Expand Your Relationship with Nature
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 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.
What does Outdoor Education at Sterling look like?
Your Outdoor Education 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 be learning a fast step turn on 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. Students who have graduated with degrees in Outdoor Education go on to pursue public teaching licensure, serve as camp directors, instruct and direct programs at Outward Bound, supervise wilderness travel corridors, teach skiing, guide wilderness programs in Alaska, lead and direct recreation and after-school programs, develop and teach nature education programs in National Parks, and put their environmental stewardship skills to work in an array of other roles.
Work College Program
As a member of the federal Work College Program Sterling College employs students in a variety of positions that provide valuable work, learning, and service experiences:
- Nature Mentor- plan and lead outdoor programming in nature connection for children ages 5-11.
- Adventure Coordinator- plan and lead outings for other students.
- Wonder and Wisdom – work with children in an after school program.
- Farm to School Coordinator – procurement of local foods and education for Craftsbury Academy students about those foods.
What will I do as a Sterling College Outdoor Education major?
- Explore education through action, reflection, and leadership in a variety of classes such as Introduction to Learning Theory, Foundations of Outdoor Education, and Experiential Curriculum Design.
- Cultivate your adventure education skills by working with youth on the Sterling College Challenge Course or as a Teaching Assistant for a Sterling College class.
- Develop outdoor technical skills such as climbing, paddling, skiing, fire by friction, and wilderness navigation.
- Hone presentation, leadership, and group facilitation skills by developing and leading learning experiences with classmates and secondary school students.
- Develop alpine expeditionary skills and study the natural history of the Sierra Nevada on a five week backpacking course through the Sterling College Global Field Studies Program.
- Intern at places like Tanglewood 4-H Camp, Green Mountain Club, Earth Knack primitive skills school, Outward Bound, Night Eagle Wilderness Adventures, National Outdoor Leadership School, Earth Walk, Hosmer Point Camps, Camp Manito-Wish , Boojum Institute, Aztec National Forest, and Sergeant Center.
- Develop and complete a Senior Capstone Project that allows you to delve deeply into a specific area of interest within the major.
Sterling College Climbing Wall and Challenge Course
Sterling College has a Challenge Course with low elements that emphasize group collaboration and communication skills, and high elements that help cultivate trust, mutual support, and courage. The College also has a 30-foot outdoor climbing wall, where students practice introductory rock climbing skills before getting out on local crags, and gather on warm fall evenings for recreational climbing. Sterling also has a small indoor bouldering wall where students cultivate technique and strength.
“Going to Sterling gave me many skills that did not necessarily come from a particular course. For example: flexibility, problem solving, and the need to try new things.” —Dan Schieffelin, 2006, B.A., Outdoor Education and Leadership, is a member of the Joint United States/New Zealand Search and Rescue Team at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.