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. With a background in outdoor recreation including being a PMBIA Level 2 Air instructor, CASI 1 and a former climbing instructor Mike has a real ability to not just share his passion with our participants, but to help our program staff improve the quality of our programs.
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 sits on the board of directors for two local rock climbing associations and hones his teaching as a mountain bike instructor in the summer time.
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. With almost 10 years of involvement with Elevation Outdoors Mike has been a driving force in the growth of the organization, and has a clear vision of what the next ten years can look like for Elevation.
Jess BodrugProgram and Volunteer Coordinator
Jess has been with Elevation since August 2018 and came into the organization from a psychology and youth outreach background and desire to help improve youth mental health through outdoor activities. In her first year with the organization, Jess found a new hobby in snowboarding and enjoyed building connections with youth in a new way. She learned to snowboard alongside the youth, and just like the program participants, Jess was able to experience the joy of gaining confidence in a new sport. Jess started out as a part-time Program Lead and Coordinator and, over time, has since also taken on volunteer and staff coordination/training, Everyone Rides Grades 4/5 coordination, and other operational tasks in a full-time position. She also still enjoys getting out on program to build relationships with awesome youth!
During her time with Elevation, Jess has worked to improve organizational systems, streamline the registration process, facilitate and refine programs, and coordinate staff and volunteers. Jess has enjoyed being a part of connecting with and building the wonderful Elevation community of youth, parents, referral partners, sponsors, donors, staff, and volunteers! Her favourite part of working for Elevation Outdoors is being part of a small, yet continually growing, organization, which has allowed her to be a valuable contributor to refining and improving the organization over the years. She feels a sense of great pride and connection to the organization and has build some priceless relationships within it. Jess continues to engage with youth in meaningful ways, improve programs and administrative processes that help Elevation increase its sustainability and ability to support those most in need, and connect with community partners to spread the word of all that Elevation has to offer!
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.
Leanne ShafirProgram Manager
Leanne joined the Elevation Outdoors team in September, 2020 as the Program Lead. Leanne loves to explore: originally from Toronto, Leanne lived in France and Ecuador before wandering over to Kelowna to pursue a master's degree in Social Work. Leanne has worked in the field of Social Work for a decade, specializing in violence prevention, program development , restorative justice and nature based therapy with youth and families. She also loves to rock climb, hike, kayak, snowboard and all things music! She strives to incorporate these passions into her work where she can.
During her master's degree, Leanne continued to lead Elevation programs, created program curricula, and developed new programs and partnerships. Upon graduating in 2022, she was offered the first Program Manager role at Elevation Outdoors and is thrilled to be continuing her work at Elevation. Working closely with Mike, Jess and Corinne, Leanne is ready to explore new possibilities and opportunities for Elevation Outdoors! She strives to develop structure and sustainability for the core programs at Elevation Outdoors while supporting the program leaders and volunteers who make our current programs possible. Leanne believes in the healing power of nature and activity and wants to share this with her community. She sees in her work and life how access to sport and nature translates into positive long term effects on mental, physical and spiritual health for the youth in our programs but also in their families, communities and beyond. Because of this, she is committed to furthering Elevation Outdoor's mission of providing access to nature and activity to all youth in the Kelowna community. Leanne hopes to see you either in our programs, at an event or out in the community! Don't be afraid to say hi and chat with her about anything outdoorsy, musicy or how you can get involved with Elevation Outdoors!