Meet The Team: Jack Hilbrich, Adjunct Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist

Jack Hilbrich is a huge part of our outdoor education department, responsible for stewarding our wilderness curriculum, as well as instructing and supervising on our new student wilderness course each trimester. A semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) launched his career as a course director, taking Jack to the deserts of the American Southwest, the Northwoods of Canada and other wildernesses areas. We caught up with Jack — who previously served as our 2014-15 Public Allies Fellow in Outdoor Education — in between paddling, biking and ice hockey to ask him about another favorite interest: Eagle Rock School.

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Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock? 

Jack Hilbrich: Prior to coming to Eagle Rock I worked as a Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staff and Instructors Share Their Vacation Plans

We checked in with a number of Eagle Rock staff members and faculty to find out what they are up to during the trimester break that started last week and ends in early-September — and some of their activities are more exciting than you might think.

These dedicated faculty and administrators are taking to the summer heat by attending bicycling competitions at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet; canoeing in the Yukon Territory; attending music festivals with an endless string of bands; and even spending time on a volcanic island.

"Concepcion from finca" by David Ansley - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Concepcion_from_finca.JPG#/media/File:Concepcion_from_finca.JPG

“Concepcion from finca” by David Ansley – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.

Below, in no particular order, is an offering of “What I’m Doing on My Summer (Trimester) Break,” summed up by 10 Eagle Rock staff and faculty members:

Brighid Scanlon, our instructional specialist in world languages, is in Nicaragua to spend some time on Isla de Ometepe, a volcanic island (see image above). She plans to do lots of yoga and hiking while staying in an international community on the island.

Jesse Beightol, our instructional specialist in outdoor education is spending his break canoeing the Snake River in the Yukon Territory. He and Jack Hilbrich, a 2014-15 Public Allies Fellow in Outdoor Education who returns to us as a contract instructor this fall, are driving to Whitehorse and then flying to the river. They are spending about 18 days whitewater canoeing. This article from The New York Times (Far, Maybe Too Far, Into the Yukon) covers where they are and what they’re doing.

Dan Condon, associate director of professional development, is heading off to Aspen to watch Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge. He says it’s like a United States version of the Tour De France — only much steeper.

Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, our instructional specialist in music said her plans include Continue reading…

An Outdoor Education Fellow’s Perspective of The Eagle Rock School Wilderness Orientation Course

Since Eagle Rock’s inception, a new student wilderness orientation course has been an unconventional tradition that sets ours apart from other learning habitats. As an Outdoor Education Fellow, I continue to be blown away by how Eagle Rock engrains — and then celebrates — the wilderness experience as a right of passage for new students.

The moments they first step foot on campus, new Eagle Rock School students find themselves surrounded by veteran students and the first topic of conversation is inevitably, the wilderness course. These more experienced students talk about how much they enjoyed it or hated it. They offer the newbies tips and tricks on staying clean, or the best way to snag some extra toilet paper.

And soon, these fresh new faces hear about circles — a restorative process that is used frequently while in wilderness. Like the name suggests, students and instructors form a circle in order to create an emotionally safe space for discussions. Interestingly enough, there has been an evolution in how students reminisce about their experience with circles.

It was often described as a negative experience, but over time, something has changed. The concept of circles, and the perspective of them, has changed. I’ll explain why I think this change has occurred in just a moment.

I often tell students near the end of the 24-day wilderness expedition, that one of the many reasons we go out into the backcountry for two dozen days is because there’s really no place to hide. Wilderness forces us all to step up to the plate, to embody our strengths consistently, and it exposes areas with which we are struggling.

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Sometimes, it exposes problem areas we didn’t even know we had. But the one thing 24 days gives us is time. We have time to stop, time to contemplate, time to discuss what’s going on. And time to figure out how we can move forward in order to curtail, contain or take the power out of a conflict that might impede the functionality of the group — our community.

Of course, conflict is unavoidable. We like to think it is a healthy approach to developing a positive group culture that correctly, and appropriately reflects the vast values and perspectives of its community. An introductory way that we do this is with affective statements and questions. These tools are incorporated into circles and the progression of questions the facilitator uses. One-on-one coaching is an essential tool of the wilderness instructor. Students often need support in how they bring up issues or frustrations with affective statements.

For instance Continue reading…

Updates On Our Public Allies Fellows 2015 Team Service Projects

Like all organizations our size and scope, we rely on many different types of professionals to help carry out our mission. Instructional specialists deliver the curriculum, while administrative leaders, support staff and those working in any number of operational positions handle everything from facilities and human resources, to admissions and strategic planning.

And since we’re also a professional development organization, we have staff dedicated to working with educators from around the country who wish to study how to re-engage, retain and graduate students. All told, there are 40 full- and part-time employees working here, plus an additional 12 Public Allies Fellows.

Those Public Allies’ serve in full-time apprenticeship positions at nonprofit organizations across the United States — including Eagle Rock — where they create, improve and expand upon services that address youth development, education, public health, economic development and the environment.

In addition to participating in academic and community building activities, Fellows also contribute to Team Service Projects, with several such projects coming to a close this August. What we offer below are updates on five such projects conducted by our own Public Allies Fellows:

Project Title: Courageous Conversations
Run by: Matt Liston, World Language Fellow

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The goal of Matt’s project was to build a stronger Eagle Rock community through conversation and listening. He conducted a number of interviews with Eagle Rock community members, asking them questions about their experiences with race and their awareness of race. The interviews were recorded, and Matt led two different community gatherings in which he presented the edited videos, followed by small group discussions in response.

He is currently organizing his resources and the steps he took to share these Courageous Conversations, so that others can duplicate the project in the future — potentially with a variety of topics. During the last Fellows Learning Seminar (FLS), Matt organized a protocol to receive feedback from other fellows. He has also solicited the help and advice of full-time staff and leadership team members.

By Explore Week, Matt hopes to have a final resource document available, and a plan for a successor to take on this project in the future, making it an ongoing tradition at Eagle Rock.

Project Title: Spiritual Development
Run by: Courtney Lancaster, Service Learning Fellow and Molly Milota, Life After Eagle Rock Fellow

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The purpose of this project was to make spiritual development more accessible and central to the experiences of Eagle Rock students and staff. Courtney and Molly are creating a central location for all things spiritually developing via a Spiritual Development site on the intranet. They have also worked to map out existing Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellows Indulge In A Mid-Year Day Away

Editor’s Note: Kelsey Baun, our own Professional Development Center Fellow, joined other Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows at a recent ‘Day Away’ experience to celebrate reaching the halfway mark in their yearlong time with us here at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. Think of it as a “senior ditch day” for these 10 Fellows, only without the pinch and giggle that normally accompanies most 12th-grader ditch day events. Here then is Kelsey’s report.

By Kelsey Baun

Our most recent Mid-Year Fellow Day Away was held at the Estes Park Resort, highlighted by early morning inspiration provided by bucolic views of Lake Estes. A total of 10 Public Allies Fellows from here at Eagle Rock gathered to reflect during a day dedicated to exploring strengths, values and risks.

Our day began with the Fellows and Eagle Rock’s own Professional Development team members breaking bread — more like bagels — and partaking in an activity that shed light on individual perspective and success through the use of a dowel rod.

We then revisited our theme for the year of Refocusing Using Strengths and referenced to the use of Gallup’s Strengths Finder to focus each Fellow on what is it that they bring to the Eagle Rock community table.

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In order for the Fellows to see their assets in a different light, the Professional Development team facilitated for us an activity centered on values. It entailed asking each Fellow to rank a list of values and identify the top five values they might integrate into their own daily lives. Everyone then processed how values pertain to the Team Service Projects (TSPs) on which our Fellows will be working for the remainder of their time at Eagle Rock.

When this exercise was completed, we all split up into teams to further explore the subject matter:

  • Allison McManis (Societies and Culture Fellow) and myself (Kelsey Baun) will be creating a new high-touch recruitment philosophy to increase the diversity of Eagle Rock’s own Public Allies Fellowship application pool.
  • Life After Eagle Rock Fellow, Molly Milota, and Service Learning Fellow, Courtney Lancaster, will be Continue reading…