Throughout the holiday season, we are reminded of how much we value and appreciate our TEAMBOOST partners. We have been spotlighting our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, and Leadership Team members this month to say THANK YOU for all of their incredible contributions to our community.
Today, we are commencing with our BOOST Gratitude Blog Series with 10 things you didn’t know about Eric Rowles, a BOOST Ambassador since 2019!
- How I started in the OST and expanded learning field – I am a product of this work, as my world was transformed as a Junior in High School. I had just moved from upstate New York to Redlands, California (military family) and did not have a network or community. I was invited to a lunchtime meeting with the Friday Night Live program… and realized that I was home. For the next two years, I found a network in the after school community – from key club and speech and debate to service-based programs, safe rides DUI prevention, peer counseling, and tutoring for middle school students.
- I realized that I had an opportunity to still be involved in OST programs when I was offered a job to work with the Riverside County Friday Night Live program while also attending UC Riverside (Go Highlanders!). I would go to college in the morning and then travel to middle school and high schools in the afternoon facilitating ATOD prevention and leadership programs. I found a family in the Friday Night Live system, and eventually accepted a dream job (after completing grad school) as the Sr. Director of Training for the Youth Leadership Institute in San Francisco.
- YLI gave me a state-wide, and then a nationwide viewpoint of the power of OST and youth work as I traveled and trained in 52 of the 58 counties in California, and then expanded our services throughout the West Coast. After 5 great years at YLI, I launched out on my own to start a national training agency called Leading To Change. 15 years later, and with 150,000 OST staff and participants involved, we have been honored to observe and train OST programs in 45 of the 50 states and throughout Canada. And it all started with a lunchtime meeting in Redlands, CA.
- I am a gypsy by nature (thanks to the Air Force lifestyle of moving every 3 years) and love to travel. All of my milestone birthdays have been celebrated with an extra flair, including Disneyland, Barcelona, Spain, New York City, Atlanta, GA (I share the same bday as MLK and sat on the steps of his childhood house on the day of his 50th bday), and this coming year… Disney World to celebrate Mickey’s (and mine) 50th!
- One of the “bucket list” items that I’ve always wanted to do is write a book about being a father (I have two amazing teen daughters). During the pandemic, I realized we had an opportunity to write this together – and on Fathers Day of 2020, I published www.RaisingDadsRaisingDaughters.com – an incomplete collection of stories, strategies, and sacred bonds between dads and daughters.
- An interesting job or skill? When I was in college, I launched “Listen To Me Productions” – a traveling theater company that literally traversed CA in a van presenting to conferences and high school and college audiences. I also worked in bringing musicians and actors to college campuses – including Gwen Stefani, George Clinton, Tribe Called Quest, George Lopez, Drake, Weezer, Radiohead, and more.
- I’m an amateur photographer who spent my years in California taking pictures of the amazing landscape and then selling my art at local art markets and festivals. The focus of my photography changed to my children and now I travel to my daughter’s soccer games taking action shots of soccer teams that are posted on tournament websites.
- Why I do this work – We love to see our audiences become WOWED by a really fast, interactive, and unlike-any-other training experience. There is no better feeling than to know that you may have sparked a fire, or introduced a tool to someone that is going to transform the way that they work with young people.
- Secret Identity: I am a huge Star Wars fan and have been asked to make guest appearances as a stormtrooper in full armor at movie premieres and festivals. The joy it brings to others reminds me of when I was the mascot for UC Riverside and also a cast member at Disneyland!
- We adopted two rescue cats during the pandemic – Tiger and Ashton. They are brothers and act more like dogs than cats – including greeting at the door, sitting and shaking paws on command, and wrestling with each other all over the house.
I had an avocado toast, of course, for breakfast!
Thank you, Eric, for being part of our TEAMBOOST community and for sharing your leadership in the field.