Owen O'Brien

Hometown: Austin/New York City

College/Major: University of Texas, Plan II Honors & Psychology

Job: I work for Austin Travis County Integral Care, the local mental health authority, as a social worker on the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team. We respond to mental health crises throughout Travis County, providing assessments, supportive counseling, and living skills training to help individuals regain functioning, connect to community resources, and achieve their goals. Currently, I work the noon to 10 pm shift, and it has been both rewarding and exciting!

Favorite outdoor activity: Trail running and camping

What he/she does in his/her free time: I enjoy practicing yoga. I like the challenge of learning and improving up on poses and find the meditative, calming aspects of yoga helpful given the intense nature of my work. I love reading and listening to audio books, and I often listen to novels while running on trails in my neighborhood. I also enjoy practicing and improving upon my Spanish, which is both fun for me and useful for communicating with my Spanish-speaking clients. Finally, I like to prepare food — sometimes healthy creations, like colorful salads and smoothies, and sometimes semi-healthy desserts like homemade coconut milk ice cream!

Memory of outdoor experience growing up: When I was seven years old, I went on my first camping trip. We called it an 
“overnight” at the camp I attended in Michigan, and I was the youngest and smallest kid on the trip. We had to hike several miles over a bunch of big hills, carrying a lot of stuff, to get to our campsite. As we hiked, we noticed grey storm clouds forming in the sky above us, and the temperature beginning to plummet. No sooner had we finished dinner did it start pouring rain and thundering. It wasn’t safe to walk back so the camp counselors gathered us into a group, had us set up our sleeping bags on a tarp, and held another tarp just over our heads. I remember feeling a little scared but mostly excited at the adventure the overnight had become. At several points during the trip, different counselors complimented me on being “such a trooper,” “being brave,” and having a good attitude. Until this trip, I never thought of myself as particularly tough, courageous, or positive. Overall, this experience solidified my love of the outdoors and began to change the way I thought of myself for the better.
Looking back on this experience makes me even more excited to share my passion for nature with the Explorers. I cannot wait to connect them to the skills and the sense of self-efficacy that embarking on outdoor adventures can bring.