Finding Center

Nick Loeb is one of Partners’ School-Based Mentors in Soroco Middle School. Nick is originally from Takoma Park, MD outside of Washington D.C. He attended college at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT where he received his B.S. in Biology. Nick has spent the last three summers working in the Steamboat Springs area doing conservation work. Nick plans on pursuing a graduate degree in psychology and hopes to work in Wilderness Therapy. Here is what Nick had to say about his mentoring experience:

When I was 18 I got a job working for the Bureau of Land Management in Kremmling, Colorado.  Kremmling is a small town forty five minutes from any substantially populated area and I am a city boy who grew up in the Washington DC area. Needless to say, I was out of my element. I had never lived in such a small community and was nervous about fitting in. To further complicate the situation I was younger than all my coworkers by at least six years and throughout high school I had systematically exhausted all my parents’ energy for bailing me out of trouble. As a result I was on my fifth last chance and could not afford to regress into old behaviors.

 I was hopeful. At the end of high school I had found my calling in the wilderness of Montana and I was excited about exploring the many National Forests and Parks that northern Colorado has to offer. I only needed a friend and guide to show me the way. Fortunately one of my fellow bunkhouse roommates was Ross. Ross was by all standard descriptions a mountain man. I did not meet him until over a week of living in the bunkhouse because he spent almost all his extra time finding new routes to summit mountains, many of which he had already done before. This reputation preceded him around the office, some deeming his endless supply of motivation to be irrational and idiotic. However, I glorified this hunger and I desired to find the center that he had.


Over the course of the summer Ross and I began to hang out more. Although he would never fully include me in all of his activities he gradually warmed up to taking me on hikes and giving me ideas of where to go. He helped me acclimate to living in a small town and was there when it got isolating. Halfway through the summer I wrecked my truck and as a replacement I bought an old Tacoma that needed and still needs constant maintenance. I knew nothing about cars and Ross was there to show me what should be done, but also let me make the mistakes I needed to. I made it through the first summer in Kremmling and a second as well, mostly due to Ross. We were never best friends, but he helped me find solidarity and independence at a time in a person’s life that can often feel at the least, tumultuous.

In the fall of my second season in Kremmling, after I had already left to go back to college, Ross died. I had already intended on working with at risk youth in some way after I graduated and his passing solidified this. I feel lucky to have been given so many opportunities and chances. I know that my life would not be where it is today if not for people like Ross. I truly believe that the potential is in every person to be successful and find happiness, but unfortunately many kids are born into a disadvantage.

When I discovered Partners in Routt County I was thrilled. Here was a program designed around helping the kids who needed it most in the very place that I had first found a home in my adult life. In the first months of my time working in the South Routt County middle school the kids have only reassured me of what I want to do in life. 

Helping kids realize their potential in a life that can seem predisposed to something less, is what I believe will guide me to the center that Ross found in the last steps to the summit. 

Thank you, Nick, for sharing your powerful story of mentoring, and for your dedication to making a difference in the lives of Routt County youth. Partners is lucky to have you as one of our invaluable mentors!