As teachers, we hear and talk a lot about ideas and ways to make extra money. There are good resources, like teachercents.com that are helpful. We also talk about ways to not lose money. Most of us are at least casually aware of scams, like pyramid schemes and shady investment opportunities that abound. Hopefully, we’re also realistic about just how much work, outside of the already incredibly busy job of teaching, that we can sustainably do. Something that does not come up often is how we feel about our “extra” work, if we are good at it, and if it is worth doing.
I have started to look now at the quality of the work we do outside of the classroom. I think that factoring in fulfillment to the cost-benefit-analysis, is an essential part of the equation. I met up again with David Farkas, my co-teacher, friend, and yes… professional athlete to discuss this topic.
Nick: What work outside of your teaching life provides you with both income and fulfillment?
Dave: Well Nick, for the past fifteen years or so I’ve been an outdoor professional, guiding clients in the mountains, skiing, and climbing; along with kayaking down rivers. It’s an incredible profession that satisfies me greatly. First and foremost, the outdoor world is not something I do, but something that is a part of me. Being outside and pushing myself physically is something I HAVE to do.
Nick: Guiding kayaking trips and teaching the skills to help others navigate sometimes dangerous waters sounds like hard work. Does a school year in the classroom make you not want to teach during the summer? Do you have to dig down deep to get the energy for summer work?
Dave: Being able to show others this environment in a safe way, while providing the instruction to succeed at their own goals is incredibly fulfilling. I’m also connecting with incredible people and enlarging my circle of life, which is very important. I grow from working with and knowing my clients. They teach me as much about life as I teach them about outdoor skills. They also become my friends and I admire each and every one of them. Teaching my passion actually energizes me.
Nick: I can relate, I teach one of my passions outside of school, and I love it. It actually jumps starts my weekend. Does your passion help pay the bills?
Dave: Being able to increase my cash flow in a way that is holistic, energetic, healthy and wholesome is an amazing opportunity.
Nick: Besides guiding and teaching kayaking, is there anything else you do to supplement your income?
Dave: Along with guiding and instructing, I am a professional outdoor kayak athlete, so I get to travel the world with my kayak, going places seldom seen by others. The Tribe of athletes and friends I go with is amazing, and the bonds we create with each other priceless. We trust each other, place our lives in each other’s hands, always relish in the moment. Every day is a gift, and I never forget it.
Nick: Who have you been sponsored by, and how does one go about turning their athletic passions into professional sponsorship?
Dave: I’ve represented ZET Kayaks, Kokatat, ATPaddles, FiveTen, Smith Optics, Drift Innovation , Guayaki, Goal Zero, and DJI Creator. All athletic sponsors want you to advertise their products in some way. Every sport is different of course and some more high dollar than others. If I wasn’t a “pro,” I’d still be on the water, paddling hard, enjoying friendships outdoors and connecting with nature. First thing any athlete who seeks professional sponsorship needs is just that, intense passion for your sport that you represent. Companies find that appealing. Sponsorship has allowed me to travel the world, and to experience my sport at a much higher and more challenging level. I make more money however on guiding and instructing. Teaching is a fulfilling profession but one wrought with financial inequities. If you’ve got to work outside of the classroom, like I do, then do something you love, and give it all you’ve got.
Nick: Thanks again Dave.
If anyone wants to see Dave in action, and what a teacher can accomplish in the summer, by focusing on their passions, check out one of his videos.
If you are an athlete, and aspire to achieve sponsorship, take Dave’s advice, and represent your sport first by doing it at the highest level you can achieve and be passionate about it. For a few more pointers on representing your sport and achieving your sponsorship dreams, check out Five Steps to Sponsorship from Active.
Nicholas Philliou, 7th grade humanities teacher in Durango, Colorado