| Andrew Miller

Alumni Spotlight: Astrea Strawn

We always love to hear about the ways Cottonwood Institute students bring their CI experiences with them into the world. CAP New Vista Alumna Astrea Strawn has made the outdoors a major part of her life, working as an outdoor educator and now pursuing a masters in marine sciences at Oregon State University.

Alumni Spotlight: Astrea Strawn


What are you up to these days?
I am finishing up a masters degree in Marine Resource Management at Oregon State University. My research focuses on resilience in paired human natural systems, particularly Oregon fishing communities during a time of major changes in policy and climate.

What CI programs did you take?
In 2006 I was a student at New Vista High school and was lucky enough to take a Community Adventure Program (CAP) course with Ford Church.

What do you remember most about your CI experience?
I really loved the opportunity to blend outdoor adventure literacy with hands-on community involvement. That course was so different, and so much more engaging than any other class I took in high school, in the best way!

What were the coolest skills you learned from CI that you have showed your friends and family?
I remember feeling especially proud of finally creating a smoldering fire after working with a hand drill for a looooong time. Also, I still gloat about my quinzee building skills.

Looking back now, how has your CI experience impacted you long-term?
In the years after high school I worked as an environmental educator, a backpacking guide and an adventure guide on both the East and West Coasts. While working in these roles I often found myself reflecting on my CAP class at New Vista. This helped me relate better to how my clients and students were feeling in new, sometimes uncomfortable situations outdoors.

How has your CI experience helped you create positive change in your community?
Although I may not have been aware of the learning philosophies behind the CAP class structure as a student, I now realize the importance of teaching students to connect with their environments (natural and human). Both CAP and my undergraduate environmental education courses at Prescott College taught me the importance of fostering a sense of place in the outdoors. I was able to pay this forward when I taught K-12 environmental education courses as an 11 month Americorps volunteer in Southern Oregon.

Based on your CI experience what advice would you give to other students?
Always pack a warm sleeping bag and more than enough snacks.
Building a strong connection to the outdoors will serve you for the rest of your life.

Written by Astrea Strawn, CI Alumna

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