Outdoor Education

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About Our Outdoor Education Program

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No doubt about it.  Idaho State University is one of the nation's leaders in outdoor recreation.  Our outdoor recreational program has been awarded the David J. Webb Program Excellence award, which is the highest award given to a university program.  Through the years, outdoor activities at the university have been featured in Paddler, Outside, Climbing and other national outdoor periodicals. 

Now, Idaho State University is proud to unveil a new degree emphasizing Outdoor Education.  Based on a foundation built over a thirty-seven year period, the Outdoor Education emphasis is a combination of high quality instruction, challenging course work, and an innovative curriculum.

And what a place to get an outdoor education degree!  Idaho State University is in the epicenter of some of the finest outdoor resources in the country.  Within an easy drive are:  Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Craters of the Moon, City of Rocks, and the great powder ski areas of the Wasatch Mountains.  And just right outside the city limits of Pocatello are dozens of great mountain biking trails, a Yurt system for overnight stays, and back-country skiing that's out of this world.

Want to learn more?  Read on . . .

Quality education is standard at Idaho State University.  The Rock Climbing and Mountaineering courses are taught by American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) certified instructors.  Kayaking, Kayak Touring, and Swiftwater River Rescue courses are taught by American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructors. 

The importance of taking care of our environment is emphasized through Leave No Trace (LNT) courses instructed by a Master Trainer; class participants become certified as LNT Trainers. One requirement of the outdoor emphasis is to become certified in wilderness medicine.  We offer either Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). 

Idaho State University is home base for the National Outdoor Book Awards--the largest and most prestigious outdoor book award program in the nation.  It was founded by Ron Watters, who teaches our Outdoor Literature courses.

Many of the required and elective courses for outdoor education are taught in the field, in the environment where students will be working and educating in the future.  A key to being a successful outdoor educator is having the ability to teach others how to succeed in difficult situations.  With practicum and leadership experience implemented through experiential education, students gain the skills needed for problem solving and group management. 

Idaho State offers the complete package to prepare students for a career in the outdoor industry: wilderness medicine, experience teaching through practicum and leadership, leave no trace certification, risk management and an area that enables students to walk out the door and build their resume.  Graduates will have a competitive advantage for careers due to the quality instructors, experiential education, and phenomenal location only Idaho State can provide.

Emphasis & Minor Requirements

Idaho State University's Sport Science and Physical Education Department offers an Outdoor Education emphasis and minor. Visit the SSPE online Academic Catalog for information or download the files below for a list of requirements. Contact the SSPE department at 282-2657.

Download Files:

Outdoor Education Emphasis
Outdoor Education Minor

Outdoor Education classes & workshops being offered: Class Schedule Fall 2015.

Experiential Education

There's nothing like experience when it comes to finding a position in the outdoor recreation field. That's why there is an emphasis on an experiential education component in the outdoor degree program. This enables student to become more actively involved in the learning process. Experiential education is also a process of actively engaging students in experiences that have real consequences. Our courses and instructors allow students to discover the joys of facing genuine challenges and overcoming them.

Students have the opportunity to have a twofold learning experience by combing technical or hard skills along with soft skills.  Soft skills are those that involve teaching and leading. In the Outdoor Leadership course, for example, students learn about group management and problem solving skills. Students then have the opportunity to apply those skills by organizing and leading their own outdoor trip and supervising a community conservation project.


Where do ISU’s field courses take place?

Depending on the type of class, you may find yourself kayak touring in Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park.  Or you may take a backpacking trip in the desert of southern Utah or Sawtooth range near Sun Valley, Idaho.  Imagine yourself whitewater kayaking near Jackson Hole, or the famous Payette and Salmon rivers of Idaho.  Like winter activities?  You won't have to go far.  Skiing and Snowboarding classes are held at Pebble Creek 20 minutes from campus.  We can't emphasis enough what a great spot Pocatello is for outdoor enthusiasts.  The Caribou-Targhee National Forest surrounds the town, and in minutes you can be on public land to hike, bike, ski, and climb to your heart's content.

What employment opportunities are available for ISU Outdoor Education Graduates?

Outdoor Education is a unique degree offering a wide variety of careers depending on your areas of expertise.  The military offers employment opportunities in it’s Morale Welfare Recreation (MWR) program.  Recreational jobs are available in public land agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest, Park Service and Fish and Game.  Other possible careers may include working for the youth programs, city parks and recreation departments, wilderness therapy, outdoor equipment manufacturing, and commercial guide services.

Do I graduate with a bachelor’s degree?

Outdoor Education is an emphasis area under Sports Science and Physical Education through the College of Education.  The coursework has been designed so that, if desired, you can obtain a second major.  This opens up wider opportunities when you look for a job after finishing college.  Getting a degree in a natural science discipline such as geology, biology, or botany is a natural fit with the outdoor education degree, but you can also get a degree in education, mass communication, or any other field that tickles your fancy.

Do I receive certifications in your program?

Yes.  One of the degree requirements is a Wilderness Medicine course and you can be certified in either Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid.  The Leave No Trace (LNT) course certifies you as an LNT trainer.  There is also an opportunity for advanced paddlers to receive their ACA certifications. 

Can I talk to someone from the program to make sure this program is for me?

If you have questions specifically about the Outdoor Education program please request a brochure by clicking on the “Send Me Information” link above.  Prospective students are more than welcome to call our office and speak to one of our student advisors.  Call our office Monday through Friday between 10 am - 6 pm at (208) 282-3912 or e-mail one of our advisors at dayljust@isu.edu or joycpete@isu.edu.  The best way to learn about a university is to come see it yourself.  Schedule a campus visit today and find out more information about Idaho State by visiting this website. http://www.isu.edu/prospect.shtml

More Details on Our Location

At Idaho State University, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, ski/snowboarding, hiking, and yurt access are available within twenty minutes from our campus.  Located just five minutes from campus is Ross Park's basalt cliffs with over 115 routes that offer climbs for every ability level. Ross Park is so close that students can climb before, in between, or after class.  Ross Park is home of the Pocatello Pump, the longest running climbing competition in America.  Drive only a couple of hours to tour Yellowtone or Grand Teton National Parks.  You can climb in the Tetons, kayak on the Snake or ski Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, or in the beautiful backcountry the mountains provide.  Head west to Sun Valley to view the breathtaking jagged peaks and high mountain lakes of the Sawtooths.  This area provides an ideal setting for a backpacking classroom.  The Salmon River, one of the premier recreational whitewater rafting and kayaking rivers of America, provides a paddlers’ paradise to ISU students and staff.  Take a climbing class or go on a daytrip to the granite crags of internationally recognized City of Rocks.  The classic routes at the “City” offer something for everyone.  Head south to the mountain resorts of northern Utah and desert country of southern Utah.  Overall Idaho State offers a diverse learning community for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Because of Idaho State’s location it can offer the experiences needed to pave your way to a successful career in the outdoor industry.  ISU courses teach students how to successfully build an experience detailed resume, and they provide students with ample opportunity to accumulate personal experience through classes, trips, and being in close proximity to outdoor resources.  As new skills are developed students can walk outside and use them.

Get more information about outdoor venues in our vicinity by clicking on a link below:

Castle Rocks

2 hour drive from Pocatello - Information, more Information

City of Rocks

2 hour drive from Pocatello - Information, more Information

Grand Teton National Park

3 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Jackson Hole

2.5 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Massacre Rocks

45 minute drive from Pocatello - Information

Moab, Utah

6 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Payette River

6 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Ross Park

5 minute drive from Pocatello - Information

Salt Lake City

2 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Salmon River

6 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Sawtooth Mountain Range

4 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

Sun Valley

3 hour drive from Pocatello - Information

West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park

2.5 hour drive from Pocatello - Information