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 youth 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, sailing and leadership 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 passion for the outdoors.
Elevation Outdoors provides all the required equipment, so that all a participant needs to do is show up with a positive attitude and a willingness to try something new. Transportation is 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 and confidence while in our programs.
Since our first program in 2008 we have been able to help hundreds of youth 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 for 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 Manager
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 coordinating and managing 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 HansonFounder, Chair
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.
Corrine WilsonEvents and Sponsorship Coordinator
Corrine joined Elevation Outdoors in November 2021. With a background in wedding planning she has always wanted to work in events for a non-profit. Raised in Kelowna, Corrine earned a Computer Science diploma from Okanagan University College. She then spent the next several years moving around to Vancouver, Atlanta and San Francisco. In 2012 she returned to the Lower Mainland and eventually back to Kelowna in 2020.
Corrine works on Elevation’s many fundraising events and projects as well as donor and sponsor stewardship. She and her family spend winters skiing, and summers at the lake. Corrine is an avid runner and has completed several half marathons. She also loves to hike the many trails in the Okanagan with her dog Remy.
Luke ShieldsProgram Supervisor
Luke first began working with the organization as a volunteer in winter 2021/22, going on to become a Program Lead for the Everyone Rides Grades 4/5, Live to Ride, and Summer Camp programs throughout 2022. Originally from Toronto, Luke has been involved with Cycling and Snowsports since 2016, having taught at Blue Mountain, Whistler Blackcomb, and Big White. You may even recognize him as staff from a local bike shop here in Kelowna! Luke has alway had a strong connection to action sports. Having grown up riding bikes and doing stunts throughout the streets of Toronto, he found the mountains to be the perfect place to continue pushing his own progression professionally and personally. Since moving to BC in 2018, Luke has continued to expand upon his passions, exploring farther into the mountains every year whether on a mountain bike, a snowboard, or in a climbing harness.
Now taking on the role of Program Supervisor, he is excited to help the organization develop and maintain the positive influence it has in the community. Luke plans to utilize his skills to help develop our programs and staff so that they can continue to expose youth to the wonders of the outdoors. Luke will continue to share his passions through our core programs, including but not limited to the Leaders In Action, Live to Ride, and Learn to Shred programs.