Monday 14 June 2021
Virginia Commonwealth University will offer a Certificate in Outdoor Leadership this fall, which will provide hands-on experience and training for students interested in leadership roles in private and government land management, the outdoor recreational industry, field research, environmental education, ecotourism, and more are interested .
Offered by the Center for Environmental Studies in partnership with the Outdoor adventure program at the VCU, the certificate requires at least 12 credits in courses such as outdoor leadership, outdoor programming and event management, outdoor team building and moderation, expedition planning and first aid in the wild.
“All of these courses are very hands-on and experiential,” said Joey Parent, associate director of Outdoor Adventure Programs, part of VCU recreational sports by doing Student Affairs Department. “Students will meet in the classroom to discuss concepts and theory, but a large part of each of these courses is time outside of the study and practice of what is being taught in the classroom. The students have the opportunity to take part in outdoor activities (backpacking, climbing, white water kayaking), plan their own outdoor events or challenge themselves in the high ropes course. “
Outdoor leadership skills are increasingly in demand and are transferable to a range of disciplines including project planning, approval, risk assessment, group moderation, field skills – such as navigation, best practices with minimal impact, first aid in the wild – and instruction, said Rodney J. Dyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for Environmental Studies.
Dyer cited a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found nearly half of all jobs in the US in 2016 required outdoor work, and many industries with outdoor employment opportunities are projected to grow. The leisure and hospitality sector is projected to see a 6.39% increase in jobs and the most new jobs over the 2014-24 period.
He added that the Richmond area is the perfect place to work in outdoor leadership.
VCU environmental studies students took part in an expedition to Spruce Knob in West Virginia. Photo by James Vonesh.
“[Richmond has been] Voted Best Outdoor City by Outside Magazine in 2012, named a Regional Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and chosen to host the International Whitewater Hall of Fame and the World River Center, ”said Dyer. “Because of its excellent urban outdoor resources, Richmond has begun to position itself as a hotspot for urban and outdoor enthusiasts.”
Guide services, climbing gyms, rafting companies, summer recreational camps, fishing and bike shops have all increased in the Richmond area in recent years, he said. Richmond is also the headquarters of state agencies and nonprofits, such as the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and the James River Association, who hire staff who need to be able , work in the field settings.
Outdoor leadership skills are in demand by many employers, Parent said.
“[Employers] are looking for people who have first-hand leadership experience, ”he said. “Outdoor leadership isn’t all that different from other leadership styles, but one thing that really stands out is your ability to put people into challenging situations. Outdoors there are ever-changing variables that groups must face and learn to deal with. All information may not be available and the results may not be certain. Learning to stay calm and make decisions based on the information available can be crucial. These leadership skills are transferable to many jobs, both outdoors and elsewhere. The leadership skills they learn here can take them far into the future. “
The certificate builds on and extends the previous specialty courses on the Salmon River in Idaho, in Chilean Patagonia and on the James River in Virginia.
“These types of classes provide students with a unique opportunity to be in the wild for extended periods of time and learn through experience,” Parent said. “It pushes people to get out of their comfort zone in many different ways. They work together as a team to achieve goals, learn new skills, and gain a better understanding of the natural world around them. This, in turn, results in a powerful learning environment in which individuals gain a deeper and broader understanding of the topics they are dealing with and their connection. Looking to the future, we look forward to traveling to other regions again and exploring new places as a team. “
For more information on the new Certificate in Outdoor Leadership, please contact [email protected]
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