Former VISIONS program leader and carpenter Lee Conah volunteers, writes music and is an accomplished handyman. Let’s meet Lee!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I’ve always been a handy, crafty, DIY sort of person who enjoys problem solving. As a self employed carpenter and handyman those traits serve me well. I like making crankies, building instruments from repurposed materials and salvaged lumber, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and writing songs. I was also able to work in 5 different programs with VISIONS – Alaska, Dominica, Australia, and two different locations in Montana.

What is your advice for students today who are considering a VISIONS experience?

DO IT! You’ll work hard, play hard, and grow with amazing people while doing good and making memories that last a lifetime.

In what ways did VISIONS help you develop life skills?

VISIONS was as powerful a learning experience for me as for any of the young people I worked with. Meta-skills such as teamwork, interpersonal communication, self awareness, cultural awareness, goal setting and planning, being flexible when things go wrong—the things that VISIONS staff try to impart and that the unique experiential madness of a VISIONS summer reinforces—I needed five summers of that! Today my job is as much about communicating clearly with clients, understanding their needs and walking them through options, as it is about cutting wood and driving nails. My relationships with loved ones, teammates, and bandmates are better and richer, and navigating and overcoming the twists, turns, and frustrations of life are easier because of my VISIONS experience. I am certain of that..

Do you actively volunteer? If so, how?

I recently became a certified “Baltimore Weed Warrior” and help manage non-native invasive plant species in the City parks.

What’s on your playlist?

Working for VISIONS and driving in the Alaskan bush in 1999 I heard a song on the radio that captured me. I spent hours tracking down the name of the artist and ordered a CD from the Hawaiian tourist board. A year or two later the wider world would know of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World. But the whole collection, “Facing Future”, is wonderful and remains in constant rotation.

You said you like writing music, is there anything you’d like to share with the VISIONS community?

Here’s a song I wrote about doing the type of work we did in VISIONS, and what I still enjoy doing today, called “Bless My Tools”; you can listen to it on SoundCloud.

Flathead 1995, Lee Conah, VISIONS Former Director
Dominica 1997, Lee Conah, VISIONS Former Director

Owen Clarke is a writer for VISIONS. A career outdoor journalist, his work appears in 30+ international magazines, including Iron & Air, Climbing, Outside, Rock and Ice, SKI, Trail Runner and The Outdoor Journal. He is also the executive editor of Skydiving Source and Indoor Skydiving Source.

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