The love of things outside runs thick in Nick Kovacs' blood -- his dad is a park ranger and his mom worked at a wildlife refuge. Nick also combined his passion with profession by studying wildlife biology at the University of Vermont in Burlington. There he explored the Green Mountain State through hiking and snow skiing.
Yet even the solace of nature couldn't offer Nick the peace he sought, especially when his brother committed suicide.
"I was looking for spirituality outdoors on my own," he says. "But I wasn't getting it."
One day at the student union, Nick met Dan Litchfield, the leader of Lifelines, a part of the Campus Ministry with a unique outdoors emphasis. Lifelines takes students on various outdoor trips, as a way to build relationships with each other and especially with God.
"We aren't just outdoor guides, but spiritual guides," says Dan.
Nick went rock climbing with Dan and also on a snowshoeing trip. After several conversations and times of just hanging out, Nick prayed and received Christ as his Savior.
Nick, 23, graduated but is now back in Burlington to volunteer with Lifelines.
"I'm so passionate about my experience," he says. "I want to help students with their spiritual growth as well as find other people who care about the environment and enjoy the outdoors."
Through his new faith, Nick has learned it's not just nature that offers peace, but the Creator who made it.
"The outdoors is a way to be in touch with God," he says.