GCC to offer degree in adventure education starting next spring

  • Greenfield Community College is expanding its outdoor leadership programs by offering an associate’s degree in adventure education. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/13/2019 8:16:41 AM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College (GCC) is expanding its certificate in outdoor leadership beginning next spring by offering an associate’s degree in adventure education.

The certificate program was launched in 1980 and has served as a flagship program for GCC, receiving accreditation by the Association for Experiential Education in the mid-1990s. The new degree option will provide hands-on learning and leadership opportunities for students who are interested in pursuing advanced education in the field of outdoor leadership and education.

According to Stacy Metzger, GCC’s chief communications and marketing officer, the program will help prepare students to successfully transfer to four-year institutions where they will then be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in fields like adventure education, recreation, tourism, physical education and environmental education.

The theme of environmental stewardship is embedded in the curriculum, Metzger added, which will empower graduates to become environmentally conscious leaders.

“Franklin County is the recreation capital of the state and our certificate graduates are hired even before they finish,” GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernandez said. “This program will allow students with an interest in the outdoors to study and explore how our society can sustainably and responsibly relate to and recreate in a natural world that is undergoing climatic change and human encroachment.”

The college worked closely with industry partners to develop a comprehensive program that responds to industry labor needs, Metzger said.

While the program prepares students to work in outdoor centers, paddling schools and outdoor schools, including the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, graduates may also find success in human services organizations, educational institutions that use adventure education and a variety of recreational programs and businesses, she said.

“The outdoor adventure industry has been growing and diversifying for many years and includes many exciting activities, such as backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, whitewater canoeing, sea kayaking, wilderness camping and more,” said Bob Tremblay, coordinator of the Outdoor Leadership Program.

“All of these activities provide multi-seasonal, year-round employment opportunities for our graduates,” Tremblay continued. “Furthermore, our new Adventure Education degree will open pathways for our graduates to fully pursue their professional and academic passions in many diverse areas including tourism, education, outdoor equipment retail and design, youth camps, climbing gyms, corporate leadership training and wilderness therapy.”

In addition to the existing certificate program and the new degree program, students have the opportunity to earn nationally recognized hard-skilled certifications from the Professional Climbing Instructors Association (rock climbing instructor), Association for Challenge Course Technology (challenge course practitioner), American Canoe Association (canoe and coastal kayak instructor) and wilderness first-responder certification.

The additional certifications use program coursework, making them more attainable to students in the program so that graduating students not only leave GCC with a certificate or a degree, but with a national certification, if they choose.

To enroll or learn more, contact Tremblay at 413-775-1126 or email him at: tremblayb@gcc.mass.edu.

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