Before joining her school's Wilderness Adventure Club as a high school freshman, Giao Tran had never experienced the outdoors. Little did she know then that after her first outing, she'd be more than just a club member –- she'd become an outdoors lifer.
"We went everywhere –- kayaking, backpacking, overnight camping," says Giao, who eventually became the club's president.
Now that she's in college, she returns the favor as a certified Inner City Outings leader who leads kids on the same trips she used to enjoy as a teenager.
"When I had the chance to become a Sierra Club leader, I was thinking, 'Wow, this is so awesome –- the opportunity to teach future generations these environmental values,'" she says.
Giao now attends Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, where she's studying international relations. When she isn't hitting the books or backpacking, she's involved as an executive board member with Phan Boi Chau Youth for Democracy, which connects Vietnamese youth with the community.
All of these qualities make Giao an exceptional leader for ICO and the Angeles Chapter. The ICO program of Orange County is one of 50 volunteer-run groups nationwide that put together 800 outings each year for more than 11,000 kids. ICO in Orange County partners with Giao's high school Wilderness Adventure Club in connecting youth with nature. The high school club has now produced a remarkable four ICO leaders.
"Through that group, and through my teachers, they taught me a lot about how important it is that we lead a life that upholds environmental values and sustainability," Giao says.