Our goal is to create the conditions in which people and nature can heal and thrive, together. Modern life is putting increasing negative pressures on human health, and on the natural environment. However, experiencing nature and outdoor activities can help us to reconnect with our ancient roots as a species, while benefitting our health, and simultaneously helping to heal the natural environment. The good news is that research shows that nature can help us recover from trauma, reduce stress, and alleviate depression. Additionally, research suggests that having a meaningful connection to nature is essential for fostering a sense of environmental stewardship. As our society becomes increasingly urban and disconnected from nature, we need to be more active in ensuring that all people understand how essential nature is for our wellbeing.
URBAN UNDER-RESOURCED YOUTH PROGRAMS
Unfortunately, the negative impacts of increased development are unequal. Among those who are most seriously affected are low-income individuals living in urban areas. Research shows that those living in urban areas, who are deprived of nature, have overall lower measures of health, including mental and physical health. Additionally, researchers suggest that nature deprivation seems to remove a vital layer of psychological protection that aids in coping with various stressors. The deprivation of nature, combined with additional traumas and poverty creates serious barriers that prevent people from reaching their full potential. Those experiencing such barriers require holistic supports that consider all of the factors involved.
As a veteran-led organization, many of us have sacrificed dearly while trying to help make this world a better place. That being said, we carry the strong conviction that people deserve to have the best possible conditions to live happy, healthy lives - and that requires that we have a robust and healthy natural environment. We want to see all people have plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature, ensure our lands and waterways are as healthy as possible, and do our part to combat climate change. After the service, many veterans find themselves without a dedicated purpose and without the community support they require, so Exploring Roots hopes to create opportunities for veterans to recover while they continue to make this world a better place. We also believe that veterans can be influential leaders, helping others understand that protecting the environment is not inherently political... it is a moral and ethical responsibility.
Adam Magers, Founder & Executive Director: Adam is a veteran of the US Army and the Iraq War, and is the founder and architect of one of the nation’s leading programs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress - Warriors’ Ascent. He possesses a Master’s Degree in Global Studies, and is a student of Depth Psychology with an emphasis on Ecopsychology. He is a nature-enthusiast and environmentalist with a strong conviction that healing people and healing the Earth are inextricably tied together.
Dan Allenbaugh, Co-Founder & Director of Programs: Dan has decades of experience as an outdoor guide and instructor, while also carrying a passion for supporting the less fortunate and those suffering. In the past, he has worked with the Division of Youth Services as an Outdoor Rehabilitation Counselor, and as a Climbing Instructor and Route Setter at ROKC Climbing Gym. He possesses a BS in Sociology, and has expert knowledge in the realms of climbing, canoeing, and many other outdoor activities, and is well-versed in environmental education and leading activities that promote wellness and personal growth.
Jon Feder, Lead Facilitator, Male Youth Programs: Jon is an experienced outdoorsman who currently serves as a manager at ROKC Climbing Gym. In the past, he has served on staff as the Head Rock Instructor at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and as an Outdoor Education Instructor in Estes Park, Colorado. Jon is a candidate for the American Mountain Guide Association's Single Pitch Instructor Course, and he has held certifications with the American Canoe Association.
Tee Mason, Water Skills Specialist & Facilitator: Tee has over a decade of experience with the Division of Youth Services as an Outdoor Rehabilitation Counselor, where he still serves on a full-time basis. Tee is an American Canoe Association certified Canoe and Flat Water Instructor with lots of experience on the water, but his professional background brings a wealth of other valuable experiences and training to our team, including an arsenal of team-building exercises. The combination of his own training, professional background, and personal experiences serve to have a huge impact on those he supports.
Dale Duncan, Co-Founder & Board of Directors: Dale is the managing partner at McLennan Design, one of the world’s leading architectural firms that creates Living Buildings, which adhere to the strictest environmental construction standards in the world. In the past, he has also served as a professor at the University of Kansas. Dale is also the President of the Spencer C. Duncan Make it Count Foundation, which he and his family started to support veterans after their son Spencer was killed in action in Afghanistan. Dale is a philanthropist, leader, professor, husband, and father who is passionate about making this world a better place for everyone.
Andrew Potter, Co-Founder & Board of Directors: Andrew served in the US Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment and served three tours in Afghanistan. Since leaving the service, he has worked with Warriors’ Ascent delivering nature-based therapeutic programming, and has built his business - ROKC Climbing Gym in Kansas City. Andrew is an outdoorsman and a dedicated climber who enjoys helping others to connect to a deep sense of adventure and to discover their inner strengths.
Carol McCoy, Board of Directors: Carol is a US Army Veteran and a former Law Enforcement Officer, who currently serves as a member of Team Rubicon's National Incident Management Team and as a Technical Specialist. In the past, she has also served as Team Rubicon's Region 7 Administrator, and as an IT specialist for both the City of Olathe and the State of Kansas. Carol has been a highly valued member of other Boards of Directors, including the Spencer C. Duncan Make it Count Foundation, and as a founding Director at Warriors' Ascent.
Indira Palacios-Valladares, Ph.D.: Dr. Palacios-Valladares is a professor teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in the Political Science Department at Missouri State University. She received her MA and PhD in Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she specialized in comparative politics with an emphasis on Latin America. Dr. Palacios-Valladares has had works published in formats including books, articles, and professional publications on a wide range of issues, such as examining protests, activism, and social movements. Some of her specific work includes research pertaining to Chilean labor politics and women’s social and political participation in Latin America, while her current research focuses on Latin-American student movements. Her research helps explain why some groups are more active and successful than others in advancing their interests, and her mentorship helps Exploring Roots develop and improve strategies to achieve its goals.
Juan Rovalo, Biologist, Certified Biomimicry Professional, MBA, MS: Juan is the founder and key principal of In Site and Associates Consulting firm focused on providing ecological services to design teams in their quest to achieve the highest ecological performance and environmental integration of the projects. His growing international activity in Biomimicry related projects, including various locations throughout Mexico, the United States, and beyond, has positioned Juan as one of best specialists worldwide. Juan holds a Bachelors degree in Biology from the National University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM), as well as an MBA at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA) and a Master in Science with ASU. He also holds the title of Certified Biomimicry Professional from Biomimicry 3.8 following the completion of their inaugural two-year Biomimicry training program. Throughout his biological studies, Juan has worked in a variety of research laboratories, including neuroscience, biotechnology, ecology, botany and mycology. He is also a member of the Society for the Ecological Restoration, the International Living Future Institute, the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, and the Puget Sound Mycological Society.
Darlene Budd, Ph.D.: Dr. Budd is a professor of Political Science, and the Director of the International Studies program in the Department of Government, International Studies, and Languages at the University of Central Missouri. She received her B.S. from Indiana University - Bloomington, a M.A. in International Relations from San Francisco State University, and her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She teaches courses on Asian politics, women in politics, globalization, and international studies; and is the advisor for the Model United Nations student organization. She received the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Meritorious Service Award in 2011. Her recent publications include a Journal of Research on Women and Gender article on how a gendered policy agenda may be used to close the mayoral ambition gap, and two book chapters on Japan's global climate change politices and ASEAN's response to the rise of ISIL (Routledge, 2017 and 2016).
Phil Bressler: Phil is a marketing/branding consultant and is also the founder and president of the niche marketing firm Latch – Young Adult Marketing. He has spent most of his career in Kansas City; however his work has also taken him to Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City and Chicago. He has worked with a wide range of companies from small local businesses, to non-profit organizations, to multi-billion dollar retail brands. These brands include McDonald’s, Hardee’s Restaurants, Quaker State, PepsiCo, Sonic Drive-In and many others. Phil is an adjunct professor for the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program at KU Edwards. Phil is inspired and motivated to help guide the overall marketing efforts for Exploring Roots.