Faculty in Outdoor Education

Adrian Owens

Email: aowens@sterlingcollege.edu

Phone: 802-586-7711 x150

Owens thinks that learning to be competent and comfortable outside is a key ingredient to fostering protection of the environment. “Camping and travelling under your own power is a great way to sort out which parts of our daily lives are true needs and which are superfluous luxuries,” he says.

His general teaching style is to present some theoretical background and examples, then put students into a position where they need to apply the theory to a specific situation to solve a problem. This approach can take place on a mountain side, on a river, in the classroom, or on a homework assignment. Pushing yourself to take on bigger challenges, he believes, gives a bigger potential for learning.

One  challenge he’s chosen has been racing on the US Ski-Orienteering team since 2008. He has competed at World Championship and World Cup races in Austria, Japan, Sweden, Norway, California, and Kazakhstan. (Top results include winning US National Championships in 2012 and 2010, finishing 27th in a World Cup Sprint race 2012, and finishing 6th and 9th in age group World Championships in 2009, and 2011)

Ski-Orienteering is mostly an individual sport, but working well with people is crucial for solving environmental problem and team sports, he believes. Vermont style adventure racing challenges teams of two or three athletes to a wild mix of river and flatwater canoeing, mountain biking, off-road trekking/running, swimming, and sometimes rock climbing or rappelling; all dependent on map and compass navigation. Good technical skills, loads of physical endurance training, and teamwork have made it easy for him to dominate 6-hr and 12-hr adventure races in Vermont since 2005. Orienteering races on foot are good ways to practice navigation. Recent top results are age-group silver and bronze medals in long-distance races at the North American and U.S. Championships.

Back in Craftsbury, Owens lives in an off-the-grid solar powered home that he designed and built with his wife, Allison Van Akkeren. He mixes community service with training by biking to scout trail-work needs on the Catamount Trail, and to meetings of the regional municipal solid waste board, and town energy committee. Adrian enjoyed coaching a Sterling College Timbersports team last fall, and will be helping with the new Nordic ski team. He occasionally competes himself in the Lumberjack Round-Up at the Lamoille County Fair.

Adrian recertified as an ACA level 4 whitewater canoeing instructor while exploring class II and III rivers in New Hampshire. If you want a long story, ask about his past canoe trips on the Back River in Canada’s Northwest Territories and his paddle from Wisconsin to Ottawa with Allison.


M.Ed. Environmental Science, Plymouth State University, 2001
B.A. Engineering Sciences + (Environmental Studies minor), Dartmouth College, 1990


U.S. Ski-O National Champion 2012 (1st in sprint, 1st in middle distance)
North American Ski-O Champion 2012 (1st long distance, 1st sprint)
U.S. Foot-Orienteering age group National Championship 2011 (2nd place Sprint), 2013 (3rd place Long), North American Champs. 2012 (2nd Long, 3rd Sprint)
U.S. Ski-O National Champion 2011 ( 1st middle distance, organizer for long distance)
Bitter Pill 12 hr-Adventure Race (1st place 2005, 2006,2009,2010,2013 ) (2nd place 2011)