Higher Education Funding For Wilderness Therapy Students

“The continuum of care for participants in wilderness therapy programs has just become broader in both the continuum for graduates as well as the care that encircles and enriches their lives. It is this type of community movement that makes the world a better place.”

Michael Gass, PhD, LMFT, is a Professor and the Director of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Center (obhcenter.org) at the University of New Hampshire.

A RISER is defined as any student who has completed a Wilderness therapy program. Wilderness therapy is understood as the prescriptive use of adventure experiences provided by mental health professionals that kinetically engage students on cognitive, affective, and behavioral levels.

RISERS is a Donor-Advised Fund account through Charles Schwab Charitable. This fund is designed to celebrate the tremendous accomplishment youth have made while on their expedition in the field, and pursue their higher education of interest.


About Us

Supporting Graduates of Wilderness Therapy

Megan has had a lifelong passion for outdoors, education, athletics, and youth. RISERS was inspired and developed after her personal experience of having her child graduate from a Wilderness Therapy program and believes the student’s accomplishment should be widely recognized. Megan is a certified Parent Coach, completed her master’s in Counseling, and is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) as well as a National Certified Counselor, with an emphasis in Adventure Based Psychotherapy (ABP). Megan is an active contributor and Board Member of Sky’s the Limit Fund, which assists families in need of financial support who are seeking Wilderness Therapy for their child. She is a student member of Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA), Friend of Outdoor Behavior Health Council (OBH), National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs member (NATSAP), Association of Experiential Learning member (AEE), a Certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR), and Life member of the FBI Citizens Academy (FBICA).

RISERS Eligibility

Graduated a Wilderness Therapy Program

Graduated from a wilderness therapy program, and pursuing any form of higher education that is relevant for them.

Pursuing a High Level of Education In:



Community College

Trade School

Matt, Open Sky 2009 Graduate

Word that describes my Wilderness experience: FREE
RISERS Scholarship to: Portland Community College

My time at Open Sky was very interesting. It started out with me hating where I was and not wanting to comply with anything that the staff directed me to do. After a few weeks of “fighting back” I finally gave in to my situation and started to face the facts about what I did to end up here and how the experience will be beneficial. I gained a whole new understanding of who I am, and even menial tasks such as making my shelter or starting a fire built up my confidence little by little. I ended up loving my time there and was a bit bummed when it was my time to leave. There is a freedom that can only be found in the wilderness and when we are totally disconnected from the world as we know it. I have been sober for a year and a half now and am hoping to continue this upward trend I have been on. I have a beautiful son and a loving fiancée that have made the obstacles leading up to now all worth it. There are many ways completing my education will help me achieve my personal goals, but the most important to me right now is it will allow me to give my son the life he deserves and take care of him as well as I can. I also think that as a person, we always need to be moving forward and I feel a bit stuck without having a college degree.

Matt Open Sky 2009 Graduate

Lexi, Open Sky 2017 Graduate

Word that describes my Wilderness experience: GROWTH
RISERS Scholarship to: University of Arizona

When I first started at Open Sky, I was not outdoorsy. In fact, I had only found comfort indoors. It was really difficult for me and at times really hated it and remember being miserable. To my surprise, I grew fondness for it. I found that as I progressed in the curriculum I realized it was being out of my own home surroundings that I was able to grow. I was there in a time that it was so rainy, cold, and hailing, so we moved over to the land in Utah. This is the time I remember the most, and actually dream about it now. I learned to have great appreciation for the natural world and experienced how much growth, progress, and healing I was having. This was very difficult time for me, as my dad was gravely ill. This program allowed me to gain closeness I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. The natural world setting was much more intimate and allowed us the quality time together. I realized I was surrounding myself with a lot of friends that were not for me. It was difficult when I came home and went through period of not having many friends, but then found healthy influences. I thrived on my caseload at school and developed consistency and routine that is now leading me into college. I am hoping to go into the dermatology field or do something regarding law. I am excited to continue to learn about things I am passionate about, row as a person, and meet new people. Through my own strength and perseverance and support of my family I am able to pursue my interests.

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