Badges & Backpacks’ mission is to allow those who protect and serve our communities to step off the streets and into nature. Our vision is to provide police, firefighters, and medical personnel with the opportunity to experience nature therapy.
Badges & Backpacks supports the men and women who make up our local police departments, fire departments, and emergency medical personnel. First Responders endure stressful careers. Often times these local heroes go unrecognized, as do the mental health stresses they live with from selflessly dedicating themselves to the safety and welfare of their communities.
Badges & Backpacks’ aim is to assist the First Responders around the country through a program that provides them the equipment and experience to benefit from nature therapy. It is Badges & Backpacks’ belief that through hiking and other outdoor activities, we can give the men and women who protect and serve our communities the tools to find relief and to “Find Strength in Nature.”
Executive Director of Programs
Executive Director of Programs and Badges & Backpacks’ co-founder Travis Seal, came up with the idea for Badges & Backpacks after personally experiencing the benefits of nature therapy.
Travis is an 18-year Veteran of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and has worked in Law Enforcement for 10 years. He served 2 tours in Iraq and after returning home from his 2nd deployment he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and struggled finding therapy that helped.
In the summer of 2014, Travis hiked a small portion of the Ouachita Trail. It was after this hike that he realized the mental health benefits of hiking and exposure to nature was a viable therapy and provided real mental health relief.
In 2016, Travis and his brother, who is also a Veteran, hiked approximately 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Not only did hiking and being outdoors help him cope with his military experiences but it also helped with the stress related to working in Law Enforcement.
Travis knows the mental health support options military Veterans have and has recognized the shortfall in support for first responders, like police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. This lead to Travis, and his wife Teresa, creating Badges & Backpacks to provided needed mental health support for our first responders.
In the summer of 2014, John hiked a small portion of the Ouachita Trail with the cofounder Travis. As a veteran and board member since the inception, John understands the valuable mental health benefits of nature therapy and would like it to be more accessible to others. In his spare time he enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his wife, kids and their two dogs.
As a longtime friend of those working as first responders, Ronke understands the challenges people in these positions often face. She works in the nonprofit industry and has a passion for helping others. In her spare time, Ronke enjoys traveling, attending music festivals and spending time with friends and family.
With a career in the military and law enforcement spanning over two decades, Tim brings a wealth of knowledge to the organization. During his spare time he enjoys giving back to his community by facilitating women’s self-defense classes and speaking about public safety. He enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with friends and family.
A former sheriff, with over 20 years in law enforcement, Donnie understands first-hand the challenges of a career spent protecting others. He continues to expand his knowledge and is currently pursuing a masters degree. He is an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast who enjoys spending time at the lake with his wife, son family and friends.
Inspired by a passion for helping others, Becca understands the positive effects of nature therapy. In her spare time Becca enjoys travelling, spending time with her husband Paul, and their dog, Bentley.