Catching up with outdoor adventurer Rachael Moffatt
By Jason Lee on Nov. 22, 2019
Rachael Moffatt graduated from VCU in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. She was also a Trips Manager and Trip Leader with the VCU Rec Sports Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP). She was featured in the VCU Rec Sports 2018-2019 magazine, which highlighted her ability to turn her outdoor hobbies and passions into a career with the help of several departments on campus.
Moffatt currently works as an Outdoor Recreation Instructor with the James River Park System. “I teach skills such as kayaking, biking, and environmental education to kids and community members. Many of our programs are through an organization called Next Up, which provides quality programs to Richmond Public School middle schoolers during out-of-school time. We bring bikes to the school and teach them basics such as road safety, controlled braking, bike anatomy, and track stands. We also take kids on the river and teach them kayaking and snorkeling on the James.”
“My time at the OAP gave me a sense of professionalism,” states Moffatt. Her supervisor with the OAP, Karl Schmidt, can attest to that professionalism. “Rachael always presented herself as a professional during her time at the OAP. As one of her supervisors, I could tell that she was more intentional about how she acted than the average undergrad employee. She would seek out work and training opportunities that would allow her to build on her current skill set, rather than just highlighting the skills that she already had.”
Moffatt reflects on her time with the OAP, “Through the OAP I got involved in a lot of outdoor activities such as climbing and whitewater boating. Through pursuing these activities I became involved with the large supportive communities that surround these activities, especially the whitewater paddling community in Richmond. I was in this group and in a wilderness medicine class that the OAP taught, where I met my current boss and learned about the James River Park System. The most valuable thing that the OAP has given me is emotional support and advice. I know that I can always come back and talk to my superiors there and they will give me honest feedback and advice. They have helped me work through many challenges and have helped me build skills and grow as a professional and a person.”
Moffatt offers advice to graduating seniors, “Make connections with as many people as you can. You never know who your next employer will be or who you could be working with. Take opportunities to learn new skills and especially take any chance for professional development. A well written and formatted resume will get you far. Never underestimate yourself - many skills that seem uninteresting or normal can go a long way towards distinguishing yourself. That random class you took that used excel could be the skill that sets you apart from someone else or that personal backpacking trip that you planned and executed can show initiative and forethought. Think about your strengths and how you can get that across in a couple of lines on a resume or cover letter.”