Harvesting Community

As the seasons change, our Utah course area remains sunny, inviting, and as always, magical. In this issue, an alumni student shares what it's really like to spend holidays in the field. We highlight the important role of our Family Care Coordinators, check in with our Clinical Team, and so much more. Happy Fall y'all!

What's it Like to Spend Holidays in the Field?

Laney C., Alumni Student - Team Firefly (Adolescent Girls)

Article Excerpt: For me, Thanksgiving had always been about family. I wondered how I was supposed to acknowledge that day without the presence of my loved ones. Ironically, this day became one of the most important and transformative days in my wilderness process. Open Sky staff had us look at Thanksgiving for what it’s truly supposed to be: a time to show gratitude and come together... 

We're With You: The Experienced and Compassionate Support of Family Care Coordinators

Article Excerpt: A Family Care Coordinator (FCC) is a family’s administrative point person at Open Sky throughout their entire journey in the program. They are a friendly and familiar voice on the other end of the phone if parents have questions, are seeking information, or are in need of support and connection. The support of the FCC begins with...

Making Meaning of Experience: Therapist Brian Leidal's Passion for Walking Alongside Young Adult Students

A Q&A with Young Adults Therapist Brian Leidal, MA, LPC

Interview Excerpt: The thing that has excited me most these last three years working [as a Family Services Therapist] with students on Family Quest, and now in working with young adults as a primary therapist, is witnessing the transformative moments that they’ve been working so hard to achieve. In these moments, they are being the truest, best version of themselves. I love when the student... 

Partnering with Nature to Promote Health and Wellness

A Q&A with Adolescent Girls Therapist Dr. Melia Snyder

Interview Excerpt: My clinical approach as a nature-based expressive arts therapist draws on the inner creative resources of my clients as well as the power of the wilderness as a guide, mirror, metaphor, and co-therapist. The natural world provides a model for the creative process and the wilderness provides a lens through which we can recognize our own wholeness. In contrast... 

Open Sky Represents at the IECA Conference in Atlanta

The Open Sky Admissions Team team enjoyed connecting with industry professionals at the IECA conference in Atlanta last week! This IECA conference is an opportunity for therapeutic programs and Educational Consultants to present and learn from each other as they continue to enhance services for adolescents, young adults, and families across the country.

Morgan Seymour’s 8 Health-Based Reasons to Spend More Time Outdoors Featured in OutThere Colorado

Adolescent Boys Therapist Morgan Seymour, LCSW recently wrote an article which was featured in OutThere Colorado. Her article, “8 health-focused reasons to spend more time outdoors,” incorporates research and her perspective as a wilderness therapist. Great tips! Check it out!

Staff Participate in Comprehensive Winter Skills Training

Open Sky field guides, field management, and field medics participated in a mandatory Wilderness Winter Skills Training to prepare for the coming winter season. 

During the winter, Open Sky implements specific practices and protocols that encompass all aspects of programming, including course area management, guide training, staffing, student education, gear, nutrition, and program. Click here to learn more about winter safety at Open Sky!

Open Sky Presents at NOLS Wilderness Risk Management Conference

Family Wellness Counselor Norman Elizondo, Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin, and Assistant Health Director Coulter Stone presented: “Mental and Behavioral Health Crisis Management in the Wilderness,” to a standing-room-only crowd.

"This is such a unique opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues and provide guidance to those working directly with clients in the outdoors," Mariah said.

Chris Blankenship Co-Presents on College Readiness at YATA

Transition Age (18-20) Young Adults Therapist Chris Blankenship and Educational Consultant Joanna Lilley co-presented at the Young Adult Transition Association Conference. Their informative YATA presentation was titled: "Improving College Readiness: The Need to Move Beyond GPA, SATs and the Boring College Application Essay".

Clinical Team Attends Training on Digital Media Overuse

Open Sky therapists recently attended a training on assessment, intervention, and treatment of digital media overuse and addiction.

Thank you to Tracy Markle and Dr. Brett Kennedy of Digital Media Treatment & Education Center for the rich and informative training! 

Emily Fernandes Featured on "Stories from the Field" Podcast

Open Sky Executive Director & Co-founder Emily Fernandes was recently featured on the podcast, “Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy”. In this episode, Emily speaks with podcast host Dr. Will White about her early years and her journey into the field of wilderness therapy. She shares stories from more than 1000 field days as a field guide and her experiences as a clinician, clinical director, and co-founder of Open Sky.

Reaching for the Stars in Denver

In September, Open Sky attended and supported Sky’s the Limit Fund’s 2nd Annual Reaching for the Stars Breakfast which was held at the renowned Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The sold out breakfast was attended by over 140 guests from the Greater Denver area, which included many Open Sky alumni. Funds raised exceeded expectations and will help families in need begin their healing journey through wilderness therapy!

Aaron Fernandes Presents at Local Economic Summit

Open Sky Founder & CEO Aaron Fernandes was honored to deliver the closing keynote presentation at the 2019 Economic Summit of the La Plata County Development Alliance on October 23. Aaron celebrated the Durango community, encouraging its leaders to “continue to support those with big ideas, moving forward in the right way.”

Denver Alumni Reunion Huge Success!

We had an incredible time reconnecting with and celebrating our alumni at the Denver Alumni Reunion in September! One attendee was a student in Open Sky's very first year of operation nearly 13 years ago! Each alumni student who attended had a beautiful story of growth, healing, recovery, and strength. For more information on alumni events, visit our website. 2020 dates will be added soon!

Field Staff Ashley Martin and Mike Higgs Tie the Knot!

Congratulations to the newlyweds, Senior Guide Ashley Martin and Field Medic Mike HIggs! They exchanged vows on September 28 atop Lookout Point at Mesa Verde National Park.

Welcome to the world, Saren Serna!

Salesforce Administrator Joshua Serna and his wife Tanya welcomed their baby girl into the world on September 17! Joshua describes Saren as a "happy, sunshiney, and curious Adventure Baby."