Lander, WY — October 28, 2020 — At the 27th annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) held online from October 19-23, 2020, Sara Souza received the Charles (Reb) Gregg Wilderness Risk Management Award for her significant contributions to the field of risk management in outdoor education and adventure professions.
Presented annually since 2006, recipients of the Charles (Reb) Gregg Wilderness Risk Management Award are recognized for exceptional leadership, service, and innovation in wilderness risk management.
Souza launched a unique field research safety program for the University of California (UC) system in 2016 through the UC Center of Excellence for Field Safety. This program supports the 41 field stations and reserves that make up the UC Natural Reserve System. In her nomination letter, colleagues praised her wide-ranging efforts, and Steering Committee Chair Mike Pigg noted that “Sara built from the ground up a supportive and effective Center which serves 10 UC campuses [and], with her help, field researchers in the UC system have been prepared to conduct their research in a safe and regulated way during COVID-19.”
In her current role as a Field Safety Specialist, she oversees and provides training across various areas of expertise, from field sciences to wildlife researchers. Her responsibilities range from facilitating forums to providing training and risk management assessments. In one accomplishment, Souza notes that “Since I’ve been in this role, we’ve drastically increased our numbers of researchers taking wilderness first aid—we have hundreds of people getting training every year.”
When she evaluates the larger impact of her role and contributions to risk management, she emphasizes culture and sharing expertise, which align with the core tenets of the WRMC: “I’m trying to create forums where people can come together and talk about all these challenges, and then facilitate people being open to sharing expertise and being candid about things that go wrong.”
In this way, “a public health researcher working in Tanzania can talk to a wildlife biologist, and their science is different but a lot of the challenges and and hazards and issues they're facing are similar, so I like to think those forums and connections are some of the big successes in our program.”
Souza’s comments up on receiving the award can be viewed online here.
About the WRMC
The Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) unites hundreds of organizations annually to share ideas and educate wilderness practitioners on practical risk management skills. The WRMC is a collaboration between Outward Bound USA, the Student Conservation Association, and NOLS, in partnership with the WRMC Steering Committee. Its core objective is to offer an outstanding educational experience that helps attending programs mitigate the risks inherent in exploring, working, teaching, and recreating in wild places.