Monday, January 14, 2019

Guide Like Liz Scholarship Winner: Grace Anderson

Grace Anderson is another one of the phenomenal women who won the Guide Like Liz Scholarship in 2018. She is unwavering in her pursuit of the outdoors and spreading her joy to others along the way. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, and went to college at Winston Salem State in North Carolina. Before college, she didn’t really consider herself an “outdoorsy” person.

“The first peek I had into the outdoor world was through a college professor who recommended a program for people interested in science that also focused on conservation at the Bronx Zoo. So for two summers, I learned about teaching conservation to elementary school students at the Bronx Zoo.”

Before that, Grace wasn’t really interested in conservation. She was an elementary school major at the time, but this professor randomly recommended this program. “It was awesome,” she said wholeheartedly.

Grace descending Pingora in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.
After she came back from that second summer working in the Bronx, she saw that the Student Conservation Association (SCA) was offering alternative spring break trips. She applied for one in Joshua Tree and unexpectedly got a spot on the trip. “It was a week of camping, removing invasive species and climbing in Joshua Tree. It blew my mind away.”

From then on, Grace made environmental education her priority and worked in many states including North Dakota and New Hampshire. She started working with NOLS in 2013 in Lander, Wyoming.

“When I moved to Lander I had never really climbed, skied or experienced temperatures below 20 degrees; I wouldn’t have wanted to be introduced to snow sports or climbing any other way. Cross-country skiing was a lunch break activity in the winter and climbing year-round.”
Climbing in Wild Iris, Wyoming.

Throughout her outdoor and environmental education experiences and background, Grace has found her heart for connecting more people, especially those with limited access and/or marginalized access, to the outdoors. She intends on taking the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course and Exam with her scholarship.

“Completing an AMGA SPI course opens many doors for me to teach climbing with folks who might not otherwise see themselves reflected,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “I would like to increase more role models of color in the outdoors.”

She is involved with organizations like Brown Girls Climb and GirlVentures that have similar goals. “The best way to increase the diversity of the outdoors and who is leading in the mountains is to radically share skills. With opportunities like the Guide Like Liz scholarship, we have the ability to change the narrative of who is out front in the outdoors and to invite other people, previously excluded, in,” she wrote.

When we talked more about short and long-term goals she has for herself, she said, “I am at a place where I know a lot about climbing, but the biggest barrier is certifications and learning to lead students in certain ways. I have taken climbing seminars, but I want something more generally recognized.

I believe that climbing is one of the best teaching tools - for leadership, confidence and challenging and so much more. I look forward to using the skills gained from this opportunity to continue to use outdoor education as a teaching tool.”


"Hiding from the multitude of people in Black Corridor." Red Rock Canyon
Congratulations, Grace! Thank you for choosing us to be a part of your amazing journey! Keep crushing!

All photos provided by Grace Anderson.

--Sara Jung, AAI School Certifying Officer and Guide




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