Leader Spotlight: Gordie Swartzman

Leader Spotlight is a monthly blog to showcase our incredible volunteer leadership at The Mountaineers. Meet this month's featured leader: Gordie Swartzman. He is a 37-year member who is addicted to bird and plant identification... as well as the feeling of sharing the places he loves with others!
Sara Ramsay Sara Ramsay
Education Manager
March 29, 2019
Leader Spotlight: Gordie Swartzman

For our Leader Spotlight this month we talked to Gordie Swartzman, a naturalists leader with the Seattle Branch who encourages new leaders to lead out of their passion!

Name: Gordie Swartzman
Branch: Seattle
Where do you live? Seattle, WA
How long have you been a leader? 8 years (member since 1982)
What activities do you lead? Naturalist Group, Day Hikes, Introduction to Natural World Course

Leadership Questions

What inspired you to become a Leader for The Mountaineers?

I have a passion for the natural world. I want to share it with others and give them an opportunity to really look around while they hike.

What is your favorite trip that you've led for The Mountaineers?

Berkeley Park on Mt. Rainier or Mt. Townsend in the Olympic Mountains.

How has your leadership style evolved as you've gained experience?

I'm both more relaxed and more careful about defining trip parameters up front.

What learning experiences you can share with us, such as take-aways from a close call or a near miss?

In the naturalist group we have to accommodate a wide range of physical fitness. We've tried to provide options for this. I've never had any serious injuries on a trip, but I have hiked with many people who did not know their limits. I try to check on people while we hike, because often people don't want to admit they are having difficulty.

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in The Mountaineers community?

Lead out of your passion. Go places YOU want to go. Try out new ideas, like combining snowshoeing with animal track recognition, or family hikes to a fossil area. Be flexible and don't be overly invested in 'getting there'. After all, out in the natural world you can always be curious about what is around you.


I am addicted to plant and bird identification, but keep coming back for the feeling of sharing the places I love with others and with the connection this shared experience brings.

is there Someone that you'd like to see in the spotlight?

Send an email to Sara Ramsay to make a recommendation for one of our upcoming Leader Spotlights!

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Heather Rein
Heather Rein says:
Mar 29, 2019 11:21 AM

Gordie is the best. He is definitely passionate about the natural world and passes that on to his hikers. I’ve learned a lot from him and thoroughly enjoyed his company. Gordie is also extremely inclusive which is really helpful where you are new. I totally look forward to hiking with Gordie more this summer.