Barrington alum Voris enjoying protecting life outdoors

  • Barrington graduate Claire Voris, one of the best softball pitchers in school history, is pictured here in the John Marshall Wilderness in Washington state, an area burned out from a forest fire. She was evacuated approximately three times from the wilderness during the forest fire season.

    Barrington graduate Claire Voris, one of the best softball pitchers in school history, is pictured here in the John Marshall Wilderness in Washington state, an area burned out from a forest fire. She was evacuated approximately three times from the wilderness during the forest fire season. Photo courtesy of Claire Voris

  • Claire Voris, a 2007 Barrington graduate, now works for the Great Peninsula Conservancy in Washington state.

    Claire Voris, a 2007 Barrington graduate, now works for the Great Peninsula Conservancy in Washington state. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/3/2020 1:55 PM

Shortly after she earned her master's degree two years ago in nonfiction writing at the University of Montana, Claire Voris was riding horses that pulled mules in the Montana wilderness.

I must say I was not totally surprised when I heard that news.

 

Back in high school, when she was an all-area pitcher for Barrington's softball team, Voris also found time to unwind by riding bareback on neighborhood trails aboard her quarter horse named Babe.

"My mom (Tamara) and dad (Jim) always made it a priority of having a really deep appreciation for the outdoors," said the 31-year-old Voris, one of the finest pitchers to step on the Fields of Dreams' pitching mound.

"And also for the wildlife, the animals and pets in our lives."

Today, Voris is an Events and Outreach Associate at the Great Peninsula Conservancy in Bremerton, Wash.

The nonprofit organization was formed in 2000 to conserve vibrant forests, streams, shorelines and community green spaces to help wildlife and people thrive.

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"It's all for a good cause," Voris said. "The big push out this way is to protect habitats for salmon. It is a heavily populated area of orcas and they really depend on salmon as their primary food.

"We're protecting habitat and teaching kids the importance about getting outdoors and all kinds of good stuff like that."

Voris had some pretty good 'stuff' when she became the only Mid-Suburban League pitcher to throw in the Elite Eight three years in a row.

Her 36 wins in 2007 tied her for second in IHSA history for the most wins in a single season.

She went on to produce a 71-26 career record at Washington University in St. Louis and a .343 batting average.

At Washington, she earned her bachelor's degree in anthropology, Spanish and women and gender and sexuality studies.

After graduating from Washington, Voris worked as a family case manager in Chicago from 2011 to 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was my first job out of college and I found out I needed a break from it," she said." "I wanted to get outside and see the country.

"Sometimes the best way to see the country is on foot because it really makes you appreciate all the changes as you go along."

So Voris spent the next five months climbing the Appalachian Mountains.

"We covered 20,187 miles," she said. "We went the length of the east coast from Maine to Georgia. We brought tents and did a lot of camping for about a half year."

Voris wound up in Washington last November.

"My partner John and I moved here a year ago," Voris said. "He is doing his medical residency in Washington and plans to have a family practice."

Meanwhile, Voris is enjoying her time with the Great Peninsula Conservancy.

"I do the events and outreach program," she said. "I organize the outdoor camp, which is a program for underserved youth. We get out for the summers, going to archaeology dig sites, doing trail maintenance and a lot of service learning. It's a lot of environmental sort of subjects.

"I'm in the process now of rethinking what our summer is looking like because everyone is homebound (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) but hopefully we can get back to the camps."

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