My name is Aaron Rice. In 2012 I graduated from the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources with a degree in Environmental Science and a concentration in Assessment and Analysis along with minors in Chemistry and Computer Science.
Pre and post-graduation in 2012, I spent the following summer working at the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative (VMC) as the Data and Web Manager. At the VMC I was responsible for a wide array of projects. I maintained and collected data from weather stations around Vermont on Mount Mansfield and Lake Champlain. I also collected atmospheric deposition data from the air quality station at The Proctor Maple Research Center following strict data collection procedures (ie NADP). Having a background in Environmental Science and Chemistry allowed me insight into the data collection as well as the mechanisms behind the processes. In addition to field work I was in charge of maintaining a large MySQL database linked to the VMC website. Having an additional background in computer science let me combine my understanding of the dataset with my technical knowledge of how the computer functioned to produce clean, understandable, and well organized data for the Vermont public to view and download.
The following year I was in Boulder, Colorado working for GroupHigh, a tech startup, as a Big Data Software Engineer. At GroupHigh, I challenged myself to learn more about software engineering and working with a small group on a big project that we were passionate about. I can get into the technical details of my job at GroupHigh, but for this job it’s doesn’t seem applicable.
The next few years I spent in Alta, Utah. The initial plan was to take a break from my normal life and be a ski bum for a year or two. That is what the first few years looked like, but I soon became anxious for more. In the summer of 2015 I was doing part-time contract work for both GroupHigh and The VMC and preparing to become a professional skier and attempt to break the world record from most human-powered skiing in a calendar year. I will skip much of the details of my past year, but in short I traveled the world and hiked to ski 332 days in 2016 and skied 2.5 million vertical feet which set the new record for most uphill and downhill skiing in a year. If you are curious to learn more you can visit my website or my Instagram account where I documented my journey @airandrice.
Passing over the physical details of last year, there was an immense amount that I learned from the whole process. I set a goal that was attainable but ambitious and had the focus and drive to dedicate every single day for a full year to achieving that goal. Over the summer and fall of 2015 before I started skiing, I essentially started a company from scratch to promote my project. I solicited sponsors by writing proposals and working out contracts. Once the year was in motion, I had obligations to my sponsors to write blog post and create content about my project and do so in a timely manner while still skiing 8-10 hours a day.
All of this is to say that the past two years have been about as far from being a “ski bum” as possible. I spent the summer of 2015 working contract jobs and starting my own business. In 2016 I was more focused on reaching my goal than I have been in anything else in my life. After completing my project a few months ago, I have been recuperating. This process has been almost as difficult as the year and I am still suffering from the physical stresses the year put on me. I have also reevaluated my values some over the past year. I have had an amazing time skiing all over the world and I have amazingly enough found a way to do so economically. However, long term I don’t see a way to sustain myself as a professional skier and I am ready to take all my energy and redirect it towards a career.