Though Gwen Dildine works as the general manager of Inland Family Dentistry, her family’s practice, her passion lies with Outside Walla Walla, a website she created with her husband, Steve.
The site helps people connect with all the nearby places to enjoy public lands across the Walla Walla Valley and in the Blue Mountains.
After a chance encounter in Bozeman, Montana, Dildine posted a blog about the trip. She and her husband decided to research recreation around the Blue Mountain region, which kicked off Outside Walla Walla.
“There are so many benefits to enhancing outdoor recreation in our region from economic development to health and wellness and beyond.”
She continually thinks about development opportunities, blogs she could write, places to explore, and “cheesy one-liners” for social media, she said.
Dildine’s degree in business management and recreation and tourism from Colorado State University paired well with her responsibilities of managing both a business and an outdoor adventure website.
“My goal was to run a rafting company (despite only ever rafting once). Life happens,” she said.
“I kept a card for a long time that said, ‘If you go down the wrong road, make a right turn.’ I just kept turning, and it finally feels like I’m on the right road. Even though the destination isn’t quite what I thought it would look like, I’m happy to report it is even better.”
Her goal with Outside Walla Walla is to grow it into a dynamic community database giving many voices a platform to share their adventures; connecting people with any number of activities across the Blue Mountain region; and showcasing events, outfitters and groups.
Dildine volunteers with the Blue Mountain Land Trust and currently serves on the board.
“Boards offer a unique opportunity to work with people who likely wouldn’t cross your professional path,” she said.
She enjoys hearing the perspectives of the people working in higher education, agriculture, government, health care and other small business sectors.
“We can all fall victim to ‘silo mentality,’ becoming locked into a tight vision that doesn’t see other perspectives,” she said. “Coming together from different backgrounds, education and experience to further a mission inherently builds mutual respect and therefore quite meaningful and lasting relationships.”
Her son Allen was the youngest person to earn a Blues Crew helmet. Blues Crew is a volunteer trail maintenance group of the Blue Mountain Land Trust.
She said Outside Walla Walla is a family project, and their kids often join them on outings.
“That is how we accurately report if something is kid-friendly or not — we work through the meltdowns to save you a few,” she said.
Their daughter Joanna always wants to go camping.
When Dildine is not cleaning storm drains, handling the accounting, and “playing the hold game to make sure insurance behaves” at the dental clinic, she is out exploring to share her adventures with others.
“We love research and feel strongly about accurately reporting on what to expect while enjoying any number of adventures,” she said.
“This means my desk job sometimes catches up to me when trying to climb 2,500 feet back up a mountain in short order. It also means that my office hours for Outside Walla Walla align more closely with nocturnal creatures.”