Students Who Do Cool Things: Jared Rothenberg ’15 and Ivy Sokol ’15, founders of Moving Mountains

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We often take our time in nature for granted. Some of us may have gone to summer camps that taught us how to kayak or build a campfire; others may have lived just minutes away from a beautiful national park. Experiences like these, or even an outdoor activity as simple as a run up Blackstone Boulevard, are out of the reach of many children who grow up in Providence. Jared Rothenberg ’15 and Ivy Sokol ’15 have partnered in order to provide a greater level of access to the outdoors and, in doing so, are joining a growing outdoor education movement. Their new organization is called Moving Mountains.

In their words, Moving Mountains is “an environmental education program for high school students in Providence,” but it can be so much more. The website for the organization lays out a persuasive case for the value of outdoor education programs like this. Not only do they “empower participants to achieve academically, embrace civic engagement, and practice lifelong environmental stewardship,” but they also provide physiological benefits that range from lower blood pressure to improved mental health.

For Sokol, the setting of outdoor education is essential to improving outcomes for kids: “the wilderness is sort of a simplified classroom in which behaviors can be enforced really easily.” Outside the walls of a typical high school, students can “become more self-aware” while — as Rothenberg later added — still thinking about “their local environments, whether that’s local parks or local issues… that might influence their lack of access” to the outdoors. In this way, Moving Mountains’ programming promotes both “leadership development” and “a sense of environmental stewardship.”

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