July 06, 2018

Alumnus To Lead New State Office of Outdoor Recreation

Cailin O’Brien-Feeney BA ’07 has been selected from a competitive pool of applicants to serve as the first associate director of the State of Oregon’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation. His charge: preserve Oregon’s environment and promote widespread access to the state’s abundant natural beauty.

Cailin O’Brien-Feeney BA ’07 will lead the State of Oregon’s newly created Office of Outdoor Recreation, a branch of Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department. The new office will coordinate and streamline the state’s outdoor recreation policy, working with current environmental agencies to help promote and preserve access to Oregon’s unique natural landscape.

“Lewis & Clark was an ideal place to explore my interests, and it set me on the path for what I’ve done since,” said O’Brien-Feeney, who majored in environmental studies. “It’s an educational environment that values ideas, critical thinking, and a curious mind. In my work now, many people are experts in one area—planning, policy, science, design, or marketing, for example—but the most effective are fluent in several. The interdisciplinary approach of my course of study at L&C, paired with my time as an outdoor leader, gave me a really solid foundation on which to build a career.”

While at Lewis & Clark, O’Brien-Feeney was involved in College Outdoors, a department in the Student Life division that provides students with opportunities to take organized trips to different areas in the Northwest. These trips complement students’ academic studies with experiential education, ranging from picking mushrooms in coastal forests to backpacking through the subalpine lakes near Mount Saint Helens.

“I loved my time with College Outdoors!” O’Brien-Feeney said. “I made great friends, gained confidence and responsibility, and got experience with a variety of recreational opportunities. My favorite trip was the New Student Orientation multiday rafting on the Deschutes: those trips were a great way to build community by sharing an adventure before entering college, and also really fun.”

After Lewis & Clark, O’Brien-Feeney earned his environmental science graduate degree from the University of Idaho, and went on to work with the U.S. Forest Service and as a river guide in Idaho. Most recently, he worked for the Outdoor Industry Association, a national trade group that promotes outdoor recreation and environmental engagement.

“Cailin exhibited a tremendous amount of ingenuity in building a successful advocacy model that raises the profile and opportunity around outdoor recreation in states and at the local level,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “He will bring that thoughtfulness to the state of Oregon as he assists the state in nurturing outdoor businesses and preserving places to recreate.”

My favorite trip was the New Student Orientation multiday rafting on the Deschutes: those trips were a great way to build community by sharing an adventure before entering college, and also really fun. Cailin O’Brien-Feeney BA ’07

In his new position, O’Brien-Feeney will lead a small team to promote legislation that improves public access to outdoor recreation. In addition to collaborating with tourism groups and organizations already working in the outdoor recreation industry, the team will provide resources to land managers about how best to balance development and preservation of Oregon’s unique natural resources.

“The opportunity to lead Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation is an incredible one,” O’Brien-Feeney said. “So much good work is already going on around the state, so in many ways my first task will be to listen and learn where this new effort can truly add value. More simply, the goal to improve opportunities for all Oregonians to get outside is a mission I couldn’t be more excited to work on every day.”


College Outdoors

Environmental Studies