Elevation Outdoors was founded in 2007 by Tori Hanson and a small group of dedicated individuals that saw a need in our community. From our very first ever Learn to Shred program with 6 participants our focus has always been on breaking down barriers and helping young people find a passion to help them lead a healthy happier life. Since our inception, we have expanded our program offering to include snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing and sailing programs. All of our programs have full scholarship seats for any eligible youth or families to assist in providing them with an opportunity to develop a healthy passion.
Elevation Outdoors provides all the required equipment for the different programs so that all a participant needs to do is show up with a positive attitude and a willingness to try something new. Transportation is also included in our programs from a common meeting point, to ensure that each youth has an opportunity to participate. Each program is facilitated with the help of our team of volunteer mentors who are there to share their passion for the activity and to build a positive relationship with the participants. We strive to keep our ratios in our programs at 3:1 or lower so that our volunteer mentors and participants are able to have quality conversations and build a relationship while in our programs.
Since our first program in 2008 we have been able to help hundreds of young people find a new passion and develop more healthy lifestyles while learning skills that will stay with them for life.
All local youth, regardless of personal circumstances, have the opportunity to make healthy lifestyle choices and experience personal growth through participation in challenging outdoor pursuits.
With the support of community sponsors, donors and volunteers, Elevation Outdoors offers specially designed outdoor sports programs, personal mentorship and life skills coaching to vulnerable youth who face barriers to participation.
Founded in 2007, ELEVATION OUTDOORS is a community supported program designed to enhance the lives of local youth who face significant socioeconomic challenges. Through guided participation in strategically designed outdoor pursuits, young people are exposed to challenging physical activities while gaining fundamentally important life skills. The program is designed to mentor vulnerable youth and steer them out of harm’s way into a life of good health, productivity and fulfilment. All programs are offered to eligible youth free of charge, as Elevation Outdoors believes that no young person should be denied the potential to discover an outdoor pursuit that can help keep him or her motivated, healthy and happy in life!
OUR TEAM - Dedicated, adventurous people
Mike GreerExecutive Director
Mike started out with Elevation Outdoors in 2014 as a program volunteer with our Learn to Shred and Live to Ride programs. He took on the role as our first Executive Director in May of 2015 and has been a key contributor to our growth and successes since then. With a Business degree from St. Francis Xavier University he combines his education with a passion for the outdoors to drive the organization forward. Since joining our team he has earned his snowboard CASI Level 1, Professional Mountain Bike Instructor Level 1, and his AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification for rock climbing to better allow him to share his passions with our participants and improve our program delivery.
Mike was born in Ontario and has also spent time living in Florida and Nova Scotia, but always knew a move out West was inevitable. In 2007 he moved west to follow his passion for snowboarding and landed in Kelowna. It was here that he discovered a passion for rock climbing and mountain biking, which he is now able to pass on to the next generation each season through leading our programs. Moving a number of times as a young person helped shape who he is today, and instilled in him the knowledge that finding a passion is key to your happiness. In addition to his work at Elevation Outdoors Mike also spends his time coaching at local climbing gyms in the winter and is a mountain bike and outdoor climbing instructor in the summers.
When not working or volunteering with Elevation Outdoors, Mike spends his time in the backcountry on his split-board, mountain biking our local trails, and rock climbing all around the Valley. If the snow is deep in the middle of the week you just might find him having a “board meeting” at Big White, if so, share a chair with him and see if he hasn’t convinced you to help out by the time you reach the top.
Miranda BirkbeckVolunteer Coordinator
Miranda joined our team in 2016 after finding the organization online while trying to find a volunteer position in the community. Elevation Outdoors automatically resounded with Miranda, who lives to be outdoors and feels passionately that all youth should have equal opportunities and exposure to outdoor pursuits. Elevation just happened to be looking for a volunteer coordinator, which matched her recently acquired skills from receiving a bachelor of business at Okanagan College… this is a great thing as she is more of a skier than a boarder so this position allows her to share her passion in a different way.
In her first year, Miranda has worked to build her own organization knowledge, connect with volunteers, and develop a volunteer pool for programs. She plans to continue to build out volunteer standards to ensure Elevation Outdoors can continue to provide our community youth with outdoor opportunities. When not at her day job at First West Credit Union or sending out emails to organize Elevation volunteers, you can probably find Miranda outside. Her favourite place to be would be somewhere deep in the Rocky Mountain backcountry, but she’ll settle for a hike up Rose Valley in West Kelowna, a bike on the KVR, or even a run in Mission Park Greenway. Many Elevation volunteers may question if Miranda is just Mike’s email alter-ego but you may also catch her trying to “learn the ropes” during our Get-a-Grip program.
Tori spent the first 23 years of her life in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. She attended University of Victoria, finishing up with a BA in Leisure Service Administration. Tori had a keen interest in sport and outdoor recreation throughout her high school and undergraduate life. She enjoyed all the outdoor experiences that Victoria and surrounding area has to offer: mountain biking, hiking, trail running, paddling, and trips to the mountains to ski and snowboard in her free time. She was also a trail blazer for women’s rugby in the late 1990’s; playing on the first varsity ‘Vikes’ team at UVic, and the first women’s U23 Canadian national team.
Tori went on to work at various mountain snow resorts for the following 3 years, helping to organize outdoor events and ski and snowboard races.
Tori returned to university in Victoria, Australia where she earned a Masters in Experiential Learning and Development at Victoria University in Melbourne. She lived in Torquay, Australia and worked within the school system for outdoor education while studying.
Tori and two friends also started a program for homeless youth in Geelong Australia named by the youth involved “XTG town”, through the Barwon Youth accommodation services group. The program focussed on working with a small group of youth towards a goal of travelling internationally and taking part in outdoor pursuits while there. The project lasted 6 months, youth were empowered by raising their own funds to travel to an international location of their choice, which was New Zealand. The youth were mentored by volunteers and experienced new outdoor pursuits and living healthier lives while reaching their travel goal.
Tori and her Australian husband, Mat, returned to live in Canada in early 2007. After seeing the difference one can make in youth’s lives that really need it, such as the XTG town group, Tori set her sites on making a difference in Kelowna. She founded Elevation Outdoors in November of 2007 after seeing the need for outdoor experiences and healthy opportunity offered to Kelowna’s less fortunate. The first Elevation Outdoors program “Learn to Shred” took place in January of 2008 at Big White Ski Resort with 6 youth referred to the organization, and some very passionate committed volunteers!
Currently, Tori is the Chair of the Elevation Outdoors board of directors. She also works within the organization on fund development and fundraising, strategic planning, community relations, and linking Elevation Outdoors to post secondary opportunities for students in the Okanagan. Tori also volunteers within the Elevation programs wherever possible.