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Outdoor Leadership Program

Higher Education for Adventure Guides and Instructors

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Each year OLP selects 20 students for admission to the one-year certificate program. We seek people who are highly motivated and will be committed to an intense learning experience. We look for people who: love the outdoors, have a sincere desire to teach and lead other people in outdoor activities, have a commitment to environmental education, want to learn a variety of technical skills on land and water, embrace diversity and have a genuine interest in building their human relations skills, show a high degree of motivation for lifelong learning, have a clarity of direction, and express a willingness to work cooperatively to achieve personal goals.

No “typical” OLP student!

Well-qualified applicants to our program are passionate about learning, committed to excellence, enjoy hard work, and have a sense of fun and adventure. Previous outdoor experience is not required, in fact, all of our courses start at the beginner level and then build on students’ unique skills. Our curriculum’s flexible design allows OLP instructors to work with you at your skill level, and help you gain the highest certifications possible relative to your experience and competence in the field. We strive to build a diverse community of women and men. Since the program’s inception in 1980, students have ranged from 18 to 60 years, and have varied greatly in their life, educational and employment backgrounds. They have included first-time college students and people with master’s degrees; they have graduated from high school with GEDs, been home schooled and want a non-traditional college experience; they have had spouses and children, represented various sexual orientations, religious affiliations, cultural and ethnic groups, and have managed a range of differences that have most often proven to be their greatest strengths. Students with learning differences find that our style of “classroom” suits their way of learning. Some seek the satisfaction of working with beginners, while others have later received international recognition for their outstanding achievements in sports like canoeing and kayaking, and mountaineering. People with business experience have used OLP as a means to change careers and start their own outdoor company. Some take a sabbatical from an existing job and seek to incorporate the adventure skills they learned when they return to a school or social service position. Each year approximately half of the students use federal financial aid programs to help finance their participation.

Prerequisites

  • Accepted OLP students must pass Wilderness First Responder (WFR) before the fall semester. WFR courses are offered throughout the country from organizations such as SOLO Wilderness Medicine or Wilderness Medical Associates and is typically offered at Greenfield Community College at the end of each August.
  • Accepted students who have not taken and passed a college English course must pass an English proficiency test before the fall semester. Completion is not required before applying to the program.

Wait List

Each year OLP has more than 20 qualified candidates apply to the program. Deserving candidates may be placed on a wait list and notified of this status. The wait list has proven to be an effective way to fill vacancies when students have dropped out of the program during the summer. Candidates who are on the wait list, who do not gain acceptance to OLP for the upcoming year may opt to rollover their application for consideration in the next academic year.

Reapplications

You will be notified by letter by May 15th if you have failed to gain admission to OLP for the current year. It is not unusual for some candidates to apply several times before acceptance as they work to strengthen their application profile.

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