We are pleased to announce that our very own, Trish Haitz has been selected as the recipient of this year’s John McGrory Award. The John McGrory Award is a national award presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to enhance the safety of Outward Bound programs. John served as Chair of the Outward Bound Safety Committee and his leadership was instrumental in changing the culture and practices of safety within the organization. John was the architect of the National Safety Policy for Outward Bound USA, which continues to guide operations and influence the OB system today.
Trish has spent thousands of days actively managing safety both in and out of the field as an Instructor, Course Director, Staff Trainer, Program Director, and Staffing Manager. She has played a pivotal role in building a safety culture at North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) that praises and rewards excellent risk management.
In her current role as Program Director in Everglade’s City Trish led NCOBS in implementing the protocols and practices necessary to return to wilderness programming after an 11-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Trish, these efforts went beyond developing and implementing new COVID testing and mitigation protocols. She took time to sit down with community members and understand their hopes, concerns, and fears in returning to both base camp and expedition life. From these conversations, Trish created base camp and personal living norms that became the framework for reopening the rest of the NCOBS bases.
Anyone who has worked with Trish understands the value and emphasis she places on supporting those around her. She consistently advocates for the health and safety of all staff, pushing to ensure people have safe and comfortable living and working spaces, realistic workloads, and a supportive community surrounding them. As part of her award nomination packet, staff who have worked closely with Trish shared the following reflections:
When Trish asks someone “how are you doing?” it is not a casual greeting, but a genuine invitation to share your emotional state.
There is not a person nor a course at NCOBS for a long time that hasn’t been touched by Trish’s influence in some way…Her expectations of staff and students have become a standard that people want to strive for and be part of. Trish is a living legend.
As a first-year instructor, at my first debrief in the Everglades, I remember being in a packed room with folks who had worked at the school for a very long time. The amount of experience in the room was exciting, but also intimidating. During that debrief, I raised my hand with a question regarding policy and safety, but as soon as Trish called on me, I changed my mind and said, “Never mind, it’s a stupid question” and kept it to myself. Later that day, after the debrief, I was sitting in my room and heard a knock on the door. It was Trish. Without skipping a beat, she said “Don’t ever hold back a question you have because you’re scared to look stupid. Now, what was it”? We talked through the question I had, she took the time to explain it to me and then said “See? That wasn’t so stupid, was it? But now only you got to hear the answer, not everyone in that room.”
On behalf of her nominators and the Safety Teams across the OBUSA network, please join us in congratulating Trish and honoring her significant contributions to safety at Outward Bound.
The John McGrory Award Selection Committee