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JEFF OZIMEK

JO1Outdoor Programs Manager
206.842.2306 x115
jeff@biparks.org

Jeff is a lifelong advocate for getting more people outdoors and connected to our incredible world.  A “jack-of-all trades” he has spent the past 15 years of his career directing numerous outdoor adventure, travel, and experiential education programs throughout North America, explored more than 20 countries, and expanded outdoor opportunities for his local and regional community. He has been credited with getting over 25,000 people outdoors and active.

Since joining the Park District, Jeff built the Outdoor Adventure Program from the ground up into an award winning and highly acclaimed model now recognized as one of the best in Washington State for expertise in innovative outdoor adventure programming. Alongside his talented team he has designed and directed roughly 1,800+ recreation programs throughout the Pacific Northwest, encompassing more than 400 programs annually, and averaging an unbelievable 100,000 yearly participation hours. He is proud to say that what was once a blank canvas is now filled with remote backpacking trips, scenic kayaking outings, windswept sailing classes, adventurous mountain bike tours, snowy ski buses, challenging rock climbing courses, nationally acclaimed foraging expeditions, and a variety of other exciting recreation programs.

Deeply committed to outdoor advocacy and reducing barriers that inhibit people from participating in their outdoors, Jeff believes that all people should have access to their outdoors – whether it be their local parks or national forests – and is a champion for inclusive programming and design.

In 2018 Jeff received the prestigious Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award from the National Recreation and Park Association as well as the Spotlight Award for Programming Excellence from Washington Recreation and Park Association. He currently sits on numerous boards and advisory committees, and is the Co-Chair for Washington Recreation and Park Association’s 2020 Risk Management School.

Education: Masters of Science in Recreation Administration, Aurora University; Bachelors of Science in Recreation Resource Management, University of Montana.

Certifications: NOLS Administrative Risk Management Training, Wilderness First Responder, ACA Level 2 Kayak Touring Instructor, Effective Outdoor Program Design & Management, USCG 100 Ton Inland Mate’s License with Sail & Tow Auxiliary, US Powerboating Safety Instructor, High Ropes Challenge Course Management, High Ropes Emergency Rescue, PADI Open Water SCUBA, Leave No Trace Educator CPR/First Aid/AED

What are your interests?

Well, anything outdoors for sure. Besides that, I’m currently loving globetrotting and world travel, bike touring, backpacking, and of course meeting new Airedale Terriers in every place my wife and I visit. We’re big lovers of the breed and hope to be a rescue foster home for any that need help in the future.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Seeing the fresh excitement of folks about to start a trip or their beaming faces when they just arrive back from one.  Listening to their highlights, their challenges, and how glad they are to have taken that step to go outdoors and challenge themselves in a personal way. It’s incredibly rewarding and a big part of the reason of why we do what we do in the outdoor field.

What inspires you?

People who push themselves into trying something that’s outside their comfort zone. You can see them grow by the minute as they take on a new challenge, meet new people, and explore entirely different places they’ve never visited before. One step forward – no matter how small – is still a step forward.

Where is your happy place?

While exploring Canada a few years ago during the fall, my wife and I took a wrong turn onto a little known winding mountain road in British Columbia’s Okanagan region. The road took us by endless green and gold forests, grassy hills, trickling streams, and crystal clear mountain lakes. Every so often we’d spot a couple of small cottages – very homestead-like – that looked like they were living off the grid in tiny village communities. Spending time out with a pack of Airedale Terriers, fresh snow fall, and a wood stove would be my happy place.

What has been your favorite recent adventure?

There’s too many to choose from!  One of the most stunning was a recent international trip that I took with my wife. The motto was 42 days, 1 backpack, no reservations.  I was very fortunate to be able to backpack for six weeks across western and eastern Europe, visiting 16 countries, and covering a total distance of 16,000 kilometers.  The entire trip was a perfect exercise in flexible planning as we rode trains, took light rails, rented bicycles, booked ferry rides, dove subways, squished into buses, and explored numerous – and I mean numerous – historic urban centers via foot.  Every time we needed a recommendation of where to eat, sleep, or a sight to see we’d talk to the locals and get the inside scoop.  We ended up making some great friends and having a truly one-of-a-kind experience.  It was incredible.

Do you volunteer for any organizations?

Ha, just a few. Rotary International, Washington Recreation & Parks Association, Cascade Bicycle Club, Washington Trails Association, Every Kid in a Park Collaborative, Associations for Outdoor Recreation Education, Friends of the Farms, Rotary, Bainbridge Island Mountain Bike Club, Friends of Bainbridge Island High School Sailing, Squeaky Wheels Bicycle Advocacy, and several others.