Recreation & Outdoor Education

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Why Recreation & Outdoor Education?

In Colorado alone, outdoor recreation contributes nearly $35 billion annually in economic activity, and creates over 310,000 jobs. Colorado's 2014 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) identifies five priority areas to focus on for the next five years, and Outdoor Education is at the top of the list. In the United States, wildlife-related recreation had 90.1 million participants, and accounted for $144.7 billion in expenditures, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 report. The goal of Western's Recreation & Outdoor Education program is to prepare students for a career in this diverse field!

At Western, high value is placed on experiential learning as well as field-based learning. In addition to in-school curriculum, all students majoring in Recreation & Outdoor Education must work or volunteer for a total of 600 hours within their chosen area of specialization within four years prior to graduation. The Outdoor Leadership or Outdoor Environmental Education emphases also have the requirements of a consecutive two-week backcountry expedition with an industry leader,  as well as Leave No Trace Master Educator and Wilderness First Responder certifications. These requirements help our students with job placement after graduation!

In addition to the traditional competencies and critical and creative thinking skills expected of all liberal arts students, those majoring in Recreation & Outdoor Education learn how the overall quality of life can be enhanced by the integration of appropriate leisure and educational activities. As well, students who graduate from the program gain confidence and leadership skills that can be applied in a variety of professional fields. Recreation & Outdoor Education majors pursue careers in many different areas. Options include employment with outdoor and environmental education centers, specialty outdoor training schools, municipal park and recreation departments, social services, land management agencies, military programs, student services in higher education, and commercial guiding operations, among others. With additional graduate work, even more options are available.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Recreation and Outdoor Education Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family.

Share your interest with friends and family:

  1. Email this to your friends or family    Share on LinkedIn    Share on Google+    Twitter    Share this on Facebook

  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.

Profiles

Uma smiles for a headshot
“I feel like our skills would be difficult to teach in a typical classroom setting. It’s difficult to teach when it’s a teacher, a projector and students in the seats."
Brooke Moran smiles for a headshot
"The approach-problem-based learning and experiential learning in the ROE program absolutely foster growth."
Luke Mehall headshot
“My relationship-building in the outdoor industry began at Western."
Megan Yingling
“The Field House is my second home. It’s where I work and where I play.” 
Georgia Adventure Porter
"The biggest stand out to me has been the amount of community involvement encouraged in almost every class."
Eddie Ogle a ROE student
"My time at Western stood out to me because of the way Western works with the local community. Over the course of my time in the Gunnison Valley it really started to feel like home."
Timmy Foulkes
Western showed then gave me a life of amazement, wonder and love not only for the out-of-doors but for a love of the people who continue to push and inspire me daily.
Zoe Smith
I felt like if I went to Western my success really mattered and they were committed to helping me out. It was the best decision I ever made!
Josh Oberleas
One of the most important things that the program taught me was how to lead and how to inspire others to do something that they never believed they could ever do!
Ryan White
Recreation and Outdoor Sports major, Head Supervisor of Intramural Sports
Derek Warner
Western seemed like a perfect fit for me to pursue my love of outdoors and get an education where I can get a career working outdoors while still living in Colorado.
Beryl Sandridge
"With a river, hiking/biking trails, and skiing within easy reach and sun 300 plus days a year, this valley is a hidden gem in the Rockies."
Daniel Mercier
"I figured Western would be a great place to explore my interests."
Zachary Lee
"Western challenges me academically while offering me a unique learning experience in a great location."
Chad Latka
"Forming meaningful relationships with faculty members in the Recreation and Outdoor Education department was paramount for the success of my career at Western."
Alexis Kelley riding her mountain bike
"I came to Western because of all the opportunities it presents." - Recreation and Outdoor Education Major
Cameron Jackowiak in climbing gear
Transferred to Western after three years at another Colorado University - finally found the perfect fit!
Taylor Indrebo riding a horse
"The Recreation degree program offered the hands-on classes I wanted, and Western is in a location where outdoor activities of virtually any kind can be done."
Sidney Bare
Came to Western to stay in the mountains.  Earned my recreation major and business minor in just 3-1/2 years. 
Chris Noah
Lead Instructor for Wilderness Pursuits ice and rock climbing trips and active member of the Mountain Rescue Team while pursuing a major in Recreation and Outdoor Education.
Kyle Juszczyk
Recreation and Outdoor Education major gaining hands-on training and guiding experience through Wilderness Pursuits leading whitewater and climbing trips.
Heather Bradford
... Heather grew up in Vermont, a part time ski racer and a full time daredevil ...
Cody Washka
"At Western I can balance recreation with school work, because of the teachers who care so much and teach so well."
Joshua Bruning
Joshua Bruning, a 2009 Western graduate, is using his Exercise and Sport Science degree as a Operations Assistant with the Denver Broncos.

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309. To find scholarships based on year of study (e.g. - Freshmen Scholarships), please see the navigation to the left.

 Eastman Awards in Recreation & Outdoor Education (ROE)

Eastman Awards in Recreation & Outdoor Education 

ROE Award is Available to:

The Eastman Awards recognize and encourage ROE majors who show diversity and outstanding achievement in the recreation field.

There are 4 Eastman Awards available:

New Student Award

Open to both new freshmen and new transfer students. Students must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and freshmen must also have a 21 ACT or 990 SAT. Students must also show a documented commitment to recreation as their major field of study at Western. Must show outstanding achievement in at least three of the following five areas:

  • Special Recreational Talents
  • Unique Recreational Endeavors
  • Obstacles Overcome
  • Community Service
  • Leadership 
Achievement Award

Available to junior and senior ROE majors with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students must act as an outstanding role model in and out of the classroom and uphold the values of the recreation and leisure profession.  Must show outstanding achievement in at least three of the following five areas:

  • Special Recreational Talents
  • Unique Recreational Endeavors
  • Obstacles Overcome
  • Community Service
  • Leadership
Service to Humanity Award 

Available to junior and senior ROE majors. Must provide documentation of their outstanding service project(s).

Eastman Academic Award

Available to junior and senior ROE majors with a minimum GPA of 3.6 in the ROE program. Students must act as an outstanding academic role model.

ROE Awards are Provided by:

Don Eastman.

Amount: Amount depends on fund availability.

ROE Award Recipients Selected by: 

Western ROE Faculty.

Application:
Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2010 - Wright Gym 209  

Find out more about Western's Recreation and Outdoor Education Program at www.western.edu/roe.

 RESS Student Professional Development Fund

RESS Student Professional Development Fund

Exercise and Sport Science Scholarship is Available to:

ESS and ROE majors who are full-time students at Western. The Student Professional Development Fund is to support professional activities such as professional certification exams, conference attendance, research, or other professional preparation activities. 

ESS Scholarship Provided by:

Alumni Donations 

Amount: Approximately $400 awarded every semester.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western RESS faculty committee  

Application:
Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2010 - Wright Gym 209

Find out more about Western's Exercise and Sport Science Program at www.western.edu/ess.

Find out more about Western's Recreation and Outdoor Education Program at www.western.edu/roe.

 Ernest Degutis Scholarship

The Ernest Degutis Scholarship

This scholarship is available to ESS majors with demonstrated excellence in academics, and outstanding achievement in personal fields.

Eligibility Criteria:
  • ESS Major
  • Junior or Senior Class Standing
  • 3.0 Minimum GPA
  • Demonstrated Excellence in Academics
  • Show Outstanding Achievement in 4 of the following:
    • Special Talents
    • Leadership
    • Obstacles Overcome
    • Community Service
    • Unique Endeavors
Application Procedures:
  • A written letter of application - please include local address
  • Unofficial transcript (may use DegreeWorks)
  • 2 Letters of recommendation from WSC faculty or staff
    • Letters must NOT be from ESS department members
    • At least one letter must be from a faculty member
  • Essay addressing at least four of the five areas listed above

The Ernest Degutis Scholarship is Provided by:

Ernest Degutis

Amount: Amount depends on fund availability.

Scholarship Recipients Selected by: 

Western RESS Faculty.

Completed applications must be turned in to Terri in the RESS Department office in Wright Gym no later than the second Friday of April for the upcoming academic calendar year.

Find out more about Western's Recreation and Outdoor Education Program at www.western.edu/roe.

 Eastman Awards in Recreation & Outdoor Education

Eastman Awards in Recreations & Outdoor Education (ROE)

The Eastman Awards recognize and encourage ROE majors who show diversity and outstanding achievement in the recreation field. There are 4 Eastman Awards available:

New Student Award

Open to both new freshmen and new transfer students. Students must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and freshmen must also have a 21 ACT or 990 SAT. Students must also show a documented commitment to recreation as their major field of study at Western. Must show outstanding achievement in at least three of the following five areas:

Special Recreational Talents
Unique Recreational Endeavors
Obstacles Overcome
Community Service
Leadership

Achievement Award

available to junior and senior ROE majors with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students must act as an outstanding role model in and out of the classroom and uphold the values of the recreation and leisure profession.  Must show outstanding achievement in at least three of the following five areas:

Special Recreational Talents
Unique Recreational Endeavors
Obstacles Overcome
Community Service
Leadership

Service to Humanity Award

Available to junior and senior ROE majors. Must provide documentation of their outstanding service project(s).

Eastman Academic Award

Available to junior and senior ROE majors with a minimum GPA of 3.6 in the ROE program. Students must act as an outstanding academic role model.

Provided by: Don Eastman.
Amount: Amount depends on fund availability.
Selected by: Western ROE Faculty.
Application: Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2010 - Wright Gym 209

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Matthew Ebbott headshot
Senior Lecturer in Recreation and Outdoor Education
B.A., John Carroll University, M.S., Western Illinois University
Phone: 970.943.2115
Office Location: Wright Gym 222
Mark A. Gibson headshot
Chair, Recreation, Exercise & Sport Science Department; Professor of Recreation and Outdoor Education
B.A., Eastern Washington University, M.S., Colorado State University, Ed.D., University of Northern Colorado
Phone: 970.943.7129
Office Location: Wright Gym 224
Dr. Brooke Moran headshot
MEM Graduate Faculty, Professor of Recreation and Outdoor Education; Adjunct Graduate Faculty, Outdoor Industry MBA
B.S. University of New Hampshire; , M.A. Harvard Graduate School of Education;, Ph.D. University of New Hampshire.
Phone: (970) 943-2118
Office Location: Wright Gym 223
Paul Tame headshot
Senior Lecturer in Recreation and Outdoor Education
B.A., University of Western Sydney , M.A., University of New England at Armidale
Phone: 970.943.2292
Office Location: Wright Gym 232
Dr. Jay Whitacre headshot
Lecturer in Recreation and Outdoor Education; Adjunct Faculty Outdoor Industry MBA
B.A., Western State Colorado University, M.A., Indiana University , Ph.D., Indiana University
Phone: (970) 943-2202
Office Location: Wright Gym 231

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 ESS 282 - Principles of Sport and Fitness Management (3 credits)

A focus on the administration of programs within the sport and fitness industries. Topics include administrative theories and concepts, personnel, communication and problemsolving, fiscal management, budgeting, ethical considerations, and program evaluation. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above, ESS 181, or instructor permission.

 ESS 382 - Management of Sport and Fitness Facilities (3 credits)

A study of principles, guidelines and recommendations for planning, construction, and the use and maintenance of indoor and outdoor sports, physical education, recreation, and fitness facilities. Prerequisite: Junior Standing.

 ESS 450 - Risk Management in Physical Activity Settings (3 credits)

A focus on risk assessment and management for physical activity professionals. Topics covered include risk assessment, standard of care, negligence, forms to limit liability, constitutional law as relevant for physical activity professionals, development of a risk management plan, and risk reduction strategies. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing.

 MATH 495 - Senior Seminar (3 credits)

A small group of graduating seniors pursue a practical project necessitating professional levels of problem solving, research, written and oral prowess, critical thinking, and familiarity with core curriculum. Final projects are of high quality, so they can be used by professionals and decision-makers in the field. Prerequisites: senior standing. Corequisite 490.

 ROE 182 - Introduction to Recreation and Outdoor Education (3 credits)

An introduction to the history, philosophy, founders, and principles of recreation and outdoor education, the agencies providing programs, and an investigation of professional employment opportunities in recreation.

 ROE 189 - Principles of Outdoor Education (3 credits)

An exploration of the theory and practice of outdoor education, with emphases on group dynamics, risk management, leadership, Leave No Trace, technical skills, and teaching, which are applied in a backcountry setting. This backcountry block course is offered outside the confines of the regular semester, so check dates before registering. Students who drop the course within two weeks of the start date will not have their course fees refunded. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

 ROE 240 - Alternative Programming (3 credits)

Course participants gain insight into alternative programming for special populations. Students explore case studies, specialized equipment, and profiles of special populations. Guest speakers and site visits will help students understand the intricacies of alternative programming and requisite career qualifications. Field trips required.

 ROE 283 - Leadership and Facilitation (3 credits)

A study of recreation and outdoor education leadership, including leading activities, managerial leadership, and the art of facilitation. Emphasis is placed upon appropriate theories and techniques for varying populations.

 ROE 293 - Outdoor Pursuits Education- Water (with laboratory) (3 credits)

Skill development in areas such as leadership, facilitation, rescue techniques, white water rafting, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking, as well as a focus on environmental education. This backcountry block course is offered in summer only, so check dates before registering. Students who drop the course within two weeks of the start date will not have their course fees refunded. Prerequisites: ROE 189; ROE 283; and instructor permission.

 ROE 295 - Outdoor Pursuits Education- Snow (with laboratory) (3 credits)

Skill development in areas such as leadership, teaching, traveling in avalanche terrain, backcountry skiing, and winter camping. This backcountry block course is offered outside the confines of the regular semester, so check dates before registering. Students who drop the course within two weeks of the start date will not have their course fees refunded. Prerequisites: ROE 189; ROE 283; and instructor permission.

 ROE 296 - Outdoor Pursuits Education- Land Based (with laboratory) (3 credits)

Skill development in areas such as leadership, teaching, rock climbing, mountain biking, and backpacking. This backcountry block course is offered outside the confines of the regular semester, so check dates before registering. Students who drop the course within two weeks of the start date will not have their course fees refunded. Prerequisites: ROE 189; ROE 283; and instructor permission.

 ROE 333 - Recreation and Sport Marketing (3 credits)

A survey of recreation and sport marketing topics: buyer behavior, segmentation, positioning, demand analysis, information and research, pricing, promotion, channels, 'product' policies, destinations, sponsorship, endorsement, merchandising, and fundraising. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of C- and completion of at least 30 credits; or instructor permission.

 ROE 351 - Inquiry into Sustainability (3 credits)

An investigation of sustainability and the interconnectedness of environment, economics, and society. Students are provided opportunities to examine their thoughts and behaviors as they pertain to sustainability. The course examines theoretical and practical examples of sustainable businesses, communities, and other systems. Teaching, applied projects, field trips, and/or participation in conferences may be required. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of C- and completion of at least 30 credits; or instructor permission.

 ROE 364 - Entrepreneurship and Commercial Recreation (3 credits)

An analysis of the types of commercial and private enterprises, along with the qualities of the entrepreneur specific to recreation businesses. The student is also exposed to smallbusiness management practices as they relate to commercial recreation. Case study analysis and field investigation methods are emphasized to provide the student the opportunity to learn through active participation. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of C- and completion of at least 30 credits; or instructor permission.

 ROE 398 - Program Planning (with laboratory) (3 credits)

Equips students with a variety of program-planning methodologies and skills. Emphasis is placed on the planning, organization, implementation, and evaluation of recreation programs. Theories are applied in an experiential setting. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of C- and completion of at least 30 credits; or instructor permission.

 ROE 454 - Human Development and Counseling for Outdoor Educators (3 credits)

An investigation of human development theories enabling students to better understand their own motives in outdoor pursuits and allow them to more effectively program for, manage, and support a variety of client needs. Prerequisite: ROE 182; ROE 189; ROE 283; and one of the following: ROE 293, ROE 295, or ROE 296; and senior standing; or instructor permission.

 ROE 466 - Facilities Management (3 credits)

A study of management, clientele considerations, facilities, outdoor area planning,and operation. Also addressed are personnel, finance, architectural and environmental barriers, plus equipment as related to recreation areas and facilities. Field visits required. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of C- and completion of at least 30 credits; or instructor permission.

 ROE 468 - Leadership and Administration (3 credits)

A focus on the implementation of recreation and outdoor education programs, including planning, management and leadership, administrative duties, risk management, and specialized populations. Practical projects are employed as a means to provide students authentic experience in the field. Field trip(s) may be required. Prerequisites: senior standing or instructor permission.

 ROE 490 - Recreation Philosophy and Ethics (3 credits)

An exploration of recreation philosophy from Plato to Petzoldt and its implications toprofessionals in the field. Designed to prepare ROE majors for the ethical challenges and time use dilemmas of the 21st century. Prerequisites: senior standing; corequisite: ROE 491.

 ROE 499 - Internship in Recreation and Outdoor Education (3 to 9 credits)

A course providing full-time concentration on a specific practical experience at anapproved agency. It allows for comprehensive involvement in an agency program withfaculty and on-site supervision. Prerequisites: senior standing and instructor permission.