“The BOEC has assisted my growth in every way. I am a better communicator, listener, facilitator, problem-solver and processor because of the opportunities provided to me by this amazing organization.”

Jillian Palacio on a rafting trip

Jillian on a rafting trip

These are the words of eight-year BOEC veteran Jillian Palacio who started as an intern in the summer of 2013 and has been with the nonprofit, in a variety of roles, ever since. From working with the Wilderness Program to grow her skills as a raft guide and climbing instructor to running overnight camps and volunteering as a snowboard instructor in the winters, the Fort Wayne, IN native has done a little bit of everything along the way.

It all started at Indiana University where she studied Recreational Therapy with a focus on Therapeutic Outdoor Programming. In other words, exactly what the BOEC does. So, naturally she happened upon the BOEC by following this path and is now completing her eighth year as an important asset to the organization.

Jillian takes part in a camp fire

Jillian (lower right) takes part in a camp fire

“Several things brought me to the BOEC,” remembers Jillian. “The variety of programming offered, the variety of populations served, and the opportunity to live in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to name just a few.”

But it wasn’t until the winter of 2019 that all the passion and hard work paid off as she became the full-time Ski Office Coordinator for BOEC’s Adaptive Ski & Snowboard Program. After two years in that role, while spending the summers with the Wilderness Program, Jillian was finally offered what she refers to as her “dream job” as the BOEC Training Coordinator. In this position she gets to share her passion for what she does with incoming staff and interns to not only prepare them for their upcoming roles, but their futures as well.

Jillian prepares for a BOEC trip

Jillian prepares for a BOEC trip

“BOEC is often a position early on in people’s careers,” says Jillian. “I’ve had the opportunity to grow immensely, both personally and professionally with the BOEC, so being in a position to pave that road for others means a lot to me. In this role, I can directly work with our staff so they can get what’s best for them out of this opportunity.”

While there is no such thing as a typical day on the job these days, Jillian relishes the opportunity to answer a lot of questions about everything BOEC does and in turn teaches and learns at the same time. “I think they go hand in hand,” she says.

Jillian checking out the canyons

Jillian checking out the canyons

So, now in her dream job pursuing a career that she prepared for in college, Jillian points to the BOEC as the source of her success.

“I’ve been given the chance to share my love of BOEC and what we do through training new and old staff on what we do and why,” she says. “The BOEC is so special because we make the outdoors a space of opportunity for everyone.”

And that all-encompassing opportunity shows up in one of her favorite BOEC memories that came during a Brain Injury Alliance camp when the group was reading The Door of Everything by Ruby Nelson together.

“We finished reading the book on the dock at sunset,” she remembers. “As I read the last few pages, everyone was crying. That moment was very impactful on me and my career at the BOEC.”

Jillian with a BOEC participant

Jillian with a BOEC participant

When asked to use three words to describe the BOEC Jillian quickly responds with empowering, community, and life-changing … three words that also describe what Jillian means to the BOEC. She empowers the staff to do their best work, creates a sense of community while doing it, and helps to change the lives of all those that go through her training. Jillian is the epitome of what the BOEC is and the BOEC is the embodiment of who Jillian is in return. Who could argue that they don’t go hand in hand?

Thanks for the past eight years of dedication to the BOEC, Jillian, and here’s to many, many more!