Alanna’s Journey into Ski Area Management
How Alanna Moe combined her love of the outdoors and her passion for business into a career path.
When Alanna Moe looks back at her childhood, she knows that there were teachers and classes that helped to push her toward what she is passionate about. She also knows that the biggest driver in her eventual career path took hold when she was outside of the classroom, and more importantly, outside.
Growing up, her dad was a mountain bike coach and manager at Buck Hill in Burnsville, and Alanna started participating in outdoor sports like skiing and mountain biking when she was ten years old. She loved being outside and practicing her skills and brought her passion to school, first as part of the Girls on the Run program in elementary school and then to running cross country, skiing, and mountain biking in middle school. Though she did well in school, she found that she just wasn’t excited about the classroom like she was about her extracurricular activities, and even started talking about quitting altogether.
“At one point I really did want to drop out when I got my license and just do what I wanted to do,” said Alanna. “I worked with my parents on some different things that I could eventually do after high school and learned about programs in ski area management. I made that my goal and have worked towards it and stuck with it ever since, and I am glad that I did.”
Sticking with school, Alanna also found other interests including business and getting involved in leadership roles. At Nicollet Middle School, she served on the student council, eventually joining Burnsville Strong and Link Crew at Burnsville High School (BHS). Her passion for business was sparked by another interest, thrifting for fashionable vintage clothing.
“I was very into clothes and was accumulating a lot of cool things but I just didn’t need everything I had,” said Alanna. “I ended up starting an Instagram account to sell the clothes and it grew pretty quickly from something that my friends would shop to a full business that ships to 20 states. It’s pretty cool to go to school and see people wearing clothes that they bought from my store.”
Running a small business as a teenager is no easy feat, especially with such a full schedule of extracurricular activities. When Alanna started at BHS, she found ways to grow her business and learn as much as possible to set her up for success in the future. Classes like Introduction to Business and Marketing and Personal Money Management gave her a solid foundation, while other options were more targeted to her interests.
While taking Sports and Entertainment Marketing, she found that while there were some interesting things in managing a team or a brand, she was even more interested in the hospitality and tourism management side of it that better aligned with her goal of managing a ski resort. Through an independent study with Mr. Christopher Lunde focused on hospitality and tourism, Alanna learned how to manage a hotel, using online simulations to run the numbers, manage employees, and track profits. Starting Your Own Business connected even more as she worked with a group on a business based on her clothing business, creating business plans and pitching the idea to local business leaders who analyzed the viability of the plan.
“Those business classes sparked my interest even more,” said Alanna. “I really like being able to create something that is your own and then be able to produce it or grow it to be available to others. All of my teachers have been great, but Mr. Lunde and the independent study and Mrs. Mayernik really helped me think about what I want and how to achieve my goals.”
Those goals haven’t changed much since middle school, as Alanna wants to eventually manage a ski resort, become a coach, or a combination of the two, preferably in Colorado. To do that, she will begin at Gogebic Community College in Michigan to complete a two-year program focused on Ski Area Management. The program is incredibly hands-on with students living in dorms and working at a ski hill housed on campus. She will also complete a work study program through the ski resort and during the second year, will participate in a paid internship exchange program at a resort somewhere in the country.
“We toured Gogebic and it was the only place I applied,” said Alanna. “The program has about 15-25 students in it and I will likely be one of the few females, but my hope is that we keep progressing and continue to get more women both in leadership roles and jobs in the trades, and that the future will look different. There is progress being made but there is always work to be done.”
The school has a transfer option for students to attend the University of Northern Michigan to roll into a bachelor's in business focused on ski area management after two years, which she is considering. Until then, Alanna will continue to combine her passions for the outdoors, business and leadership. She serves as the Youth Board President for the National Center for Youth Development, an organization centered around empowering youth through cycling that proudly holds board meetings combined with bike rides, and she will continue coaching while also working as a camp counselor. To inspire the next generation of girls like her, Alanna is also mentoring an all-girl mountain bike program called the Little Bellas where she can give advice and counsel to others.
“I have always said that I don’t do the indoors very well and that I just can’t work inside,” said Alanna. “My advice to kids like me who may not see the right path for them yet is to stick with it, get involved and find that connection in school to what you are passionate about outside of school, try different things and dive into what excites you.”