You love the outdoors and want to spend as much time outside as possible. You enjoy the continual and ever-changing challenges that climate and geography can bring every day. You love the idea of introducing others to outdoor life…These are some of the reasons for pursuing a degree in Outdoor Education. Most importantly, the student pursuing this degree should have a real desire to better understand the relationship between humans and nature, and the confidence to explore this relationship in the great outdoors.

Outdoor Education majors tend to be students who love learning by doing; theoretical learning is carried out through hands-on application, whether it’s understanding the basics of wilderness first aid, identifying animal tracks, or learning to “read” a river. They build on these skills to further understand, appreciate, and protect the habitat of animals and plants, and work to teach others to do the same.

Ideally, prospective students in Outdoor Education should enter school with a basic level of comfort in the outdoors gained from experiences accumulated by themselves, with family and friends, with outing or camping clubs, or in summer camp or wilderness schools. An added bonus is experience working and communicating with the public, coaching sports, or working as a camp counselor or in some other leadership position. Even without any of this background, however, you will find that enrolling in a degree program in Outdoor Education will provide you with a plan to quickly plunge in and design a path toward your career goals.  Outdoor Education is a broad field––one that encompasses both adventure education and environmental education––and accommodates a myriad of career tracks.

Graduates in Outdoor Education may choose to work as naturalists, park rangers or managers, teachers or administrators in residential environmental education programs, natural resource managers, recreation center programmers, trainers, wilderness educators, EMTs/Search & Rescue team members, and more. Many graduates report that their degree in Outdoor Education allowed them to transition quickly from field work to program positions in a front office, whether working for a private company, a recreation area, or a government entity.

Our own Sterling College graduates who have earned degrees in Outdoor Education have pursued public teaching licensure, have serve as camp directors, instructed and directed programs at Outward Bound, supervised wilderness travel corridors, taught skiing, guided wilderness programs in Alaska, led and directed recreation and after-school programs, developed and taught nature education programs in National Parks, and put their ecological thinking skills to work in an array of other roles.

As an Outdoor Education major at Sterling College, you will become comfortable learning and teaching in the outdoors at all times of year, on foot, on skis and snowshoes, by canoe, in mountains, and on cliffs and challenge courses.

Our Outdoor Education program is intentionally experiential, allowing you to directly engage in learning—and gain the skills you need to lead and facilitate learning—by doing and reflecting as well as by listening. At Sterling College, you will find that meaningful experiences happen both in the outdoors and in the classroom.

Your classes will take place in a wide variety of educational settings from local forests and whitewater rivers to the desert southwest. At any given time you may find yourself traversing Craftsbury’s groomed ski trails, backpacking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, leading groups on the Sterling College challenge course, or exploring the Adventure Paradigm in and out of the classroom. Through these experiences you will acquire the interpersonal, technical, leadership, and pedagogical skills necessary to foster growth and learning.

The Sterling College Outdoor Education major provides outstanding preparation for careers in public or private education, environmental advocacy, adventure programming, and nature-based education.


Filed Under: Admission and Aid Blog Outdoor Education

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