Where did we find this guy?
In 2015, when we invited Brian to join us at a round table discussion to talk about hosting our first Outdoor Recreation Summit, his contagious enthusiasm was well received. The choice was obvious and we were delighted to have him join us as a panelist in one of our two breakout sessions on February 26, 2016. # 1: Growing Washington’s Recreation Economy, Made in Washington: Manufacturing Roundtable. Moderator Ray Blotteaux – Transition Composites, President. Panelists: Dodd Grande – K2 Sports, Product Director; Ashley Fullenwider, Nuu Muu, Choreographer; Brian Roche, McNett (now GearAID), Senior Product and Technical Sales Director.
I dug this description up from the archives. “Brian Roche is a self-proclaimed “WILDERNUT” and has dedicated over 22 years as an outdoor industry professional. He is often on the road educating about DIY outdoor gear repair, and representing the brand Gear AID. Half of his career was spent creating outdoor education programs in both wilderness and alternative school settings in the PNW. Brian’s current focus is working with outdoor brand manufactures developing simple product solutions for gear repair and maintenance. He has a passion for experiential education, outdoor service projects, storytelling, and earning job titles that barely fit on business cards. Side projects include fastest friction fire making, fly fishing from packrafts, and “boy and dog” adventures on any trail, anywhere, anytime.”
Hooked & On Board
This was the beginning of something beautiful for us all personally and professionally. We invited Brian to join us as one of our Board of Directors by June 2016. He immediately became an active participant in our board and organization’s development and logically rose through the ranks to President in 2018.
Here’s “Rochey”** leading the pack in the 2018 Bellingham Traverse* for his Gear AID Company Team. You can see by his grin that he’s thoroughly enjoying himself.
It’s All Who You Know
In addition to being fast on his feet, Brian also has his sense on the pulse. Over the course of the years from our inaugural conference in 2016, Recreation Northwest was establishing ourselves as the connectors for people that work in the outdoor recreation industry across Washington State. Brian helped facilitate these connections and develop our approach. Over the course of the years, we would continue to host our conference and add regular social engagements in both Bellingham/Whatcom & Skagit as well as creating a presence in Seattle.
Outdoor Recreation Champion
Brian was our posterboy for our Outdoor Recreation Champion campaign and fundraising breakfast. While this wasn’t an actual quote from Brian, our designer put the perfect words in his mouth, “The outdoors give me energy, inner peace, and a whole lotta shakra lakra!”
Launched “The Alliance”
By 2019, Roche (and former board member Linda Balfour at Superfeet were) highly influential in guiding our approach to forming the Washington Outdoor Business Alliance. We thought we were really on to something there, but it fell victim to the pandemic. Here’s Brian addressing the group on an Industry Tour at Gear AID. https://www.recreationnorthwest.org/recreation-northwest/gear-aid-industry-tour-alliance-gathering-kick-off/
At home in nature
Complimentary to our industry work, we were also developing our Parkscription program during his tenure. Here’s Brian being contemplative while we were out on a “forest bathing” exercise in a local park. When talking about the value of nature and the potential for programming you would see his passion come through even stronger. Here’s Brian being contemplative.
You Will be Missed
Brian’s passion for our profession and nature was shared most intimately with us at our board meetings and working retreats. We would sit back patiently, giving Brian the opportunity to freeform and wax poetic about the “state of the world” in the out-of-doors. We would knowingly build time into the agenda to accommodate his soliloquies and often looked forward to the insight and summaries he’d provide.
On behalf of staff, our directors, and the community:
Thank you for your service, passion, and dedication to the outdoors!
Fun Fact: At a board meeting we were asked to envision what could be done with a big cardboard tube as part of an ice-breaker exercise. Brian told a story then proceeded to play it as a didgeridoo. Minds blown!
* 2018 Bellingham Traverse- 2018 was the last year we were the hosts, before passing the torch to Pacific Multisports.
** “Rochey” is pronounced Roach-eee
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.