Click thumbnail to meet each Ambassador and learn about their adventure fundraiser.
“I know how transformative it can be when you try something new. When it feels right and you know you found something you were made for. I’ve felt this way a handful of times: hiking the Appalachian Trail, training for a marathon, and getting lost in scribbling words on the page. It just takes one opportunity to spark passion, and I hope that sharing my journey inspires other women to go out and accomplish whatever goals they have.”
“As the adventure and outdoor culture shifts to reflect the reality of who actually plays/works/recreates/enjoys the outdoors, I’m excited to be one of the many faces. I have worked on backcountry trail crews and as an outdoor educator for the last two decades. At this point in my career - and my life - I feel driven to demonstrate that people of all identities spend time in the out of doors world.”
“I work in adventure education where I facilitate climbing, backpacking, whitewater rafting and mountaineering experiences for young people and adults. I do it because I believe that when we allow ourselves to be truly be in wild places, we uncover parts of ourselves that lay dormant. We face our fears, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we see what we are capable of and as women this is the stuff we for so long been told not to see. I witness this in myself and I witness it in others. I am inspired by our human potential!”
“I share the vision and mission of the Cairn Project; it is through my platform as an athlete and educator that I strive to empower women and girls to believe they are limitless and to inspire a life of adventure, challenge, and growth.”
“My dad made sure to introduce me to badass women of the northeast and growing up he put me in women's ice climbing clinics while he guided, which meant I had a phenomenal group of women to look up to who guided ice, owned climbing gyms, instructed and guided. It was because of these women I was able to feel comfortable, fearless and vulnerable while exploring my limits in the outdoors, but I still had moments of feeling like I didn't belong. Every gal should feel like they belong in the outdoors.”
“Spending time outdoors has led me to be more secure in my understanding of self and push the boundaries of my own perceived limitations. I am a fierce believer in women-supporting-women. We must champion and learn from the brave women in our lives so that we may all feel more brave, confident, and beautiful inside and out.”
“Going on a long adventure is undeniably exciting. But there is also an undeniable thrill in pursuing and planning that adventure -- in the time spent looking at maps, writing lists, and making gear selections. It is that joy, the joy I get in dreaming about what can be, what hopefully will be, that I hope to pass along to girls and young women as an Ambassador for The Cairn Project. I have put my adventuring on hold for the past couple years, prioritizing my family and my young daughter. However, I want to show myself, and her, that I can be a good mom and still go adventuring.”
“My hands-on work in environmental conservation has been a huge motivator for taking a deeper plunge into enjoying outdoor recreation. This work has made me feel more connected to the landscapes I recreate in and has given me a sense of purpose in being a steward to protect these landscapes. My biggest hope going forward is that young women (and everyone!) who are able to experience the enjoyment of outdoor recreation, will also feel the love and passion for protecting these places where we spend our time.”
“It is so important to help amplify the voices of women who haven't always been visible in outdoor spaces, to ensure that they are welcome and safe, and to use our privileges and skills to share the wonder of being outside. I wish I had learned when I was much younger just how strong I could be - but anytime is better than never, and I would like to be a part of an effort to open that opportunity for other women.”
“I am excited to support other young women in having experiences in nature that both empower them, and lead them to become better stewards of the wild. I believe that direct experiences in nature are the best way to help people experience why these places need protecting.”
“The lessons I’ve learned from being in the outdoors, especially on my own, have been life changing. If I can pass that on to just one other person, I’d be happy. But to pass it on to the masses, I’d be ecstatic. The first step is the most difficult - once you realize what you’re capable of, the options are endless.”
“I see how our world is rapidly changing, especially with technology, and there is nothing more important in my mind than encouraging our youth to understand, play, and to learn more about our natural world. To support other organizations that encourage young woman to get outside is invaluable to me.”
“The time I’ve spent on outdoor pursuits has given me more confidence than any other endeavor. The fear I’ve felt alone in the woods, or atop a steep snowy slope, or right below a bolt with sweaty fingers, has forced me to be vulnerable and brave. The solitude I’ve found in these places has healed me from the most difficult places my life has taken me. Because the outdoors has done so much for me, I feel strongly about the need to address some of the gender constructs and economic disparities that obstruct all girls from having the opportunity to have a relationship with the natural environment around them.”
“I am a strong believer in the power of the outdoors and that everyone should have the ability to access that. I’m inspired by female power on a daily basis, and believe that there is a lot we can learn from the rising generation of young women. In that, I think it is up to us to pass on what knowledge and adventure we can, just like the women before us. Let's continue to build our collective voices and to empower those women around us. When we do, amazing things happen!”
“I'm determined to help create an inclusive and equitable outdoors for all, and give back to a community which has given so much to me. I want to empower other women to explore their passions in the outdoors and help to elevate their voices and bring attention to their incredible stories.”
“My whole life, I've loved the outdoors and was called a tom boy. As I got older and went to university for outdoor recreation, I heard it called "a boys club". Now, I am part of an all female administrative team at a major outdoor company. I am so, so excited to be able to represent women outside. To show young girls that they aren't a tomboy, they're just tough. There's space for all of us out here.”
“Backpacking and biking and fishing are what make me feel most like myself. They have also brought me some of the greatest experiences and friendships of my life. I was fortunate to find a community that made me feel welcome in the outdoors and love to pass that gift on to others. I believe in the types of programs that The Cairn Project supports, and wish that they had been more common when I was a kid!”
“As a passionate outdoorswoman, I have experienced first-hand the extraordinary power of time spent experimenting, growing, and thinking in the outdoors. Seeing my own personal evolution through snowboarding, backpacking, mountaineering, and trying a wide variety of outdoor sports, I realized very quickly the essential role these kinds of activities had in shaping my self confidence, enhancing my intuition, and navigating my place in this world."
“Adventuring in nature is the therapist I didn’t know I needed. I’ve gained confidence, health, peace of mind, and awkward tan lines. I’m so excited and grateful to be helping young women get outdoors where they can build confidence that will last a lifetime. With that confidence comes more well rounded, genuinely grounded women, ready to take on (and save) the world.”
“As a part of the generation sometimes written off as disengaged and technology-centered, it’s important to me to change this perception and empower others in my life to engage with the outdoors in positive ways. It's critical to me that this work is intersectional and inclusive, that it recognizes the history of people on the land we traverse and honors the ecosystems which we call upon to find our voices and inner peace through.”View Fundraiser
Hailing from the prairie lands of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Liz Pham is an American-Vietnamese adventure woman, who enjoys climbing, hiking, and mountain biking. Liz was first introduced to climbing at a local gym after making the move to Minneapolis, MN five years ago. This was the catalyst to her adventures into outdoor climbing and beyond. For Liz, the outdoors and its supportive community has become a boundless source of inspiration for her approach to leadership in her personal life and in the workplace. It has taught her to manage her fears of the unknown. Importantly, it’s taught her courage and how to build trust in others and with herself. With a B.A. biology, art, and psychology from Augustana College, Liz has spent her career helping organizations create agile processes and products that focus on people first. She currently works as an IT Manager for a software services company. Previously, Liz owned and operated an urban agriculture business growing and distributing bean sprouts in South Dakota. When she’s not busy with work, you’ll either find her reading a book, mentoring young women in technology, or enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.
"I've always known I wanted to help others, but never knew exactly how. What I do know is that I enjoy mentoring and learning from others. When rock climbing came into my life, it became a space for me to connect with others, especially women. I want to empower women through rock climbing and the outdoors."
Born and raised in Minnesota, Janet Dalton grew up playing outside, swimming in lakes, camping on an island and walking through the woods in all kinds of weather. A professional chef with thirty-five years under her belt in the restaurant business, Janet loves to wield her knife and culinary skills in the wilderness – she takes gourmet dehydrated meals to the next level. Having embarked on mountain adventures around the world, Janet’s superpower is being OK being uncomfortable, and she is the most herself outside.
“The Cairn Project exemplifies all of the qualities I value, and I am thrilled to support an organization that helps offer young women the same chance I’ve had to find happiness through outdoor adventure. Challenge builds strength!”
Some of Collette’s earliest memories are of waking up in a sleeping bag and exploring the dirt, trees, lakes, and streams of the Midwest on one of her family’s many camping trips. Collette has spent much her career working with land conservation groups, believing that the connection people have with our environment is of utmost importance for happiness. Currently, she is an Individual Giving Officer at the SF Symphony – she is also passionate about music and the arts – and spends time hiking as much of California as possible. Collette holds a B.A. in Biology from Smith College.
“The chance to reflect in the woods, spend a night on a mountain, or kayak a river are what bring me joy and limitless strength to see more beauty in the world than anger and fear. I support The Cairn Project’s mission to give more girls around the country the chance to connect with themselves and the world through nature.”
A lifelong student of nature, Laura Wildenborg grew up climbing the limestone of southeastern Minnesota, paddling the backwaters of the Mississippi, and refining the skill of building a one-match fire. Equipped with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from College of St. Benedict and well-honed expertise in outdoor education, Laura introduces students to the outdoors as a field instructor at the Red Wing Environmental Learning Center. As an Ambassador for The Cairn Project in 2018, Laura completed a 10-day canoeing trip on the Bloodvein River in Manitoba as an adventure fundraiser.
“The value of shared outdoor experiences can be measured in increased self-confidence, environmental appreciation, and lasting friendships. The Cairn Project extends that value by enabling more girls across the country to access outdoor programs.”
A Minnesota native, Olivia calls Minneapolis home, where she lives just four blocks from Lake of the Isles. Olivia works at West Monroe Partners, an employee-owned management consulting firm, where she advises companies in the consumer and industrial products industries. While her work travels have taken her on adventures all around the country, her passion for the outdoors was first sparked at a young age during family trips to the Rockies. Olivia is an avid skier, hiker, backpacker, and cyclist. If Olivia isn’t outside, you’ll find her baking or exploring breweries and coffee shops.
"My experiences in the outdoors have helped shaped my values and empowered me to become who I am today. I want all young girls to have the opportunity to experience what the outdoors has to offer for them."
Sarah Castle grew up in a small mountain town west of Denver, Colorado, and has spent most of her adult life a stone’s throw away from the Rocky Mountains. Though she held a fascination for wild places at a young age, it wasn’t until late high school that she became captivated by the high elevations and unbeaten paths of the mountains in her backyard. Merging her love for both exploration and grit, Sarah pursued a career in soil science, studying the effects of global change and land use on natural and managed ecosystems. Currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, you’re likely to find her either trail running or logging one of many 70mi. weekend bike rides. Sarah holds B.A. and M.S. degrees from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from the University of Montana.
Alison Wright was born and raised in San Francisco, California, but has been fortunate enough to call Colorado, Washington, Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Baja California Sur home. She cultivated a passion for outdoor pursuits at an early age, with some of her fondest memories from hiking and backpacking trips she took with her dad in more than 20 national parks. Alison has spent her career in the public interest sector, much of it in philanthropic grantmaking. She consults with organizations defending natural resource rights, protecting environmental activists, and amplifying community and indigenous voices for global environmental justice. A lifelong baseball fan, you’ll often find her sporting her SF Giants cap out on the trail. Alison holds a J.D. from Seattle University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.