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Why We Keep Making Outside Magazine's Top 100 Jobs List

Posted by Noah Schmelzer, Field Instructor at Evoke Entrada on November 15, 2017

NoahWhen asked to offer my perspective on the company I work for, Evoke at Entrada, in relation to its recognition in Outside Magazine’s top 100 list, a very simple thing hit me: I noticed that I address the company as ‘we’. “Why we made Outside Magazine’s top 100 best job list?”. “I’d love to write a blog post about us.” That’s right, over the last three and a half years that I’ve been a Field Instructor I have felt included in the company as an integral part of its functioning. From our newest field staff to the Program Director, there is a feeling of inclusion and care. There are what I consider the basics of care for a company; an appropriate wage, support with health care, proper working conditions and support, etc. Evoke has gone beyond what I expected. The following, I believe, are some of the reasons that for the last three years we have made Outside Magazine’s top 100 list for best places to work.

Supporting, encouraging, and challenging individuals toward personal and professional growth. For those who are familiar with the concept of wilderness therapy and the work required of field staff it’s a given that any staff will experience growth. For all who don’t have this experience, let me break it down a bit. For an instructor or guide, or any of the various terms used to describe an individual in the field caring for the clients, a shift looks like 8 days in the wilderness, followed by 6 days off. These 8 days in the field are filled with challenges in the form of physical discomfort, emotional stress, trying to learn and perfect one’s job, and a plethora of unpredictable variables. That’s only considering oneself! Add a couple of other staff and a handful of adolescent or adult clients on top of that and you have a more complete picture of the situation. Everybody is experiencing similar challenges, tinted with their unique personal flair. Enter the staff mindset. In each scenario there is an opening to produce meaningful conversation and connection with each other. Through one’s perspective of an event, ranging from a tragic life experience to difficulty tying a knot (one might argue this could also be tragic), we can all hear the human experience, be there for and hear out that individual, and observe their emotions wander through the spectrum of possibility. In this way we are together and support each other. This is a common thing, and happens several times each day. It is one of the most important aspects, I believe, of what we do. Add to this the many “groups” that educate our clients on simple ways our minds function or trick us, build and relieve emotional stress, or simply paint pictures for how we could better communicate with one another. It can be a lot to take in. It’s both exciting and exhausting. This is something that has shifted my abilities in so many ways. Growth for me has come in the form of speaking and acting more assertively, increased patience and confidence, a thorough understanding of compassion, the ability to show care unconditionally, and so much more. I am not alone in this growth, for almost all who have worked in the field with me have expressed similarly experiencing a positive change.

So, where does Evoke come in? That process I described doesn’t just happen. It takes care and training to guide clients and staff through a shift in that way. Evoke is filled with people who care enough to talk about these situations and offer guidance for those with less experience. Care doesn’t always look like putting a bandage on a cut. It can also mean challenge. Leaning into discomfort is a common challenge given to our clients and staff alike. It may be uncomfortable to say the hard thing, yet it could ultimately be the greatest act of compassion and care. It could be the difference that saves a life. Dramatic? Maybe. And accurate. This dynamic for a field staff over the long term can be tiring. Again, enter Evoke.

When needed, a field staff can take time away from the field (even beyond the normal paid time off), have a number of free therapy sessions, and meet with any of the management to talk. There is support wherever you turn. This extends to the idea of giving feedback, or wanting to see a change in the company or individuals. When I see something that could be improved I offer my perspective knowing there will be no repercussion. I would be equally invited to have a conversation addressing an issue with a fellow Field Staff as I would the Clinical Director or Program Director. Across the board, our management team is open to hearing ideas of critique and change. We want to hear new perspectives, and incorporate growth where it can apply.

Additionally, if I have an interest that may add to my experience or impact as a Field Staff, there is the possibility of financial support from Evoke in pursuing that interest. As an example, we often use yoga in the field as a way to connect with our bodies, encourage self-care, and utilize the anxiety relieving aspects, among so many other things. If I have an interest in pursuing a yoga instructor training, there’s the potential for Evoke to cover part or all of the cost for that training. I have personally attended professional conferences, wilderness medicine training, and networking events while supported by the company.

I can bring my full personality to work, and receive recognition from peers and management while continuing to perfect my craft and connect with others. I can travel the world several times a year. I can share the minute details of the world within rock-bound lichen with the clients under my care. I can trust that I’ll be told when and how I could improve, and be acknowledged for exceptional performance. It’s simple. At Evoke I feel cared for, supported, and encouraged, both personally and professionally.


Thanks so much for sharing this, and all the kind words Noah. I feel similar to you in many ways being able to work with you and the many other field staff, therapists, and office & field support staff. You bring so much to Evoke, providing me with feedback and support, and I truly believe Evoke continues to improve and be better because of your investment and continued contributions. Thank you for all you do.

Posted by Rick Heizer

Thanks Noah! I always love working with you in the field. Thanks for your continued dedication and support of the participants in the field!

Posted by Matt Hoag

Love this, Noah! Great perspective.

Posted by Kate Burgess

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