Silver City, NM – A new program offered by Western New Mexico University this fall has already begun changing the way students experience both WNMU and the state of New Mexico. Having completed three exciting adventures, Outdoor Program participants recently returned from a trip to Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
After positive feedback from participants of the most recent trip, program director Dr. Kathy Whiteman is looking forward to the next excursion. “We had an amazing time out there,” Whiteman commented regarding the Carlsbad Caverns trip. “Some of the students had never camped before, and it was incredible to watch these students realize that they were capable of taking care of themselves within the outdoor environment. All Outdoor Program activities have the potential to challenge students to stretch their comfort zones and confront preconceived notions about who they are and whatthey think they can and cannot do.”
WNMU President Joseph Shepard, who credits the 3.3 million acre Gila Wilderness as one of the University’s most attractive attributes, wanted to provide students with opportunities to access the ‘Gila’ with programs offered by WNMU.
“The Gila is a resource that I would like to see more students enjoy and learn about,” Shepard explained. “Research has shown that many of the careeropportunities available to future generations of students have not been invented yet. An Outdoor Program, challenging students to qualify themselves in the art of leading expeditions into the wilderness is exactly the kind of program I would like to see available at Western.”
Several noteworthy trips have already been planned for the spring 2013 semester, and Whiteman is excited that some of these trips can count for undergraduate credit hours. Future offerings include Introduction to Rock Climbing, Introduction to Backpacking, Expedition Backpacking and Trekking New Mexico’s History with WNMU History Professor Dr. Scott Fritz, as for-credit courses this spring.
An exciting opportunity available to students, staff and faculty during the first week of the spring semester will be a skiing/snowboarding trip to Sunrise Park Resort in Arizona. As many as 30 people can register for the trip. Given the winter conditions common with the season, a lodge will be rented to house people in a little more warmth. A whitewater rafting trip is also tentatively scheduled for early May.
Next summer, the Outdoor Program will be busy working with WNMU’s Office of the First Year Experience to provide incoming freshmen the opportunity to participate in a six-day Wilderness Orientation in the Gila National Forest.
“This type of program has been shown to be a tremendous benefit to students transitioning from high school to college and I am veryexcited to be part of this new opportunity,” Whiteman explained.
As the program matures, more courses will be applicable to specific degree plans, with the hope of eventually developing additional programs of study, such as Parks and Recreation Management.
As with so many activities, having access to the rightequipment is an essential element of outdoor activity. Whiteman knew this when outfitting her program with quality equipment, all of which is available to rent on a first-come first-served basis. A complete list of products and rental prices is available at www.wnmuoutdoors.org with special rates available for faculty and staff. Participants are encouraged to visit the website for more information about upcoming trips and activities, or by calling 575-538-6235.