As a youngster, Gabe McFarlane was inspired by two things: the outdoors and his dad. Growing up, he and his family vacationed in Bend where he spent most of his time outdoors, snowboarding, rock climbing and taking in the wilderness. Back in the valley, Gabe brought his outdoor skills inside and as a high schooler taught kids to climb at an indoor rock gym.

“I loved showing them what they could do,” he said.

At home, music was always in the background. More often than not, it was his father playing one of his lutes, a popular Renaissance instrument, similar to a guitar. It was a passion Gabe’s dad transformed into an award-winning performance and recording career.

By high school Gabe developed an interest in software and made the practical decision to major in computer science at OSU-Cascades. With the great outdoors nearby, he thought he’d be happy.

But even in class, the outdoors was a soundtrack he couldn’t ignore. He heard wind in the ponderosa pines and the rushing of mountain creeks. He wanted to take friends to trails he had hiked, boulders he had scaled and rivers he had kayaked.

Eventually, he paid attention to what it was he really wanted: a career in the outdoors. 

This tourism, recreation and adventure leadership major is now a junior and vice president of the student Rock Climbing Club. He led the student rock climbing sport team into its first ever competition season in 2019. He’s now working on his resume and looking for an internship. 

In some ways, he has no idea what’s next. But he knows he’s heading in the right direction. And what did his dad’s nightly practices teach him?

“Listen to your passion. Go do what you love,” Gabe answered with confidence.