The time has come for our most exciting announcement of the year! We, here at Explore Austin, have been anxiously awaiting today, when we get to share with you the New Mentors selections! We’ve got 11 new faces, each with a love of children and the outdoors.
Rather than tell you what we know about them, we decided to let them introduce themselves and share what made them passionate to become an Explore Austin Mentor.
“I want to be a mentor for many of the same reasons Explorers want to be a part of the program: – I want to contribute to my community - I want to become a better leader – I love being outside – I want to meet other like-minded individuals. Explore Austin is one of the only organizations I have come across that meets all these needs. Additionally, I am inspired by the thought of contributing to the success of another person who may later decide to give back to someone else. This creates a perpetual stream of giving which can truly change the world. I consider time my most precious resource, and Explore Austin provides an outlet for me to invest my time in promising individuals while having fun. Lastly, I am a constant learner, and I know I would learn as much from being a mentor as explorers learn from being part of the program.”
“In 2010 I was living in Buenos Aires and decided to go backpacking through Patagonia for three weeks alone. It’s crazy for me to think that I almost never went because I was tentative to travel alone, but I knew that I had to seize this opportunity. As I ventured further into Patagonia, I felt empowered and aware of my personal strength to achieve feats that I thought were beyond me. I forced myself outside my comfort zone with a will to succeed and, most importantly, a wanting to evolve. Yes, I came back a different person, a stronger person thirsty to push the boundaries again. My realizations are not exclusive to me, and I would love to help the Explorers discover that sense of pride and self-discovery, just as I did. My motivation to work with the Explorers boils down to positive impact. The teen years can be an impressionable time in a person’s life and I’ve always wanted to be a beneficial influence for those seeking guidance during that time. I had mentors during my teen years, which has motivated me to pay my gratitude forward onto others, in hopes that the cycle will continue. When I began looking into Explore Austin, I was very impressed with the 6-year curriculum and the model built around personal and team growth. My goal as a Mentor would be to help the Explorers realize their full potential as leaders and grow into a role model for a younger Explorer or schoolmate.”
“I grew up being TOLD about the future that may lie ahead of me. And that foresight is great. But I would cherish being a part of PREPARING youth for their open-ended horizons. A couple years back I was wishing I had an older adult mentor for personal and professional development. All I needed, I figured, was someone to give me a little of their time. I then realized that there are numerous people who need this same type of mentorship who could benefit from a little of my time. I relish in the idea of preparing underprivileged and at-risk youth to be a happy, confident, and contributing young adult. There are numerous mentorship avenues, but I am desperately attracted to Explore Austin’s model due to my unrelenting enthusiasm for the outdoors. Not only do I enjoy outdoor adventures, I see the benefits in using them as a conduit for personal development for growing youth. I believe the strongest bonds and lessons in interdependency are built through undergoing challenges and education together in a group dynamic. While a camp counselor, I could witness individual camper growth whenever our cabin group worked together on a task or whenever pretenses were tossed aside while around a campfire away from the main camp area. If nothing else, if Austin Explore solely provided a wealth of awesome outdoor experiences that will give kids lifelong stories to tell, it would still be worth it. But it is much, much more than that.”
“As early as I can remember, my grandfather pulled me aside and spoke one very powerful message to me that has stuck ever since- “if you can be comfortable outdoors, you can be comfortable anywhere…” This has shaped my life in more ways that you can imagine. I grew up as a child raised by a single mother, who was a Montessori teacher. She instilled in me that color does not define a person and that giving back to those who are less fortunate than I should be a priority. For many years I have worked with children and the outdoors, both in volunteering and professionally. I truly believe that giving has helped me become who I am, and that the outdoors have shaped me in more ways than any classroom, book or lecture ever will. Both volunteering and the outdoors has taught me respect, confidence, maturity, humility, how to plan, given me mental endurance and pushed me to succeed. If I can instill any of these traits in an Explorer then I believe that our next generation and the world that we live in will be a better place. This is why I wish to become an Austin Mentor and why I would be the best choice.”
“I would want to be an Explore Austin Mentor, because you all are a positive influence in the youth’s life. What is better than bringing a smile, happiness, and hope to the youth. This is something I have done in the past going back to high school. The church organization I attended and the basketball camp I worked for both were in the inner city limits. Every day I am blessed to be at a specific point in my life that I am proud of, and it was because of people who took the time to mentor me, that I reached the level I am now. Now it is my turn to provide these youth with the basic skills needed to become effective leaders in their own lives. In addition, I believe we learn just as much from the youth as they learn from us.”
“I saw the poster 10 minutes ago at the corner grocery store. While I was looking at it I started to remember all the nice things I used to do with my scout group. Camping, traveling, hiking, exploring. I was scout member from age 4 until I turned 24 and I strongly believe they were an essential part in my life. They helped me build my character and leadership skills. They taught me that nothing was impossible. Scouting also helped my family. For example, instead of spending every single weekend at the movies or the mall we were going outdoors with other families, we fundraised money for different charity causes, or we were involved in some healthy competition events. I believe that the most important part is that we made lifelong friends that helped us become a better family and community members. I moved to Austin 1 year and a half ago to pursue my master’s degree in Special Education. I love my work and I believe in formal education, but informal education activities such as the ones offered by Explore Austin compliment a child education in ways we can’t imagine. I currently work with low income communities and if there is one thing that I have learned is that when you provide these families with the opportunity to learn they will embrace it with all their heart. I feel Explore Austin is one of those activities they will benefit from. I really want to get involved with my new City and I know I have the skills and the background knowledge to help an organization like Explore Austin become better.”
“I have a desire for and receive great joy from helping people and the outdoors. It has impacted my life and I have built my career around it studying recreation and getting certified as a therapeutic recreation specialist CTRS. Mentoring the youth of our nation is a worthy cause.”
“It sounds like a perfect combination: Youth, Spanish, Outdoors and a lifelong commitment. I know I am going to be in Austin and was looking at various programs. I enjoy connecting youth with nature and building life skills. It sounds like an amazing program.”
Meredith (Mickey) Jacobs
“I’ve mentored for 4 years and I love it. I’m also an outdoor enthusiast–camping (mostly TX State Parks), hiking (a few big trips with Sierra Club to Big Bend and to the San Juan mountains), downhill skiing, kayaking Lady Bird Lake, walking or jogging the trail–Explore Austin seems to combine these two passions for me. It sounds like a perfect match, and I would love to expand my time and commitment to kids.”
“I want to act on a long-time desire to influence young people at a pivotal time in their lives. I believe that my adventurous and courageous spirit, experiences, accomplishments, and eagerness to help and interact within my community make me an ideal Mentor. I became a nature-lover as a sophomore in high school. I remember enthusiastically celebrating Earth Day that year. Ever since, outdoor activities have characterized the phases of my life. In high school, I was a mountain cyclist; in college, a rollerblader and runner. In graduate school, I became a road cyclist, and even raced on a team. During my time in Seattle, I enjoyed skiing and hiking. I now spend my days riding my bike around Austin streets, although I’m eager to explore nearby trails on foot and mountain bike. I know the value in experiencing something new. For example, courageously stepping out of my comfort zone as a scientist to become a flight attendant, a life-long dream, taught me humility. This experience also reminded me that I thrive off of the energy of others. I also know the importance of dedication and team-work; two key ingredients to my success in school. I want to inspire young boys and girls who may share my upbringing (Hispanic and raised in a single-parent home). I want to share my experiences in overcoming life’s hurdles and demonstrate the importance of self-accountability. I am eager for the opportunity to mentor, and live-by-example in the lives of Explore Austin Explorers.”
“I am committed to making a difference in the lives of today’s youth. I am originally from the Rio Grande Valley, a small town called Mercedes. I am of Hispanic descent and came from a single parent home. I have always had an interest in leadership and serving my community. Throughout most of my life, I have been very much involved in activities that focused on helping young people, most underserved, develop leadership skills. About two years ago I moved back to Austin and have been looking for an opportunity to give back to my community. I love the outdoors and have a passion for helping develop young leaders. It’s amazing how just a small thing like teaching a young person how to shake someone’s hand and have the confidence to look that person in the eyes, and what that will do to that child’s confidence. This organization excites me because of the impact it’s making in the youth of this community, which will ultimately change people’s lives. I know it will also change mine.”
Author: Lauren Mays
Lauren is the Marketing and Communications Intern at Explore Austin and is currently a senior, Architecture Major, at the University of Texas at Austin