Outdoor Leaders Who Inspire Us: the Service Board
We recently talked with a few groups we admire, including Shona Kerrick from the Service Board, to learn more about how they are building better futures for their communities.
At WTA, we are constantly inspired by the organizations doing powerful work to create a brighter and more inclusive future for the outdoor community. We recently talked with a few groups we admire, including Shona Kerrick from the Service Board, to learn more about how they are building better futures for their communities.
Can you tell us about tSB’s mission?
As a youth-led organization, the Service Board’s (tSB) mission is to build community around the power of youth. Our vision is for all youth to advocate for a more-just future and our motto is push your growing edge! Our focus on snowboarding and outdoor adventure teaches tenacity and determination in the face of challenges. Our motto encourages young people to push the horizons of their abilities and boundaries.
How was tSB started?
In 1994, a young Seattle snowboarder lost his life due to a drug-related murder. Community members saw his death as a call to action and worked to create a space for young people to build resilience and community. A year later, thanks to the leadership of our founders Thomas Goldstein, John Logic and Thomas Caldwell III, tSB opened its doors to Seattle high school students to provide a space where they could be heard and valued and could explore the meaning of community through snowboarding, mentorship, social-justice education and public service. Since then, we have continued to adapt to the needs of our community while maintaining our values as a youth-led organization. Our curriculum has evolved to examine the roots of oppression and find pathways to systemic change.
Why is this work so important?
Our year-round programming uses equitable access to traditionally inaccessible outdoor activities as a route to social change. Through sports such as snowboarding, we are committed to increasing diversity in the outdoors and building confidence in youth. In combination with community service projects, adult mentoring and social- and environmental-justice education, tSB creates courageous communities of young change-makers, athletes and future environmentalists.
What should people know about your work?
As a youth-led organization, the Service Board builds community around the power of youth. For the last 25 years, tSB has developed and implemented culturally relevant programming for high school-aged youth from communities that have been marginalized (BIPOC, LGBTQAI+, low income, immigrants, refugees, houseless youth and those in foster care). tSB provides youth an inclusive space where they can challenge themselves, find their voices and foster a more equitable future.
How do you uplift the communities you serve?
Youth from marginalized communities have been especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic and are more likely to continue to struggle due to it for the foreseeable future. They will also disproportionately bear the brunt of the most visible effects of climate change and environmental degradation. They also face significant financial barriers to outdoor activities. Our core program is guided by trauma-informed practices and youth leadership to specifically address these barriers.
How does tSB serve as a leader?
After their first year, our youth can return as Peer Leaders (PLs) and receive training in public speaking, group facilitation and conflict management. PLs participate in our hiring and visioning processes and attend board meetings, as well as help create curriculum. Our staff and direct service volunteers (mentors and snowboard instructors) are representative of the communities we serve, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and low-income people. Many of our volunteers and leaders have participated in tSB programming. One of our staff members was a tSB youth participant back in 2005 and is now serving in an executive leadership role on our staff after 16 years with the organization!
Are there any projects you’re really excited about right now?
tSB recently received a multiyear grant from the Port of Seattle, which has allowed us to build out a 3-year stewardship program with the City of Tukwila (Green Tukwila). tSB will be continually contributing to the maintenance and preservation of the Duwamish Hill Preserve. This site is not only of historical and cultural significance to the Duwamish Tribe, but also has a rich volunteer and youth-leadership history! Back in 2002, a group of theater students from Foster High School (a school that tSB serves) wrote and performed a play about this hill and donated over $1,200 to the cause. We are proud to continue local stewardship efforts at this important landmark.
Learn more about tSB at theserviceboard.org.