The events leading me to Verascapes started with my introduction to climbing over 15 years ago. Climbing and exploring opened my eyes to the world around me as I left the confines of my home state and explored this vast world. I started identifying injustices in education, environmental, and health policies that grew from long-standing power dynamics in the U.S. I began to recognize the privilege and power that I had to be able to travel and explore.

Discovering the outdoors and reconnecting to wild places impacted me in ways that changed my perspectives on the world we live in and my ability to make real changes. I hope that my work at Verascapes can help grow access to these spaces, increase equity in the outdoors, and help build a more inclusive environment. As a cis-gendered white female, I hope to use my abilities to be an ally for underrepresented, marginalized, and oppressed groups of people.

 

My journey to Verascape was much like the mountains I play in, varied, wild, prickly, and beautiful. After working in a predominately male space in the tech industry for seven years, I started teaching high school math and computer science to girls. My passion for making social justice changes began while working with these students—many of the scholars who identified as black women struggled in a predominantly white independent school. With the help of these students and several teachers, we were able to start building change in our community around diversity, equity, and inclusion: including creating the school’s DEI statement.

 

During February 2018, seven avalanche fatalities occurred in the Washington Cascades over a period of two weeks, where I responded to some of these recoveries as part of my role within Seattle Mountain Rescue; and felt a calling to pivot my educational goals. I became the Education and Outreach Manager at the Northwest Avalanche Center, where I helped innovate new educational experiences and programs to meet unfulfilled needs and continued education opportunities. With the support of board members and NWAC’s Executive Director, I took part in a leadership program, Leadership Tomorrow, that furthered my education around local policies and decisions that feed into the systematic oppression of BIPOC. This program called me to action, and I started exploring how I can make a difference in my outdoor community with respect to DEIJ.

Certifications and Credentials

● AIARE Pro 1

● AIARE ITC

● R-EMT

● WFR

● AMGA ASC 

● Leadership Tomorrow Cohort 2020

● Secondary Mathematics Teaching Certificate

● M.A. Economics

● B.S. Economics & Applied Mathematics

Cheri Higman
(she/her/hers)

Verascapes Education Director

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