trips and got to know the kids who came along with us.
I am now a 9th-grade biology teacher for Summit Public Schools in Chinatown International District Seattle. Joining ICO as a leader felt like a natural stepping stone because I want to teach kids about sustainability and I want students that join us on trips - who were like me and never had that outdoor childhood experience - to love the outdoors as much as I do.