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College Outdoors: Creating a Sense of Place

May 28, 2013

For more than 30 years, College Outdoors has introduced Lewis & Clark students to the spectacular natural environments of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. From temperate coastal rainforests to arid deserts, our region offers many diverse ecosystems to explore.

This spring, College Outdoors added a new dimension to its programming by embedding environmental education elements into its regular offerings. “We’re shifting our entire approach,” says Julia Huggins CAS ’13, a student leader in College Outdoors who has spearheaded the effort with support from director Joe Yuska. “We want our trips to include interdisciplinary learning opportunities that emphasize geology, ecology, and pertinent social issues.”

In the past, it was up to individual trip leaders to offer supplemental learning opportunities. Now there is an infrastructure and curriculum in place for the entire program. By training more trip leaders to teach, environmental education will become a standard part of the College Outdoors experience.

Huggins believes that as we learn more about our natural surroundings we find a “sense of place” as members of the Lewis & Clark and greater Pacific Northwest communities. Students can explore and enjoy the natural environment in a recreational sense while also gaining a deeper understanding of its complexities. “To fully appreciate and care about our home, our environment,” says Huggins, “we have to understand it first.”

—by Megan Morin CAS ’13

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