Outdoor Education and Leadership

students in a desert


Bachelor of Arts
Major
School of Education
Four-Year Degree

Overview

Through collaborative and experienced-based learning opportunities in Westminster College's Outdoor Education and Leadership program, you will develop effective leadership, risk management, communication, and outdoor skills. Challenging classes and unparalleled access to wilderness spaces such as Utah's red rock canyons, rivers, and snowy slopes gives you countless opportunities for leadership experience, professional training, and personal adventures—the great outdoors is your classroom and laboratory. Additionally, you'll work closely with faculty mentors to find opportunities outside of the classroom with the Westminster Outdoor Program and the businesses that make up Salt Lake City's thriving outdoor industry.

Who It's For

Regardless of previous outdoor experience, the Outdoor Education and Leadership program is designed for students that have a desire to work with, and empower others, in the outdoors. Whether you see yourself working for the National Park Service, guiding trips to remote corners of the world, or educating others about natural landscapes, you'll cultivate the skills you need to do what you love in the setting you love.

Key Benefits

  • Courses include field-based learning experiences that take you beyond classroom walls, including a semester spent traveling the Intermountain West.
  • Opportunities are available to earn academic credit for nationally and internationally-recognized outdoor credentials. Offerings have included wilderness medicine courses, Single Pitch Instructor certification, Leave No Trace Trainer, avalanche safety, and more
  • Opportunities to gain for-credit professional experience through internships with outdoor industry organizations
  • Faculty mentors work closely with students to create customized plans of study based on students' personal interests and career goals
  • Small classes are taught by faculty with experience guiding expeditions all over the world in places such as the Rockies, Patagonia, the Yukon, India, and Nepal
Jo '20, Outdoor Education and Leadership Student

"The Outdoor Education and Leadership program is much, much more than simply playing outside. The professors and faculty utilize outdoor spaces and experiential education techniques to deepen the level of learning and community we create. The people who make this possible have provided me the space and tools to grow in every aspect of what it means to be a leader, student, friend, communicator, brave voice, and effective educator. I will graduate college with extensive field experience, a wide variety of technical skills and certifications, and as a capable and confident human."

Jo, '20
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Students examine a map

About the Program

In the Outdoor Education and Leadership program, you'll help plan and lead outdoor trips, learning through practice and experience, and honing your leadership skills. Program curriculum explores the concept of place in the natural environment as well as in the historical, political, and social connections and implications of those environments. By the end of the program, you will know how to engage in the field of outdoor education using an understanding of how diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the philosophy and transformative possibilities of outdoor education.

What You'll Learn

  • Become an experienced leader with the ability to facilitate successful group experiences and foster confidence and leadership in others
  • Develop impactful place-based outdoor programming that integrates natural science, cultural history, land management, literature, and environmental studies
  • Develop the ability to teach diverse learners in front and backcountry settings.
  • Develop competence in outdoor skills at a level where you can model, teach, and manage novices in the field
  • Understand the history, theory, philosophy, and foundations of outdoor education
  • Understand diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of outdoor education and recreation
  • Understand, and develop the ability to articulate, how outdoor education and leadership skills transfer into other disciplines
  • Become qualified to work professionally in the outdoor field following graduation

Plan of Study

You'll start by taking introductory-level courses in education, leadership, and outdoor skills. As you progress in the program, you'll take upper-level courses and choose electives that match your interests and career goals, including courses related to media, policy, and more. Additionally, you will be required to complete an internship.

You will start participating in immersive field experiences as early as your first year at Westminster. One of these experiences, the Outdoor Education and Leadership Field Semester, takes you off campus and into the field for an entire semester between your sophomore and senior year. During the 75-day field-based experience you will apply key skills and concepts while earning credit for a variety of courses as well as some certifications.

In addition to the field-based courses and global learning programs offered at Westminster, including May Term Study Experiences, you are encouraged to take advantage of external study abroad programs and international research programs, such as:

 


Sample Courses

Outdoor Leadership

Learn all aspects of planning and implementing an institutional outdoor trip and develop the skills necessary to effectively lead and manage participants in a wilderness setting, including basic wilderness camping and travel skills and leadership skills (communication, judgment, and decision-making).

Wilderness Education

Take on a significant role in planning and implementing an expedition, becoming highly involved in leadership, teaching, ration planning, assessment of group abilities, evaluation of group goals, hazard evaluation, and equipment needs. Through this course, you'll explore the concept of wilderness by traveling though wilderness spaces and reading and reflecting on course materials.

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Career Opportunities

The Outdoor Education and Leadership program prepares you for the career of your choice through collaborative and experience-based learning opportunities and the ability to customize your plan of study. Graduates find jobs in areas such as education, land management, eco-tourism, wilderness therapy, camps, community recreation, and more. Some graduates also choose to further their education in graduate school.

Potential Careers

  • Outdoor educator
  • Public land manager
  • Wilderness medicine instructor
  • Field instructor
  • Outdoor program coordinator
  • Park ranger
  • Copywriter for outdoor companies
  • Field marketing manager
  • Outdoor product developer
  • Wilderness therapist
  • Professional guide
  • Resort or camp manager

Student Success

Outdoor Education and Leadership graduates have begun careers with companies and organizations such as:

  • National Outdoor Leadership School
  • National Park Service
  • Utah Avalanche Association
Amanda Sevigny '18, Outdoor Education and Leadership Alumni, Photo Credit Alex Mager ‘17

“The Westminster Outdoor Education and Leadership Program helped me take my passions and turn them into a profession. As I guide my students through adventure therapy outings, I am able to pay forward the opportunities for exploration, learning, and growth that the Westminster faculty gave me.”

Amanda Sevigny, '18, psychology major, Outdoor Education and Leadership minor (photo credit: Alex Mager '17)

Other Outdoor Education and Leadership Programs

The Outdoor Education and Leadership program can also be taken as a minor, which is a great supplement to other Westminster programs, including:

Programs Related to Outdoor Education and Leadership

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Learn More About the Outdoor Education and Leadership Program

Check Out the Outdoor Education and Leadership Department

Tuition and Aid

There's No Better Investment Than You

Westminster College knows you want an education where you matter—a place that will serve as a launchpad for a successful career and a meaningful life. Westminster will work with you individually through every step of the financial aid process. From scholarships to grants and loans, Westminster helps you make it happen.

With the highest percentage of students who complete one or more internships in the state, Westminster students hit the ground running with real-world experience. Plus, 90% of students were either employed or attending graduate school within 5 months of graduating. With a Westminster degree, you don't have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling life.

Learn About Tuition

You’ll be automatically considered for scholarship and grant opportunities.

In addition to general merit scholarships, there are other scholarship programs to support you throughout your time at Westminster.

Check out scholarships

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