GCC Expands Outdoor Leadership Offerings with Degree in Adventure Education

November 4, 2019

Greenfield Community College (GCC) announced it will offer a new Associate in Science degree option in Adventure Education, starting in the Spring of 2020.

The Associate in Science (A.S.) degree builds upon the long-established Certificate in Outdoor Leadership (OLP).  Since OLP was first launched in 1980, the program has served as a flagship program for the institution and has been accredited by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) since the mid-1990s. The new degree option will provide hands-on learning and leadership opportunities for students who are interested in pursuing advanced education in the field of outdoor leadership and education. The program will help prepare students for successful transfer to four-year institutions where they could earn a bachelor’s degree in such diverse fields as adventure education, recreation, tourism, physical education, and environmental education, among others. Responding to local employer needs, the program will also prepare students for immediate employment in the fields of outdoor recreation, adventure leadership, and environmental stewardship. The theme of environmental stewardship is embedded within the curriculum, empowering graduates to become environmentally conscious leaders.

“Franklin County is the recreation capital of the state and our certificate graduates are hired even before they finish. This program will allow students with an interest in the outdoors to study and explore how our society can sustainably and responsibly relate to and recreate in a natural world that is undergoing climatic change and human encroachment,” said President Yves Salomon-Fernandez, Ph.D. 

The College worked closely with industry partners to develop a comprehensive program that prepares students for a future in adventure education leadership and is responding to industry labor needs. While the program prepares students to work in outdoor centers and organizations, paddling schools, outdoor schools such as the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Outward Bound, graduates may also find success in human services organizations, educational institutions that utilize Adventure Education, and a diverse variety of recreational programs and businesses. Students with previous career skills may combine those with current technical training in business and entrepreneurship to create exciting new opportunities for themselves.

As expressed by Bob Tremblay, Coordinator of the Outdoor Leadership Program “The outdoor adventure industry has been growing and diversifying for many years, and includes many exciting activities such as backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, whitewater canoeing, sea kayaking, wilderness camping, and more.  All of these activities provide multi-seasonal, year-round employment opportunities for our graduates.  Furthermore, our new Adventure Education degree will open pathways for our graduates to fully pursue their professional and academic passions in many diverse areas including tourism, education, outdoor equipment retail and design, youth camps, climbing gyms, corporate leadership training, and wilderness therapy”.

In addition to the existing certificate program and the new degree program, GCC’s students have the opportunity to earn nationally recognized hard-skilled certifications including the Professional Climbing Instructors Association (Rock Climbing Instructor), Association for Challenge Course Technology (Challenge Course Practitioner), American Canoe Association (Canoe and Coastal Kayak Instructor), and Wilderness First Responder Certification. These additional certifications utilize program coursework, making them more attainable to students in the program so that graduating students not only leave GCC with a certificate or a degree in hand, but they can also leave with national certification. The next step is to offer new training and courses to local businesses seeking technical training.

To enroll and learn more about Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Education offerings at GCC, please contact Bob Tremblay, Outdoor Leadership Program Coordinator, at (413)775-1126 or TremblayB@gcc.mass.edu.


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