Spotlights a student each month

School Spotlight: Dawnielle Loves Giving Back

Dawnielle Crooks has a very unique relationship with Outdoor Adventure Clubs.  As a high school student at Hughes High School, Dawnielle took Government and Economics classes from OACGC Founder, Denny McFadden.  She also participated in the kayaking trips arranged by Denny as team building exercises for the students and teachers.  OACGC was born out of the love and excitement Denny witnessed in his students during these paddling trips.  After retiring from teaching, he created Outdoor Adventure Clubs to expand the outdoor recreational opportunities he’d been providing at Hughes to students across the Cincinnati Public Schools district.

After graduating from high school, Dawnielle attended Wright State University and IUPUI and earned a BA in Education.  Today, Dawnielle works as a 9th grade teacher and team leader at Western Hills High School.  She is married with two children.  Dawnielle recently became an advisor for OACGC at Western Hills, bringing her personal Outdoor Adventure Club experience full circle.

Dawnielle tells us she chose to volunteer as a Club Adviser because she really enjoyed her experience with Outdoor Adventure Clubs during a summer program she coordinated last year. It also allows her the chance to get more active and outside with her students as well.

Dawnielle said “OACGC has exposed my students to a variety of outdoor activities that some have never experienced. I have watched their appreciation of the outdoors grow through these amazing, free opportunities provided by OACGC”.

Are you interested in coordinating a summer program for your school or organization with Outdoor Adventure Clubs?  Just shoot us an email (  We’d love to talk about the opportunities for engaging your students with the great outdoors in the summer!

2017-09-11T14:12:25+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|

School Spotlight: Withrow University High School

Withrow University High School has been a part of OACGC since the program’s inception in 2013.  In the three short years since, Withrow students have participated in over 300 adventures with OACGC.  Veteran Withrow advisor, Monique Screws, is to thank for much of the club’s success.  Monique is joined this year by Jacklyn Moon, a college access advisor working through the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative’s AmeriCorps program.  With support and encouragement from Monique and Jacklyn, Withrow’s Outdoor Adventure Club is sure to see another 300 experiences in no time!

See Image – Withrow students climbing the rock wall at University of Cincinnati Recreation Center during one of our adventures.

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|

School Spotlight: Aiken New Tech

Home of the Falcons, Aiken New Tech is a one-to-one technology school, where each student has access to an electronic device at all times. Students are co-taught math and engineering courses as well as an ever expanding visual arts program. Focusing on technology during the week, Aiken students welcome the opportunity to unplug for the weekend and enjoy some time outdoors with OACGC. The Falcons averaged over 18 participants per adventure this fall! The club’s success can easily be attributed to Aiken’s co-advisors, Danielle Boyle and Stephanie Weaver.

Danielle Boyle

I’m from Springfield, Ohio–also hometown of John Legend! My family and I moved to Mason, Ohio when I was 14 years old for my father’s job at Ford Motor Co. I attended Princeton High School, and then the University of Cincinnati. Through my service year with AmeriCorps and the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, I was placed at Aiken! I serve as the CYC Ohio College Guide, providing college access information and knowledge students need and deserve in order to make educated decisions and plans for their future after high school. My favorite memory/adventure of this past fall, was going hiking at the Cincinnati Nature Center! The weather was perfect that day and our students really enjoyed exploring the trails, climbing trees and creating their own signature banana s’mores!

Stephanie Weaver

I grew up in New Jersey until age 14 and moved to Ohio where I graduated from Olentangy High School. I moved to Cincinnati after graduating from Ohio University with a degree in Psychology and Political Science. My first position after graduation was through AmeriCorps as CYC Ohio College Guide. Through this program I was placed at Aiken New Tech 3 years ago and have worked there since. Last year, I took a position with a different CYC program known as Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates. Currently I am a JCG Career Specialist at Aiken New Tech where I help seniors transition from high school to the world of work and help them develop a career path. My favorite OAC memory has been ice skating at Fountain Square. At first, a few of our student could barely stand on the ice and by the end of the day they were doing laps around me! I am excited for all the upcoming trips, especially zip lining!

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|

School Spotlight: Newport HS

Outdoor Adventure Club of Greater Cincinnati is building student relationships, educating students on Leave No Trace ethics, teaching students life skills, and providing opportunities for the students of Newport High School to experience adventures in the great outdoors. Although many of the students are nervous to join the club for fear of the unknown and “wasting” a Saturday, our club is seeing growth in numbers and we have had nothing but positive feedback this year.

Communication is key to successful OACGC recruitment and trip turnout. We spend time speaking directly to students about upcoming trips, print out and hang full color photos of students enjoying our adventures, and encourage club members to ask their friends to join the club as well. In an effort to create a more efficient means to communicate with all students we have created an OACGC Schoology group. The minute a student shows interest in joining the club they are added to the group and immediately begin to receive notifications. Within the group page, sponsors and students can:

• Post invites and RSVP’s to our monthly adventures and club meetings.
• Inform students of items needed for trips and post reminders.
• Post comments, pictures, and questions.
• Post and watch tutorials for monthly adventures.
• Post and Print off permission forms.
• Students can show the significant adult(s) in their life all of this information as well.

Malik Rocker is one of the students that took a little extra encouragement to join. This is what Malik wanted to share about his experience:

“I like the Outdoor Adventure Club a lot. At first I didn’t think that I would like it but, my teacher, Ms. Swank, talked me into joining the club. I am happy she did.

My first time going on a trip with the OAC was when we went bike riding, it was so much fun. I had never been bike riding like that, so it was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed the part where we learned how to change a flat tire the proper way and using the correct tools. I think all students should join the Outdoor Adventure Club.

You only have to commit your time to one Saturday morning a month and let’s face it all you were going to do was sleep all morning anyway. It doesn’t take up your whole day. You can meet new people, have amazing adventures, and learn about stuff you wouldn’t normally get to.

I am looking forward to going on our next trip especially, with Ms. Swank. She is an outgoing and really nice person to be around, she brings joy to everyone (well at least to me), and she is funny.

I think Newport High School’s participation in the Outdoor Adventure Club, is a great opportunity to improve our schools images and let people know that we are great students, who respect themselves as well as the Outdoors.”


School Spotlight: Woodward Career Tech High School

Woodward Career Technical High School: A Perfect Balance

In the classrooms of Woodward Career Technical High School, college-preparatory instruction and vocational education are blended to create an ideal combination.  Likewise, Woodward’s Outdoor Adventure Club advisors, Alison Burns and Tamika Thomas, blend their experiences together to offer students the perfect pairing of challenge and support.

Alison is an outdoor enthusiast who engages and informs students about thrills of outdoor recreation.  Tamika, a newer adventurer herself, reassures students that conquering a new activity is the best way to develop courage, confidence, and grit.  This dynamic duo advises one of OACGC’s largest clubs, thanks to their commitment to providing the perfect balance of support to every adventurer.  Great work, ladies!

2017-01-13T02:59:06+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|

School Spotlight: Hughes Zoo Academy

Cincinnati Zoo Academy – this school is a zoo, literally.  Founded in 1975, the Cincinnati Zoo Academy is truly a unique opportunity for students with an interest in natural resources, animal care, and wildlife conservation. As 11th and 12th graders, Zoo Academy students spend time each day learning on the zoo grounds from zookeepers. That’s right, classes take place at the Cincinnati Zoo and expose students to an amazing array of wildlife. OAC’s Zoo Academy advisor, Katie Kemme, can even see the giraffes from her classroom window!

At OAC, we know firsthand the physical, mental, social, and emotional benefits of students interacting with nature. We applaud the Zoo Academy staff for molding young minds and developing stewards of the natural world.

PHOTO: Zoo Academy advisor, Katie Kemme, and student kayaking on the Little Miami

2017-01-13T02:59:06+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|

School Spotlight – Western Hills HS

The Western Hills University High School is a ‘school of choice’ high school in Cincinnati Public Schools dedicated to the Project GRAD program.  Teams of teachers and students improve student learning through better student-teacher relationships, student accountability, and home-school communication.  Teachers, in conjunction with administration, provide leadership to ensure that all students achieve academic, social, and personal success.

With famous alumni like Pete Rose and Rosemary Clooney, Western Hills has attained a reputation for academic, athletic, and artistic excellence. We’re delighted to bring our program to an institution with such a great history.

2017-01-13T02:59:06+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|