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CAP Alumni Spotlight: Galen O’Shea


Meet Galen! A Cottonwood Institute CAP Alumni who is living life to the fullest and always leaves time to explore the outdoors!  We caught up with him and asked a few questions about what he’s currently up to and the impact CAP has had on his life.

What are you up to these days?

“I work as a research biochemist in Chico (far northern) California, and spend as much time as possible mountain biking, backpacking, fishing, climbing, mountaineering, snowboarding, and sleeping outside whenever I can. My wife and I are very lucky to be able to play outside as much as we do and I believe we probably spent over 75 nights in a tent last year. Additionally, we are currently in the process of moving to Bozeman Montana so that I can attend a PhD program at Montana State University. A large factor for me when choosing which graduate programs I wanted to attend was the community in which the school exists coupled with access to outdoor recreational opportunities both of which make Bozeman an ideal place to live.”

What CI program(s) did you take?

“I was a part of one of the first cohorts of students to take the “Community Adventure Program” at New Vista High School, which was before the Cottonwood Institute was founded, and I was very pleased to see the growth and success of the program since I was involved.”

What do you remember most about your Cottonwood Institute (CI) experience?

“In retrospect, it was this program that first helped me to begin to understand how privileged I am to be able to have the resources and abilities to be able to participate in the outdoor activities that are such a crucial part of my life.I had spent a lot of time participating in outdoor activities before attending the CAP course, and it was a great learning experience as a self-involved high schooler to be shown that most people had not been given these chances that I had and to reflect on how lucky I had been.”

What were the coolest skills you learned from CI that you have showed your friends and family?

“I distinctly remember a project that allowed me to do an extensive presentation to my class on outdoor/ backcountry first aid and medicine. This experience fueled a passion for learning medical preparation for emergency situations which I maintain to this day as a certified NOLS Wilderness First Responder.”

How has your CI experience helped you create positive change in your community?

“Some of the topics that we learned about during my CAP course involved reinforcing the concepts of LNT (leave no trace) principles which I took to heart. I know it sounds hokey, but I literally do stop and pick up as much trash as I can when I am out on a trail. It’s a small effort, but it bothers me so much that people leave trash in beautiful places.”

Based on your CI experience, what advice would you give to other students?

“The most transformative experiences I have ever had have been out in nature,  just get out there and play! (just please don’t litter)

Written by Galen O’Shea and edited by CI Program Manager, Taryn Longberry.

Interested in getting reconnected in our Alumni and CI community?

  1. Join us on a CI Community Hike on Tuesday, July 10th!  Email us at taryn@cottonwoodinstitute.org for more info.
  2. Join our LinkedIn group at:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/cottonwood-institute/
  3. Join our Facebook CI Alumni group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/49045662698/


Categories: Alumni Spotlight, CI Shoutouts, Cottonwood Institute News, Featured, Testimonials

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