Youth Leader Spotlight: Teen mentor shares his passion with younger kids

Editor’s note: This column from the Eagle River Youth Coalition highlights a different youth leader each month.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy senior Travis Tafoya is passionate about snowboarding. But, getting to live your passion is one thing. Sharing it with others is another. In addition to snowboarding competitively, Tafoya volunteers with SOS Outreach, sharing his love of the sport with younger kids.

“Community service is a vital part of society,” he said. “Volunteering teaches compassion, understanding and humility. Our society has many flaws and I believe that community service is a way of picking up the slack.”

In addition to SOS Outreach, Tafoya has also volunteered for the Vail Mountain and highway cleanups and has been a Thanksgiving and Christmas basket volunteer while mountain biking, hiking and long boarding occupy some of his time in the summer. He is also a member of Trinity Church’s Youth Group, student council and Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Youth Leaders Council.

“My favorite project with YLC was helping at the toy drive with the Salvation Army. It felt great to be able to help set up and give people the Christmas they truly deserve,” Tafoya said.

As a Youth Leaders Council participant, Tafoya has been able to meet students and community members like him, who want to make a difference. It’s also given him the opportunity to bring attention to issues he sees as important.

“One thing YLC helped me tremendously with was learning how to speak up,” he said.

As for the people who have been around him, helping him grow and giving him different opportunities in life, Tafoya is appreciative. In return, he hopes to positively inspire others.

“I hope that other students and the community see teens want to make a difference, want to have a voice, and are willing to stand out and make a difference,” he said. “I hope that we can inspire others to serve the community as well.”

Of course, having a passion helps and can lead to volunteer opportunities.

“I would tell anyone who wants to make a difference in their community that they just need to start with one thing,” Tafoya said. “Find a project or area to volunteer that you believe in and start there. It is easy to help with something you support.”

The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting classes and trainings to community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

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