Dillon Key, 22

junior, outdoor adventure leadership
Katy, Texas


March 16, 2015


Dillon rock climbing


By Cassie Winter, University Relations and Communications


DillonHow did you get started rock climbing?

“I got started at a climbing gym; unfortunately the nearest climbing was 2.5 hours away in Austin. When I graduated high school, I moved to Austin to start work at a climbing gym. After that, I knew I wanted to do something in outdoor recreation and that’s when I started looking around for colleges.”

What do you want to do with your degree?

“Short term, I really want to travel and work in national parks. I just got my Search and Rescue certification through this degree program and next spring I will get my Wilderness First Responder. That will set me up perfect right out of school so I can apply for search and rescue or park ranger jobs. Long term, I want to do adventure therapy focusing on teenagers. I really like working with kids, so with adventure therapy I would be able to take kids out on trips who are underprivileged, who are at-risk or kids who have already gotten into trouble and are court-ordered to go on these kind of trips. Basically, working with kids who otherwise wouldn’t go outside and taking them outside to give them new experiences and new environments.”

Why do you think it is important for people to spend time outside?

“When you’re inside, on a computer or watching TV, you’re there, but you’re not really present. When you’re outside in environments that you’re not used to, being pushed outside your comfort zone, it forces a lot of internal reflection and you learn a lot about yourself. There are all these scenarios where you have to work with others. When you get people outside in groups, whether it’s backpacking, kayaking, or even a challenge course, they are forced to interact with others and to build those communication and confidence skills. It’s really cool what you can learn about yourself and other people from being outdoors.”

What can people learn from being outdoors?

“The more you’re involved in the outdoors, the more you will care about the outdoors. As a world right now, I think it’s very important to start caring about our environment. It’s so easy when you sit at home all day and you don’t get outside, to not care. But if you’re outside and you enjoy being outdoors and the fresh air, it’s easier to care about the environmental issues. It’s also just really healthy, getting outside and being in the sun. Whether it’s just sitting there or going for a walk, its so much better for you. I’m huge on health, I think it’s super important.”

What are some of the challenges you face in outdoor recreation?

“When you challenge and push yourself you are faced with these walls that seem really difficult. You may think, I don’t know if I can do this, whether it’s backpacking or climbing. You get to a point where you have to stop and ask, ‘realistically can I do this?’ Having the confidence to tell yourself, yes I can do this, and try even if you don’t succeed. You have to put yourself outside of what you are comfortable with. There are times in climbing where it can be scary, but being able to push through that, placing fear aside and putting forth 100 percent of your efforts.”

What are your hobbies outside of rock climbing?

“I spend most of my time climbing, working and going to school. I coach the youth climbing team called Steep Team and I love doing that. I travel and take the kids to competitions. This year we had one kid make it to nationals in Madison, Wis. I take a lot of time to plan practices, workouts, traveling and coaching. I also work at Good Earth Market, a health foods co-op located downtown.”

For more information on the Outdoor Adventure Leadership program in the College of Allied Health Professions’ Department of Health and Human Performance.