By Bella Butler EBS Contributor
Not long ago, an image of a glimmering sun shining through a spectacular rock cairn attracted the attention of an aspiring writer. The photograph adorned the summer 2016 cover of Mountain Outlaw magazine, as the cover story about the widowed partners of extreme athletes.
“It felt very real; very sensitive,” said Bay Stephens, who was a Montana State University student at the time. Stephens recalls thinking that it was the type of story he wanted to tell, and believed that the Outlaw Partners’ publications, including EBS, Mountain Outlaw and the Explore Yellowstone guide, were the places to do it.
Stephens officially joined the Outlaw team in June as a staff writer after interning the previous fall. He graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in English and concentration in writing, but it took a few suggestive turns to lead him there.
Entering his first semester at MSU, Stephens sought a degree that was both practical and creative. He fell in love with writing in a freshman class and knew that words would be his craft. In order to achieve his academic goals in a more pragmatic field, Stephens earned a minor in finance to complement his English-writing major.
Stephens believes that this diverse educational background paired with his teachable nature makes him a unique asset to Outlaw. With the help of his coworkers, he’s becoming more proficient in other storytelling mediums as well, such as photography and film.
Before his entrance into the professional world, Stephens took a month-long backpacking trip to Norway, where he “worked in the dirt” at a World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms site. His time there allowed him to address deep questions he had about food and resources, as well as those regarding cultural and global perspectives.
One of Stephens’ main goals for his travels was to learn through building relationships, a practice he is applying to his life and work in the Big Sky community. Stephens still lives in Bozeman and commutes daily, and believes that his news projects, such as covering water and sewer meetings, resort tax and local businesses, are effectively introducing him to the people and goings on in Big Sky.
Having grown up in Vail, Colorado, Stephens’ love for the mountains ultimately brought him to Montana. He frequents the high hills on skis but can also be found touring rivers in his kayak and kicking up trail dust on his mountain bike. The presence in the outdoors is something that he admires about both Big Sky and Outlaw. “It’s cool to operate in an area where a lot of our content revolves around mountains and the environment, rivers and the natural world,” he said.
Stephens looks forward to growing more in his new position and views his colleagues around him as a source of inspiration for improvement.
“I still have a lot to learn,” he said. “But, by the grace of the editorial staff and the whole team at Outlaw, I’ve learned a lot.”