Cody Barber ’03 spent the summers of his youth in Jackson, Wyo., passing the time at a dude ranch with his grandparents or learning to fly fish. From the get-go, the Tetons lured Barber like a siren song. After college, he packed it up and moved there.
By now, Barber has made a name for himself as one of Jackson’s premier river guides. From March through October, he leads tourists and locals on excursions down the Green and Snake Rivers for Snake River Anglers. He’s built a dedicated clientele. In the off-season, he leads saltwater fishing expeditions to Mexico, helping clients angle for tarpon, snook, bonefish and permit.
Only 25 percent of guiding deals with fishing, Barber said. “The rest is about people. You spend eight hours a day with strangers in a boat. If you can’t connect with them, you’re going to struggle in the profession.”
Barber strives to understand what his clients want from their experience, then delivers it. The key is making them feel welcome, safe and at ease. While he enjoys teaching, he’s been a student all his life. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Barber studied the music business and management. Like fishing, music is among his biggest passions.
“But what I really love is learning and the endlessness of it,” he said. “I’m always chasing after things I don’t know, because I want to know. It’s super valuable for any teacher of any subject to continually make themselves a student again.”
Barber credits Gilmour with making learning fun. His teachers empowered him to learn in his own way and channel his passion for music productively. “I had incredible faculty who cared about me as a student,” Barber said. “There’s no price you can put on that.”
During ski season, Barber brings the joy of music to adults with disabilities through a nonprofit.
“What really clicked for me was connecting with a resident who’s non-communicative,” Barber said. “Within a month of me going there, he peeked outside his room, then he started coming to the music group.”
The man got a bit closer to Barber every week. Now, he sits right next to him. “The power of music literally pulled this person out into the community,” Barber said. “That’s such a cool thing.”