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Celebrating Education, Survival, and the Planet on Climate Hike Glacier


It’s time to celebrate!

Teresa Raef will be cancer free for five years come May and in April she will graduate with her master’s degree in Applied School Leadership. As a reward, and a celebration, she has decided to take on a new challenge. A challenge that will make herself, and most importantly, this planet, a better place. In late July, she will participate in a Climate Hike in Glacier National Park. There, she’ll spend five days hiking fifty miles in “the wildest national park in the United States.”

In talking about why she chose to do Climate Hike, she said “If you or anyone you know has ever had cancer, you know that reaching the five-year mark is a magnificent triumph. Having had cancer was the best and worst experience imaginable. It makes you appreciate every minute of life and never take a single moment for granted. It is also a traumatic, gut-wrenchingly terrifying, and lonely experience. Without warning or reason, some of us are presented with the reality of this disease and we have no other choice than to rise up and be strong. And it shapes and molds our lives for the rest of our days here on earth. Surviving cancer has made me want to be a better person and to make the most of each day. It has reminded me of the gifts that I have and to be bold in my endeavors… and to never allow myself to be complacent.”

She is also participating because she spends most of her free time in the forest, and she feels she owes it to Mother Earth to do her part to give back because of the immense joy nature brings her every day. Teresa grew up in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California and always appreciated being outdoors. Her childhood days were spent building forts out of trees and splashing in creeks. When she moved away to college, she was no longer near the forest. It took her a few years to realize that she needed nature to survive, so she moved to Northern California in the middle of a gorgeous redwood forest. She now lives minutes from the Sonoma Coast in a small home underneath the redwoods, overlooking the Russian River.

Now, every day she thinks to herself, “Gosh this Earth is such a beautiful place!”

And she wants to help keep it that way for the next generation. She is the assistant principal at a beautiful TK-8th charter school in west Sonoma County whose mission focuses on environmental stewardship. The teachers work closely with the students to ensure that they are aware of climate change, and provide them with the knowledge and inspiration to go out and make the world a better place. Part of her motivation for Climate Hike Glacier comes from her desire to lead by example and show those kids that we can all have an impact on improving our planet.

Her personal health and wellness motivate her as well. As a cancer survivor, she is always aware of the importance of physical wellness. She tries to eat right, get plenty of rest, and exercise as often as possible. She is always motivated to take the best care of herself possible.

As a California resident, Teresa has been heavily impacted by wildfires. Last year, the fires in Santa Rosa were devastating to her community. She had friends, peers, and students who lost their homes. Almost every student at her school was directly or indirectly impacted by the wildfires.

The money she raises will make the planet clean, beautiful, and sustainable for our future generations. She is raising $3,000 for Climate Ride and has selected the Sierra Club through the Climate Ride grants program because she has spent many vacations in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The June Lake loop is one of her favorite places on the planet. Additionally, the Sierra Club is a foundation that she has always respected and believed in.  They fight to keep our planet strong and thriving.

She is an avid hiker and regularly (1-3 days/week) hikes 5-10 miles with steep climbs. She feels very prepared to take on this challenge. She will definitely try to hike at a higher altitude while training over the summer. She is currently hiking at about sea level, so adjusting her lungs to altitude will be her greatest challenge.

Though she works in education, she is also a musician on the side. She plays guitar and sings. She feels very inspired (for her fundraising especially) to coordinate a big music event to raise money for Climate Ride and her chosen beneficiary Sierra Club. It would be a great opportunity to raise awareness and spread the word. It’d also be a great excuse for her to perform for people, which is one of her life’s greatest joys.

“If you ever spend time out in the forest, you know how precious and irreplaceable our plants and animals are. Our planet needs our help.” -Teresa Raef

You can support her journey here: