Napa teens caught the wanderlust bug Thursday when a group of well-known road trippers stopped by three local high schools in their trademark vehicle — a well-traveled, green RV.
The Road Trip Nation group visited Napa, Vintage and New Technology high schools, also reaching students at the Napa County Office of Education’s court and community schools and Calistoga Junior-Senior High School.
With a TV series and book now under its belt, Road Trip Nation started in 2001, when four friends and then-recent college graduates took on a special mission — taking a cross-country road trip and interviewing people from different walks of life.
Each friend was determined to navigate his or her own career path. And since the original trip, subsequent Road Trip Nation generations have interviewed everyone from a NASA scientist to a New England lobsterman, according to the organization’s Web site.
After touring the RV parked outside of Vintage’s gym Thursday afternoon, Vintage senior and music lover Bianca Ramos said the group’s visit inspired her to plan a girls’ road trip after her graduation in June.
“I’d probably interview artists in the Bay Area, like the rapper J-Diggs. ... Music always brings out something good (in people) and it can make you happy,” she said.
Tammie Holloway, regional occupational program director for the Napa County Office of Education, said her agency started using curriculum from Road Trip Nation early this year. Students in ROP and Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID — a program for first-generation college-bound students — are using the curriculum to explore possible careers. Many of them have plans to interview locals, including fire chiefs and teachers, she said. Students use a Road Trip Nation textbook and incorporate online work into some of their lessons, teachers say.
“We encourage them to go outside their comfort zone. ... They say this gives them the freedom to (explore) what they want,” said Gail Sims, who teaches the curriculum to local high school sophomores and juniors.
Matthew Weiner, a Vintage ROP student, said Road Trip Nation is giving him a yen to interview professional soccer players. A European road trip culminating in an interview with members of a pro soccer team could be in his future, he said.
Giovanie “Pinky” Robledo, a Vintage senior who is running her own clothing line, took a road trip over spring break to interview several professionals, including Ryan Roberts, creator of Ladera Skateboards. She said she felt a kinship with Roberts because he started the Ladera line at about age 16.
“Networking is key,” Robledo said of her most recent interview. “It’s honestly who you know.”
Alex Rangel, a Vintage junior and AVID student, said Road Trip Nation lessons are “inspiring us to do what we want to do, not just what people tell us.” She said she wants to become a crime scene investigator.
Although none of the original Road Trip Nation foursome were part of the group that visited Napa schools Thursday, the group’s employees continue traveling the nation in three green RVs, spreading their message of self-discovery at high schools and colleges.
During an assembly at Vintage High School on Thursday, Road Trip Nation employee Molly Gazin said she did “cold calls” to musicians to ask for interviews and learn more about what they do. It was in that spirit that Dimitri Rivera — a Vintage junior and student tutor in the AVID program — reached out to the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team for an interview. On speakerphone in Vintage’s new gym and with an audience of hundreds of his peers, Rivera reached the Lakers public relations office, making preliminary steps toward getting his interview.
The group’s Napa visit inspired many students, even those unsure of their next steps. Said Vintage sophomore and AVID student C.J. DeGuzman, “My path is still unclear so I don’t really know what I’ll do. ... (But) I feel more inspired now to go on a road trip.”