Welcome to the Mitch Underhill Mountain Fund

Welcome to the Mitch Underhill Mountain Fund! The Fund’s mission is to provide scholarships and funds that support exploration and learning through adventures in the mountains.

In September 2013, at 34 years old, Mitch Underhill unexpectedly passed away. His family, friends, and the Lake Tahoe community lost a great man—a father, son, husband, brother, and public servant. Mitch was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe and was well known and loved by his community and beyond. In turn, Mitch loved Lake Tahoe and its people, and after traveling the world, he always said his favorite place to be was in the Sierra Nevada mountains—his home. He left Tahoe briefly to earn his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Westmont College in Montecito, CA and to become a licensed Paramedic. Upon his return home to Tahoe, Mitch was hired as a U.S. Forest Service backcountry ranger for a season, then ultimately as a paramedic firefighter with Lake Valley Fire Protection District in the Fall of 2005.


Mitch loved his job as a paramedic firefighter and he felt honored to serve his community. He was compassionate, gentle, and kind on and off the job. He enjoyed the camaraderie that the fire service provided and was close to his Lake Valley family. His favorite calls on the job were in the backcountry—aiding a dehydrated hiker at the top of Horsetail Falls, a lost skier out in Hope Valley, or an injured climber on the side of Lover’s Leap. As a skilled climber, Mitch led the district’s rope rescue program, and even when not on duty was called for advice on climbing or cliff rescues. He was exceptional at navigating the wilderness. He not only knew these mountains like the back of his hand, but he also had an incredible sense of direction, intuition, and endurance.

Mitch loved sharing his passion for Tahoe and the mountains with his young sons, Mason and Cedar. He often said he wanted to teach youth “the ways of the mountains” and helped instruct fire science/academy and rock climbing courses through Lake Tahoe Community College.

For all of these reasons, Mitch was a true inspiration to all who knew him. The goal of Mitch’s fund is to continue this inspiration by providing opportunities to those passionate about their field and Lake Tahoe. This vision would be made possible through scholarships to Lake Tahoe Community College students enrolled in the Wilderness Education or Fire Science Programs.

Learn more about Mitch.

Donate to the Mitch Underhill Mountain Fund.

Information on Lake Tahoe Community College scholarship criteria and where to apply.

Thank you in advance for your support and to all who made the fund possible: David Safanda, Hanna Bernard, Darcie Goodman-Collins, Todd Offenbacher, Damion Estrada, Leona Allen, and Nancy Harrison.

2018 Scholarship Winner: Kyle Sullivan

I had the honor of presenting Kyle Sullivan with the 2018 scholarship award at the LTCC luncheon in June. As we sat and waited for his name to be called, with tears in his eyes, Kyle told me the heartwarming story of howMitch inspired him to keep working toward his dream of becoming a firefighter. Kyle was volunteering with Lake Valley Fire and struggling with an injury and life challenges and Mitch pumped him up and kept him moving toward his goal. I love how even now, 5 years later, I am still hearing stories of how Mitch inspired and affected others lives so deeply. It is why I started this Fund in Mitch’s honor.

Kyle is a born and raised local who is committed to serve his community in the emergency medical profession. He has completed three degrees at LTCC including Fire science, Spanish, and Liberal Arts with a GPA of 3.9. He plans to continue his education as a paramedic and serve in our local Fire Department, including relief work in other countries.

Kyle is the perfect fit for our scholarship with his devotion to the fire service and our community. Congratulations Kyle!

2017 Scholarship Winner: Andrea Wagner

Andrea Wagner was the recipient of the 2017 scholarship which was made possible by YOUR donations to the Mitch Underhill Mountain Fund.

Andrea is on track to graduate in June with an Associate’s Degree in both Wilderness Education and Environmental Technology and Sustainability. For the fall quarter, she made the President’s List with a 4.0 GPA!

Andrea benefitted from the scholarship this fall when she attended a work experience field trip to learn about internships in wilderness and environmental science.

Andrea commented, “It took the intimidation factor away to get an inside look at the environmental agencies in Tahoe and talk with staff. I learned what they do and what would be a good fit for me.”

Not only is Andrea a scholarship recipient, she is already paying it forward and donating to student scholarships! Building on her LTCC education, she plans to continue on to Sierra Nevada College or University of Nevada Reno for a bachelor’s degree with the ultimate goal of living in the Tahoe Basin and working for one of the environmental agencies here.

2016 Scholarship Winners

In June, the first ever Mitch Underhill Mountain Fund scholarships were awarded to two very deserving graduates of the LTCC Fire Academy, Sarah DeVore and Daniel Lipscombe.

As both a Wilderness Education major and Fire Academy graduate, Sarah’s passion for Tahoe, the wilderness, and our community is what earned her this scholarship. Sarah is also a climber and lover of the outdoors, and in her words “I have found what brings me alive, how the wilderness transforms individuals, and the amazing strength and beauty found in the outdoors.”

Daniel’s story resonated deeply with the Fund selection committee. Daniel lost his father in 2014. He struggled during the year of this great loss and his studies suffered, but the following year he brought his grades back up to straight As. The fact that Daniel lost his father and still was able to continue with school and his ambition of becoming a firefighter, is inspiring. In his words, “I know in my heart that it would make him proud to see me achieve my dream of becoming a firefighter, and dedicating my life work to helping people in need.”

This scholarship is about creating opportunities and this year’s recipients represent exactly what the Mitch Underhill Mountain Fund is all about. Both Sarah and Daniel are entering paramedic school in the Fall and hope to become Firefighters in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Best of luck to them in their careers!

Thank you to Leona Allen, Damion Estrada, and Perry Quinn for helping select this year’s winners. We had many excellent applicants and it was a tough decision. And thank you to our generous donors! Without you these scholarships would not be possible.