Hello, Viristar community!
Though I am eager to get to know you, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Liz Lunderman and I am proudly Viristar’s new Operations & Outreach Manager.
We have all had our moment, or a series of moments, that brought us to love the outdoors. Naturally, our love for the sprawling mountains, vast canyons, lush hiking trails calls to us to share those spaces with others. My first outdoor moment also happened to be the defining event for my career and a life-long dedication to creating inclusive, accessible, safe, and pride-filled outdoor experiences for everyone regardless of their background.
Imagine the excitement of a 12-year-old who was invited to a sleepaway birthday party. That was me when a friend’s mom invited us to do a winter hike in the Adirondacks, New York. On the packing list were hiking boots. At the time I didn’t know what hiking boots were and packed tennis shoes thinking they were sturdy enough for the terrain. When the time came to leave for Mt. Phelps, my friend's mom looked at my feet and shook her head. It was November, snow and ice were already dusting the tops of the High Peaks; tennis shoes were not ideal for the trip.
Instead of having me sit in the hotel room all day, my friend’s mom fashioned trash bags on my feet, duct-taped them to my pants, and slipped my feet back into the tennis shoes. This creative setup kept my feet warm, allowing me, an impressionable young girl, to build my confidence and take up space in the outdoors.
Nearing the afternoon, I stood among iced-over spruces looking over the stunning blue and green high peaks. We had done it - we had summited. Standing on Mt. Phelps, flushed and tired, trash bags duct-taped to my legs, I felt a complete sense of pride.
I believe no one should be turned away from experiencing the outdoors due to a lack of education, equipment, or finances. This belief was ingrained into me that day in the Adirondacks, and has been at the center of what I have done since becoming an outdoor guide/EMT; starting a non-profit called Women in Wilderness, and teaching Secondary Biology in Peace Corps Tanzania. Most recently, my passion brought me to the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, where I worked as the Outdoor Adventure Specialist bridging the gap between high-adventure outdoor experiences and girls who did not feel like they could explore because of who they are.
Viristar is one of the leading organizations for delivering high-quality risk management, outdoor programming, business management, and remote wilderness medicine training to the outdoor industry. I am pleased to bring my passion, knowledge, and experience to Viristar’s community and look forward to getting to know your outdoor moment!