This month, we are welcoming 3 new board members: Olatunde Gbolahan, Scott Phillips, and Bryan Daigle. We’re excited to add these interesting and dynamic professionals to the Explore Austin team. Get to know Olatunde below and keep an eye on our social media for more!
How and why did you get involved with Explore Austin?
I learned about Explore Austin from connecting with Kathleen in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Urban Outreach Committee. The mission of Explore Austin, using mentoring and outdoor adventure to empower youth to reach their full potential, resonated with me. I have a love for the outdoors, value the positive impact it has on the whole person and understand the value of great mentor relationships. I thought if there was a way I could support Explore Austin in achieving it’s mission, I’m in.
Tell us about your experience climbing Kilimanjaro.
Summiting Kilimanjaro was one of the most challenging, difficult and amazing experiences of my life. Kilimanjaro doesn’t start at the base of the mountain. It started months prior as I did the work getting ready. I trained hard working up to long regular 10 mile+ hikes during the week with a 30lb pack, swimming for hours a week, and doing weekend farm work. I also traveled to Colorado to summit a few 14’ers to ensure I was prepared for the altitude. It was powerful, for the first time, getting back to Africa, the lands of my father, a land where I was, for the first time in my life, not a minority. Climbing Kilimanjaro itself was an emotional experience. We were told to bring one special item with us on the trip and I chose to bring my mom’s cap. If you look at any of my Uhuru Peak summit photos you’ll see me wearing this black cap. She had passed a few years earlier and having this small item at the top of the world with me helped me feel she was there as I achieved this big goal.
What is something you learned from your adventures that you’re looking forward to bringing to Explore Austin?
I learned that with proper preparation, you can accomplish big things.