VYCC Helps Prepare Young Professionals for Careers in Wilderness Therapy

July 17, 2017 | 

Sheila is working on the back-back roads of Vermont, reducing erosion towards a healthier Lake Champlain. Amidst intermittent spurts of rain, she and her crewmates pull stones from the forest floor to control the flow of water that is filling the ruts and pouring over the surface of a Class IV road in Middlesex. This project is among 35 weeks of work funded by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to reduce the amount of phosphorous entering the Lake Champlain watershed.

“My family spends our summers camping across Vermont,” Sheila explains, “and I wanted to spend my summer working to improve the lands that I grew up on.” It’s a far cry from the work she will do in DC next year as her social work practicum at Catholic University. Yet, a job with VYCC directly aligns with her career goals. Sheila, pictired far left, has her sights on outdoor wilderness therapy.

She’s not alone in this work.

Alumna AmyRose Tomlinson knows a thing or two about the connection wilderness therapy has to outdoor trail work. AmyRose, who  led VYCC crews in 2015 and 2016, moved back to her home state of Missouri to pursue a career combining outdoor work and wilderness therapy. She writes, “I discovered the concept of Wilderness Therapy through hearing about True North, a wilderness therapy program in Vermont. From there, I continued to research career opportunities in that field. When I finally found what I was looking for and secured a job in Missouri, I was now well prepared for such a task having successfully completed my first outdoor season on trail crew. Those I met at VYCC were truly the grittiest, most hard working bunch of humans I had ever met or worked alongside. I took what I learned through my VYCC crews straight to Missouri and was entirely thankful for the experience Vermont had given me.”

Credit: AmyRose Tomlinson

AmyRose, pictured with her 2016 VYCC crew far right, took a job as a Summer Guide for an Adventure Therapy program at Meramec Adventure Learning Ranch. Still there, She currently works at a Transitional Living Group Home for teenage girls. She enjoys the group home setting, and has taken skills from VYCC with her: “We have made a habit of hiking every Sunday and when it’s cool out, we practice ‘one light’ (one match) fire building.”

What’s next for AmyRose? With her first book wOnderlust available on Amazon, she is dreaming big and taking the first steps towards starting a potential Missouri Youth Conservation Corps where she hopes to combine elements of trail work and outdoor therapy. As for Sheila, her season wraps up in a few short weeks and she will return to D.C. for her senior year. As a VYCC alumna, we know she is set up for success in her career pursuits of Outdoor Wilderness Therapy!