Parker Bounds JohnsonFounder in Spirit
Parker's experience in Wilderness Therapy in the Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina in the Fall of 2009 was an experience that changed the course of his life and gave him some of his very brightest years as a young adult. He said in Wilderness the fog lifted and he found himself again. He felt at peace and a sense of self-reliance he had forgotten and most importantly he felt hope for his future. We are certain that this time in Wilderness Therapy gave him and us 5 more priceless years together on earth.
As a family, Parker, Dan, Liz and sister Breanna actively talked and dreamed about doing something to help get more young people to Wilderness. A place, a movement, a community...we even talked about how we would build it and what roles each of us would play. Parker even laughed out loud when we asked him, "what role are you going to play?" and he replied, "I will be at the top. I will be overseeing everything. I will be like the head counselor." He then said, "let's do this!" Well the irony is that it now seems that he is taking the lead role in making this happen. He feels very much alive in our hearts as he inspires us to forge ahead and make his dream a reality to help other young people just like him find their way through Wilderness Therapy and beyond.
The world needs more dreamers. The dreamers are those who can see beyond what is and imagine something better. Thank you Parker for your vision and for inspiring us to "just do this!"
Dan Executive Board President
Liz, Breanna and Parker are the love of his life. He has devoted his hands, back, brain, and heart to them. “All that I am, have, do, and dream, is because of them." He was born and raised on a farm in Sunnyside Wa. He has three brothers and four sisters. He learned at a young age to work hard and play hard. He doesn’t sit still well. He would much rather be outside in adventure with family or friends, or working on a “project”. He loves people.
Dan graduated from the University of Washington in 1985 with a BS degree in Construction Management. He went on to construct large commercial projects in San Diego for 5 years before moving “home” to Portland and going to work for Skanska USA Building. In 27 years, he rose in the ranks to become the Vice President of Operations for Skanska’s $450M Portland operations. He has had a hand in many projects covering the Portland, Central Oregon and SW Washington region. He says “Construction is a “people” business like no other. Im lucky to love what I do with great people". His great joy is to witness the success people develop and the benefits that personal and professional growth provides them and their families.
Dan has worked his whole life "making things happen". He has great vision, creativity, organizational and leadership skills. He has proven abilities at turning a vision into actions and reality. He has done a significant amount of public speaking, and has the ability to motivate and inspire.
Dan has witnessed first-hand the devastating impact addiction, substance abuse, mental health challenges and suicide can have on people and their families. He has also seen the power of "Wilderness" and other treatment programs that return young adults back into the arms of their families and friends healthy and with renewed hope for their futures. Dan is committed to sharing with families the possibilities for treatment for their loved ones, supporting the good work of the American Foundation Suicide Prevention and as Parker dreamed--"send one kid a year to Wilderness."
Liz Executive Board VP
A few facts for the record: I earned my Bachelor or Arts Degree in Business Administration at the University of Washington and an Associates Degree in Interior Design at Portland Community College. I have owned and operated a business in residential and vacation property management for over 30 years. I have been an Interior Designer for nearly 20 years. I have worked for JCPenney as a buyer and merchandise manager and at Nordstom in commission sales. As a teenager I worked through school as utility worker for the City of Bellevue and as a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons to students from pre-school to the elderly at Edgebrook Club and for Bellevue and Mercer Island Park & Recreation. I worked my way through university at Puget Sound Power & Light Company that granted me a 4 year full ride scholarship to the UW. I have taught private art lessons. I have distributed phone books and delivered newspapers door to door. I even owned and operated a pop machine with my husband when we were first married.
My volunteer involvement revolved around my kids--Breanna and Parker, animals, and art. I was enthusiastically involved in the Art Literacy Programs in the Reedville and Beaverton Public Schools for many years. I was selected as a graphic artist for large projects in schools when I was a teenager as well as an adult. I have been involved in my kid's scouting and sports teams and was an assistant to Parker's Barbarian Rugby team--a true highlight. I have been a lifelong personal advocate for the humane treatment of animals and was an involved volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society. I am the Oregon group facilitator of Helping Parents Heal--a grief and healing support group for parents who have lost a child and for their grieving family members and close friends.
Interests lead me toward nature, exercise, family, friends and animals. I am a supporter of Best Friends Animal Society and even visited Angel Canyon in Kanab, Utah with my daughter. We had all just celebrated Parker’s graduation from In Balance Transitional Living in Tucson AZ and were heading back to Oregon. I am a vegetarian. I am learning to climb really big trees. I am a beginning urban bee keeper waiting for my first swarm. I garden. I hike. I backpack. I scuba dive. I ski. I am learning to kite board. I kayak. I water ski. I have run all 200 miles over 12 years from Mt Hood to Seaside in the Hood to Coast Relay with my team. I am privately learning to play the drums in my basement as therapy. I am beginning to practice Xi Gong and Yoga. I draw. I paint. I used to sew all my own clothes. I love animals and have had several pet house rabbits among an array of many scaled, feathered and furry beings. My recent claim to fame is I can make rice crispy treats using just one pan and one spatula. I especially love to spend time with young people and talk about deep subjects about life, the earth, the universe and beyond.
When I am outdoors in the wild places--whether it be oceans, rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, deserts or jungles--in any season-- I can breathe. I can shed my skin. My sadness and anxiety can lift. I feel renewed, nurtured and even empowered when I am in Wilderness. It feels healing of mind, body and spirit and reminds me what is essential. This love of wild places feels innate to my spirit. And it is a gift that has been nurtured by my family to whom I am grateful. I'd like to play a small part in paying this gift forward for another as I honor the legacy of my son's life. It had a significant impact on Parker when he received the gift of healing through a wilderness therapy program
Over the years they shared in many adventures, such as annual summer rafting trips, hikes, and hanging out with friends on Mt. Hood. Since graduating college, Taylor continues to volunteer for her college sorority Alpha Phi and works as a Corporate Recruiter.
She enjoys spending time with family, a good book, and making new friends. Taylor hopes that through the Parker Johnson Foundation we can provide young people with hope through the power of wilderness therapy programs and outdoor activity.
Helping people is something that I have always been passionate about, which naturally led me to the field of education. I received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Willamette University and then received an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology from the graduate school at Lewis & Clark College. I am currently working as a School Psychologist at a middle school in the Battle Ground School District.
My job affords me the opportunity to work with amazing kids who with added support, resources, and positive opportunities, I have witnessed the resilience they have to fight whatever struggle they may be having. Nature is one of those resources that I believe invaluable to expose young people to and one that I personally use as a coping skill to deal with life’s daily challenges.
Helping to connect struggling youth with the power of nature through PBJF is why I find so much value in being involved with this foundation.
Matt Program Liaison
His ongoing work in the field of residential treatment focused on young adult transition and substance abuse recovery. Matt's personal and professional experience help him to provide insights on many levels while families in crisis navigate the therapeutic process.
Matt enjoys all things outdoors, including rock climbing, and is excited to work with Wild Hearts and PBJ to help wilderness graduates stay connected to Nature, and sustain the skills they learned in the programs they attended.
She is an advocate for mental and emotional health through connection with nature, creative expression, exploration of self, alternative medicine, acupuncture, movement forms such as yoga and qi gong, and communication within close-knit community.
Breanna's background has many facets. Her identity is built upon a foundation of the lifelong practice of tactile art and craft. She feels the most herself when she is creating, when the world around her dissolves, and she allow raw authenticity and unquestioned translation of emotion and thought come to life through color and form.
The creative sphere of her brain is balanced by a strong left-side that has grown through years of education in science and math. From Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, she earned a Bachelor's degree in Biology with a focus on Chemistry and Spanish. Her passion for healing and wellness fueled her to further her education in the direction of Naturopathic and Chinese Medicine, and she attended National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
Cross-cultural connections are important to Breanna as well. She has lived abroad in Ecuador and Spain, where she studied Spanish and taught English to people of all ages. As a self-proclaimed "citizen of the world," she loves to encounter opportunities to use language to bridge cultural gaps.
Breanna has gained insight through a variety of challenging work experiences. She has cared for elderly clients nearing the end of life and taught children of all ages about science, crafts, songs, and the outdoors. She has counseled and led at-risk teenage girls in a behavioral rehabilitation facility.
Amidst years of self-reflection through observing, processing, and sharing her thoughts and emotions, Breanna has created tools to guide and support herself through difficult experiences. She feels most people in society today are not taught such skills. She draws inspiration from Eastern and Western Philosophy, and most importantly from perspectives of close friends and family. She believes everyone has wisdom to share; usually it's up to the listener to interpret the messages.
In September of 2014, Breanna began the most challenging chapter of her young life. Parker, her brother/best friend/soul mate -- after many years of existential struggle, accompanied by substance abuse and mental health challenges -- chose to disembark from his body. Breanna and her boyfriend were the first to discover this choice the next day.
Through the processing of trauma and grief, she has gained deeper self-knowledge and a greater capacity to understand the suffering of others. Her acknowledgement of life as the ebb and flow of learning, growing, and teaching now anchors her deeply in a sense of purpose.
She feels that her purpose in life is to access the intersection of her own healing and the healing of others, by doing her part to ease needless suffering, through art, words, music, activism, education, communication, and any other avenues that arise.
"Many people are out of balance with nature itself and disconnected from their own true nature. This can lead to distorted thought patterns, isolation from others, and ultimately cause mental, emotional, and physical health imbalances. I think the problem lies within the human 'disease' of amnesia -- forgetting who and what we really are. I would like to do what I can to contribute to the effort of remembering."
Breanna touches on her process of experiencing and exploring the ripples of the loss of her brother in her blog: Ponderosa Pancake
Her introduction to PBJF was serendipitous. Knowing her background, Dan Johnson sought her guidance on the fundraising and planning for the inaugural “Way to Wilderness” dinner and auction in 2017. At the very moment he approached, she was struggling with how to help a loved one close to her in need. It didn’t feel like chance – it was meant to be and getting involved was a foregone conclusion for her. Debbie will bring her fundraising experience to the PBJF sharing best practices and strategies for identifying funding opportunities.
Debbie lives in Downtown Portland and is Senior Director of Business Development at Skanska USA Building. She is the proud mom of TJ, Marie, Avery and Jack (Jack featured here!) She loves the outdoors, solving problems, and meeting new people.
Chase’s connection to Parker, the healing power of nature and ultimately the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation dates back to a therapeutic ski/snowboard trip in January 2010 where Parker was a new arrival in Arizona to a transitional living program. For years Chase helped to co-develop, grow and facilitate therapeutically lead experiences where his understanding of the power of nature proved more transformative and healing than psychotherapy alone. These experiences ranged from ski/snowboard trips at the company cabin in the White Mountains, to annual 5-7 day backpacking trips to the Havasupi Waterfalls in the Grand Canyon, to immersion/volunteer trips in townships in the Western Cape of South Africa.
Chase studied clinical Social Work at Arizona State University and earned a Bachelor of Social Work, Graduated Magna Cum Laude in College of Public Programs. A natural healer with the gift of intuition and an insightful understanding of the human condition, Chase acts as an adviser and consultant to those seeking a deeper sense of self and more meaning in their lives. Passionate about the heart and mind opening experiences that only travel can yield, his current mission is to help facilitate mindful travel opportunities for those seeking a deeper perspective of life into Southern Africa. Grateful for a brilliant network of worldly friends due to his natural ability to make connections, Chase invites everyone to “travel while you can with empathy and compassion".
A well-versed Behavioral Health Technician at In Balance Continuum of Care with 8 years experience in outpatient, inpatient, and transitional living settings as lead staff, Chase established therapeutic relationship with residents, acted as role model in maintaining hopeful and positive attitude in problem-solving and coping with disabilities associated with mental health challenges, provided support to assist in the recovery process, led therapeutic groups, planned follow-up and aftercare programs for clients, facilitated interventions, facilitated spirituality and healthy living groups, counselled clients to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, and making changes, supervised and trained staff in implementing health programs, objectives, and goals; adhered to laws of confidentiality, participated in individual and weekly group supervision, treatment reviews and other agency meetings as necessary, attended case conference, supervision, departmental, and outside meetings and training as requested, conferred with other counsellors in order to analyse individual cases and to coordinate counselling services, conducted outcome studies for graduates/ discharged clients, and maintained professional code of conduct at all times.
Chase has strong sales, leadership and relationship-building skills. Excellent verbal, listening and writing skills. Adept at multitasking to achieve individual and team goals. Diverse vocational experience includes sales, group facilitation, client-centered empowerment, clinical supervision, and interventions. Extensive knowledge of human and industry behavior and performance, mental processes and assessment methods.
Chase’s personal creed is to live life encouraging affirmative community and inspiring emotionally safe spaces for everyone to tell their story.
For the past 25 years, Ted has held senior leadership roles with global brands such as Hilton, Wyndham, and Red Lion Hotels. Ted deeply values family, friendships and community.
Ted has always found his strength and spirit in the outdoors. Using the medium of nature to teach and mentor youth has been a life long passion.
My approach for thirty years, in settings from the wilderness to classrooms and offices has been to support that felt sense of safety and to help people experience authentic relationship. Our bodies unconsciously decide from moment to moment am I in danger or it’s safe to connect. If I don’t have to fight or run or freeze to be safe then I can be open to learn, to engage and to heal.
I work with ages 12 & up, couples, co-parents and families. I work with you to help you learn and practice new ways of feeling ok and building relationship. I enjoy using experiential activities indoors and out to engage folks beyond only sitting in chairs and talking.
I was born and raised in Kentucky and worked in many experiential and wilderness programs with teens before completing my Bachelors degree at The Evergreen State College and Masters in Social Work at Arizona State University. The past twenty five years I’ve had training in many approaches including addiction treatment, trauma informed therapy, attachment, Collaborative Problem Solving and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Most importantly, I’m experiencing the joy and challenge of co-parenting twin girl and boy teenagers.
In 2006, Tiffany helped to develop the In Balance Transitional Living program. She has more than 15 years experience working with addiction and mental health issues and has seen first hand the devastating impact it has on young people and their families. She has passion to be a part of the process that assists young people in finding their true power and purpose again and to connect to a community where they believe they belong. She is committed to impacting as much change as possible in
Josh has been a Board member of several nonprofits, and brings 20 years of experience in serving troubled youth to his board position at PBJ. He holds a Master’s degree in psychology, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Josh’s path in helping troubled kids came from his own experiences as a troubled kid, and through his work with students and organizations, he seeks to repay the kindness that was shown to him when he was younger and walked a challenging path.
Josh has been happily married for over 15 years. He and Maureen have a high-school aged son who is the light of their lives. In his free time, Josh enjoys obsessing over baseball, building and playing guitars, hiking with his dogs, and most importantly, spending time with his family.
Brian returned to school, receiving his Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT). He has been an educator for 15 years, 14 of which have been with the Beaverton School District. Brian leveraged his MAT and Business and Marketing degree into a position teaching Business and Marketing at Beaverton High School in 2002. Currently Principal at Raleigh Park Elementary, Brian has also held positions as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) at Scholls Heights Elementary and as an Assistant Principal at both Beaverton and Aloha High Schools.
Brian is grateful for the gift of having worked with children, adolescents and young adults of all ages and backgrounds. Humbled by this calling to serve, he is especially proud of the opportunity to work with students who are impacted by issues related to poverty, English language acquisition, learning disabilities and social-emotional health.
The Mood Official Band
WesleyHeart and Soul
Emily Families of PBJ Wild Hearts Leader, Moms' Tribe
I’m thankful for PBJWilderness4life because we see the great importance of not only helping kids get into an outdoor behavioral healthcare/wilderness therapy program but also we recognize the support we families need during the new and on going journey.
I facilitate our PBJ Wild Heart Moms Tribe in the Portland area. It is a safe place where moms can come and just be, without judgement. An hour or so of release, where our at the end, our problems haven’t necessarily changed but our energy feels stronger to get through the next moment. We also share information about local activities to help connect our kids with other kids on similar paths.
Connecting with other parents who are going through similar situations with their child(ren) in regards to mental health/addiction makes the struggle hopeful. Hearing others stories so similar to my own makes me feel comforted and safe.
I’m thankful to have such a wonderful group of moms whom I get to be around every other week and to help connect people and their kiddos.
My other PBJ role is to help introduce and bring “Wilderness Kids” (and their families) together and invite them to be a part of our Portland area PBJ Wild Hearts Meet-Ups.
Our Portland area PBJ Wild Hearts Moms Tribe meets every three weeks. Please join anytime—come as you are—you are always welcome. Email me for meet up details at [email protected]
If you’d like to connect with me to just talk, or join our Portland Area Moms Tribe, or to get more information on local Portland area weekly and monthly Wild Hearts Meet-Ups for our teens/young adults, I am here to help welcome you and get you connected with our other team leaders.
Bret Families of PBJ Wild Hearts
I found my calling in 2007 as a wilderness therapy field guide. For three years I tirelessly dedicated myself to the work until I earned a role as the field supervisor. Wanting more clinical and educational experience, I enrolled into Portland State University’s School of Social Work.
During my graduate program I focused on youth struggling with mental health and addictions both as a case manager and an addictions counselor. I continued to explore the complex issues of youth and mental illness as a school social worker at an alternative high school in the Portland metro area, until I received my graduate degree.
After graduating in 2012, I quickly returned to wilderness therapy as a therapist for an emerging wilderness therapy program in Wisconsin. When the company opened a new field area in Bend, Oregon, I played an integral role in developing foundational elements of the new program as a Primary Therapist and most recently as Clinical Director.
I am a trained level II Brainspotting (BSP) specialist. My focus is on attachment therapy, family systems and trauma informed care. I specialize in the treatment and placement of adolescents and young adults experiencing acute and complex mental health and addiction struggles. I belong to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and am licensed in the state of Oregon as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
When I am not immersed in my work with clients and families, I enjoy and embrace the outdoor lifestyle of Bend, Oregon and can usually be found on top of a mountain, paddling down a river or traveling and exploring the great outdoors with my partner of 17 years.
I studied genetics, cell biology and seed plants in college, emerging with a biology degree from Stanford University. I later earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of Washington.
My professional life includes work in a basic research laboratory at Yale Medical School, in two small Seattle biotechnology companies and for Panlabs/MDS Pharma Services, a contract research company, in support of early-stage drug discovery.
I remain a natural world enthusiast!
I spent a couple years working as a staff member at the Transitional Living Program before moving back to my hometown of San Diego, where I worked as a finish carpenter for 7 years. During that time I hiked 1000 miles of PCT.
I currently live in Portland, Oregon with my girlfriend working towards a career in the Fire Service and Emergency Medical Services.
My drive to be a part of PBJF is near to my heart in many ways;
I understand firsthand what the wilderness therapy experience is like, as an alumni, and as a friend of many who have had the opportunity to go through it.
I understand that the wilderness environment provides opportunities for growth and introspection that cannot be offered elsewhere.
Suffering from mental health is familiar to me with many close relationships.
I get the opportunity to help carry forth my good friend Parker’s amazing idea with his family and friends.
I received my degree in sociology and psychology from UCLA and am working toward becoming a mental health counselor. I live in Portland and work as a Psychiatric Technician at a residential psychiatric facility for children and adolescents. I have seen firsthand how wilderness therapy can benefit those who struggle with mental health issues and I wish that it was more accessible to kids, which is why I think that PBJ Foundation is so wonderful.
Though I never met Parker, I have gotten to know his wonderful parents and I am proud to work with them and this network of other caring individuals. I am excited to be involved with PBJ Foundation with its powerful mission to help people.
I have had many great losses in my life, and have experienced more pain than most people my age. I have and continue to struggle, which is why I am so passionate about helping those in need.
Everyone needs to know that there is a life worth living on the other side of depression and other mental health challenges.
I have a service dog named Copper, and he helps me through every day as well as during crisis. I've been certified as a peer support specialist, and have a high school diploma.
I've also personally experienced the healing benefit of nature. I believe art, nature and whole body wellness (acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, myofascial release therapy, clean diet etc. combined with medication management) is key to defeating the horrors of feeling hopeless and helpless. I am excited to be part of something that is so desperately needed!
I’m originally from Washington, DC but I go to college in Portland, OR and it can be challenging to maintain my wilderness roots. The online wilderness community connected me to the PBJ Foundation and I am so grateful that I found it. They are providing access to the connection that we find at wilderness and can easily lose back in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. PBJ Foundation also helped me get my Youth Mental Health First Aid Certification, which was an incredible experience and gift.
I have been given so much in order to be where I am today and I am so happy that I have the opportunity to connect, learn more, and give back.
With aspirations of getting a degree in psychology, and one day perhaps working as a therapist, the experience left me with more questions than answers. How can I contribute to the mission that OBH programs live out? I was left with that nagging thought in my head, and a lack of answers. After many long talks with friends and family, I finally found a way. My mother decided to introduce me to Elizabeth Bounds, to see if I could somehow assist the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation.
During my winter break, Liz and I quickly sketched out a plan. We realized that the PBJ Foundation was in need of media outreach and interview assistance. And so, we decided that I could use this upcoming summer to do just that. I was tasked with reaching out to as many Wilderness Therapy attendees and graduates as possible, including PBJF scholarship recipients.
Now that the time has come, I am dedicating my summer to this outreach project. I hope to contact as many adolescents as possible, then meeting to conduct interviews with them, their friends, families, and their support systems. I will turn these stories (with their consent, of course!) into written accounts, creating detailed biographies of their Wilderness experiences for PBJ media platforms. These writings, we are hoping, will make Wilderness4Life more nationally and locally visible, while also making Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare programs more well-known and accurately understood by the public.
While I never knew Parker, I have heard many stories about the lives he touched while he was with us. In fact, I recently discovered that my connection to Parker goes back many years. In 2009, Parker was referred to an OBH accredited program through the assistance of my mother and Educational Consultant, Ann Davidson. It took me many years to realize it, but I now understand that Parker, his family, and my own are so closely connected. This is a truly humbling discovery.
I’m so honored to live out the mission of Liz, Dan, Parker and countless others this summer. Thank you to the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation for this opportunity of a lifetime.
As a result, I have made it my mission to try and destigmatize mental health issues and stimulate discourse through my writing.
My purpose in this lifetime is to help others see a light they've lost hope in. I know first hand what it is to feels like to lose hope, especially when losing someone you love and feel is so near and dear to your heart. I suffer from many things they try to box me in. Parker has shown me to not allow that to dictate me as a soul.
I've learned that being outdoors and feeling the breeze hit my face, maybe even the rain, reminds me life isn't so bad. Maybe it's then in the moments I truly feel closest to my best friend Parker. You hear the term best friend, but it's more than a friendship, it a connection to the soul that one only feels once in a lifetime.
My purpose is to help others feel Parker's love and comfort, even the most bad ass, tough, kick-ass person can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They can feel overwhelmed with life's obstacles and drained with even just waking up.
My education background is everywhere. I've always struggled with that due to the fact that I get bored pretty quick! Plus I want to be so much In life. I currently work at Jiffylube and am training to be everything. I truly love working on cars, but I have a love for painting, and music. A lot of things I'm good at.
I hope this journey with PBJWilderness4Life helps me just as much as it'll help others.
I have studied Nursing for years, hitting many road blocks, but never stopping. Today I am 3 quarters from getting my R.N. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have right now to work at Fairfax Behavioral Health Hospital. I do not know where the road will lead, but I am excited to see where it goes.
Being a part of the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation is an honor and a dream come true. With the amazing web of people Parker weaved, we all have a piece to contribute to his cause. I am grateful for each of these people, and all those involved in carrying on Parkers legacy to love and heal others.
I am honored to bring whatever I have to offer to the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation, because I know helping others was simply a huge part of Parker’s heart and he would do the same. Through personal experience with depression and addiction, I feel that I can communicate with other struggling youth and hopefully bring them ease and comfort during their difficult times and help them through
Parker is/was the most beautiful kind hearted person I've ever met. He deserves to be remembered and known for the person he was.
I also want to serve for Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation because I want to help prevent what could be the biggest decision anyone could make by commiting suicide. Life is so vaulable and everyone deserves to life a long happy life.
I went to Fir Grove Elementary, Highland Park Middle School, and Beaverton High School in Oregon. It was in middle and high school where I spent uncountable hours--beautiful hours--with Parker. I'm not even counting extracurricular activities that included football since 5th grade. I also went to a Prep school in North Bridgton, Maine where I played football and attended a "post graduate" year of school.
I played football, baseball basketball and soccer growing up. You can say I'm a sports lover. I enjoy going to movies and hanging with friends as well as taking care of animals. I once wanted to be a chef or a vet. But I am now enrolled into becoming a Carpenter for the Union.
I want to be apart of Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation because I feel like every single person in this world needs to realize that there is so much more to life than what you may be going through at the moment.
During college, I worked with mentally disabled adults ranging from high to low functioning for about 4 years. I am currently applying to enter the military and future plans are set on a career in Law Enforcement. I graduated from Southridge High School in 2009, where I played multiple sports. I played football with Parker. We met in middle school and we became life long friends. I am 26 years old. I have a strong desire toward service to others.
Enrolling our son into wilderness therapy was not only a big decision it was an expensive one. My husband Bob and I were recommended by our family therapist to reach out to the Parker Bounds Johnson Foundation aka PBJ Wilderness4Life because they offer grants to help cover wilderness therapy cost to the folks who live in Oregon and Washington. We are forever grateful to PBJ Wilderness4Life for their kind generosity! Their generosity doesn’t stop at granting scholarships. PBJ Wilderness4Life also has a group of young volunteers that help lead a tribe of wilderness alumni called Wild Hearts. Wild Hearts meet-ups welcome a wonderful opportunity for the youth and young adults who have attended outdoor wilderness therapy programs to connect and build healthy friendships with peers who understand them. In addition to building friendships these young people also get to connect with nature during monthly excursions that offer hiking, back packing, camping and so much more as well as local weekly meet-ups.
I believe in giving back and I also believe that the youth of today needs strong healthy connections more than ever! That’s why I am happy to volunteer my time to building a community of people who want more out of life, who desire real conversations, deeper connections as well as provide a space of ease and play. That’s what Wild Hearts is all about! It doesn’t stop with our kids. Parents, we need each other, too. PBJ Wild Hearts offers parent meetups--a time for parents to connect and support each other. We call the parent group Families of PBJ Wild Hearts (because siblings are welcome, too). It can be a lonely place for a parent when their child is suffering, we can often feel lost and even hold a lot of shame and guilt. PBJ Wild Hearts for our teens and young adults as well as for parent meetups are sprouting up throughout the states of Washington and Oregon. We welcome you with open arms! If you don’t have a PBJ Wild Hearts Tribe near you and want to start one in your town, please feel free to reach out to me.
In addition to volunteering and being my kid’s mom, I am a proud wife to my husband and partner in crime, Bob Burnett (who also volunteers as a Volunteer Leader of Families of PBJ Wild Hearts and is the Dad’s Tribe Leader). As well, I am a positive body image health and fitness coach for women. I love being outdoors and connecting with nature. Living in Bend, Oregon provides countless opportunities for outdoor adventures in which I thrive.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth, find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” -Rachel Carson
Alex ended up spending 11 weeks at wilderness in Colorado and put in the emotional and physical work to face his “dragons” and identify effective coping skills. The immersive nature of wilderness and the peer interaction in an “emotionally safe” space did wonders for Alex. He is more engaging and open than he has ever been before and he is sticking to his daily routine of journaling, meditating and getting in physical movement; all things that were instilled during his time in wilderness.
Once Alex was enrolled, we began scouring every avenue seeking grants or scholarships to assist in paying for wilderness, and this is how we came to meet Liz at PBJ Wilderness4life! I remember listening to my wife speak with Liz for over an hour on their very first call, and the feeling of no longer being alone in this journey, we had found an advocate and a person who had been in our shoes before. In addition to grants, PBJ also provides events and resources for wilderness alumni and their families so that they can get together with other people who have shared experiences. The program for wilderness alumni is called Wild Hearts; the intent is to get the kids outdoors and socializing with each other and to not lose that wilderness vibe that was discovered while in the back country. When we learned about PBJ, we realized we had found an outlet for Jennifer and I to get involved and help other families and kids who have participated in wilderness therapy. Before Alex had come home, we had already decided we would help spread the PBJ word in Bend, OR. We agreed to coordinate a local Wild Hearts tribe in Bend to compliment the existing group in Portland. Additionally, Jenn is coordinating a Mom’s group and I am doing so for the Dads. This is exactly what we have wanted for Alex for so many years, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to be involved.
I can’t say that I have always been a died in the wool outdoorsman, but I was in scouts and have camped all my life; additionally, I have volunteered for every activity both of my boys have participated in: soccer, lacrosse, scouts, youth groups, VBS, etc. Since moving to Bend, I have definitely taken advantage of the outdoor opportunities surrounding us and wholeheartedly believe in the therapeutic affects of nature. I am looking forward to meeting other parents and getting a regularly recurring Dad’s group together to chat about life, lessons learned, best practices and simply to provide an attentive ear. I am always up for a hike or to throw a frisbee, and look forward to growing the Wild Hearts group in Bend.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius. A maxim that is useful in 100% of situations and also describes the wilderness experience quite well.
Throughout my time in college, and after graduating in 2015 I have found myself working in education, in roles that allow me to empower students to advocate for themselves and develop leadership skills to advocate for others as well. I have worked with high school students as a College Access Coach through an AmeriCorps term of service. I have also worked with college students as a Resident Director and a conduct officer. In these roles I was able to work with a diverse range of youth and young adults, helping them build skills in critical thinking, decision making, accountability/integrity, and community egagement.
Currently I work with a college access non-profit, College Possible, as a High School Program Coordinator. This organization utilizes AmeriCorps service members to coach high school and college students - through a near-peer mentoring model - on their journey to and through college. Higher education was an irreplaceable piece of my journey towards becoming who I am today, and who I strive to be. Working with an organization that empowers students to start and complete their higher education goals is a truly humbling experience.
In addition to my work, I am excited to branch out, and work with the PBJ Foundation, which serves youth in a way that has touched my own life. I am looking forward to utilizing my lived experience in the wilderness and my love of the outdoors to show kids, their families, and the community the healing and strength that a connection with nature can bring. The lifelong impact that the experience of wilderness can have and the positive change that can make for themselves and others is unique, and I am excited to create space for them to share that!
Steve Tech Minion
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