by Vicki Heisser |
On meeting outdoor leadership instructor Sarah Carter, and learning about her outdoor experiences, one might assume she grew up with an “outdoorsy” lifestyle, but as she tells it, “I was raised in urban Anchorage. The Chugach Mountains were the backdrop for my childhood, but the reality was that I had a handful of outings that gave me glimpses into the power of nature. I can remember one duck hunting trip with my dad, a few salmon runs to the Kenai, and two hikes that tantalized my senses and piqued my sense of adventure.”
“As a young girl, I felt an affinity, a connection, a peaceful centering with each experience in the outdoors. Once exposed to cross-country skiing and running, I recognized these activities make me happy. I had a fourth-grade teacher who was influential in providing a scholarship for the junior nordic program in Anchorage.
Sarah’s experience in the junior nordic program really “stuck with” her. In her young adult years, she found herself coaching for the program. After that, she started ski patrolling and joined a backcountry rescue team. It was during her time with the rescue team that she found an interest in snow science. She shared, “One thing led to another with avalanche professional development, and I began forecasting and working on snow safety teams, heli-ski operations, rescue teams, and subsequently the Valdez Avalanche Center.”
Carter’s interest in the outdoors led her to pursue ways to make being outside a livelihood. She became a wilderness EMT and an outdoor guide. After years of guiding, Sarah found herself in a classroom sharing what skills she had learned along the way.
Today, as an instructor, she helps her students find their unique and individual futures as outdoor leaders. Dedicated to this next generation, Carter says, “I lean heavily on the mentors of my youth to help pass on life’s lessons. Everybody has a different story, their upbringing, their environment...it is all what's kicking around in our heads. That is what determines how we react to the content we’re learning and how we absorb it, ultimately how we put it into action.”