By Callie Stevens, Staff Writer
Callie Stevens is a senior Outdoor Leadership major. This year she will give readers a walk through the adventures, lessons and experiences of an OL major.
As a new year begins, exciting things are going on in the Outdoor Leadership program. The OL program is welcoming its first senior class and the second-ever junior-level “Discovery Semester,” an immersive experience centered on outdoor leadership coursework. This is the first year that the OL program has had upperclassmen, since the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS) approved Young Harris College to offer a bachelor’s degree in OL.
Because of this, the seniors have an engaging semester in front of them. We are enrolled in both “Wilderness as a Metaphor” and a senior seminar. In “Wilderness as a Metaphor” we read and discuss literature in the outdoor community and learn to make connections between lessons people can experience while in wilderness settings.
In the senior seminar class, we will start preparing for an internship during the summer by creating resumes and critical documents. In both of these classes, we are going on several trips to conferences and festivals. The largest of these are a storytelling festival inTennesseeand the Adventure Education Conference atNorthGreenvilleUniversity. These conferences are going to be fun and educational for me because we will meet a lot of people that could be future employers in the outdoor community. This year should be quite interesting for seniors.
The junior “Discovery Semester” is broken into four classes consisting of group development, water pursuits management, challenge course management and land pursuits management. These classes adhere to a block schedule, meeting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each class is three to four weeks long, beginning with group development.
The classes take a toll on students mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. The “Discovery” group went on their first trip last weekend, where they went whitewater rafting, rock climbing and camping, kicking off what promises to be a semester filled with a lot of learning and adventure.
As a new year continues, I am excited to see what unravels in my senior year. Whether it is my own adventure in or out of class or following the juniors in their “Discovery,” I hope that this year is filled with excitement, exploration and education.
By Shannon Weaver, Staff Writer
The Student Government Association (SGA), held its first meeting of the year on Aug. 17. During the meeting, SGA discussed several upcoming events including two Georgia Senators participating in a town hall meeting and the return of the Last Lecture series. The agenda also included a proposal on behalf of the outdoor leadership majors and plans for freshman SGA elections.
SGA President Emalyn Cork announced that two United States senators, Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga), are coming to YHC on August 30. They will be appearing for one hour at the Recreation Center to answer questions. All YHC faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend the event, which begins at 2 p.m.
In other event-related news, the first of the “Last Lecture” series of the year will be hosted by the recently retired Chair of Music at YHC, Benny Ferguson. The date and time of the lecture are still undetermined. “Last Lectures” are given by a YHC faculty member to the campus community as an opportunity to give the speaker a chance to speak about what he or she would say if it were the last time speaking to a student audience.
Also during the meeting, Zach Lathan, a member of the senior senate, proposed the SGA sponsor the mandatory conference fee for the senior outdoor leadership majors. Senior outdoor leadership majors are given this conference fee, which is not included in tuition costs, to help pay for travel accommodations and equipment for their excursions. Lathan’s proposal was turned down, but there is discussion among SGA members about starting a scholarship fund for similar conferences.
On September 20, the SGA will be having elections for the Freshman Senate. Other open positions include slots on the sophomore, junior and senior senates. Please see SGA officers about where and when to sign up.
By Stephanie Sexton, Staff Writer
The Majors Fair was held on Thursday for Young Harris College students. It was held in Enotah Hall on both the main and second levels.
“The program [Majors Fair] is directed to all undecided students as well as to decided students who still may be uncertain about their choice of major or looking at options for minors, etc. The intent of this program is to provide a centralized opportunity for students to investigate various curricular and career options in one place at one time,” said Niki Fjeldal, director of orientation and first year experience.
The majors and minors that set up tables in Enotah Hall were: music, theatre/musical theatre, history, English, biology, outdoor leadership, astronomy minor, communication studies, business and public policy and education and math, which will be proposed in 2011.
The set-up was very easy. The majors, minors and groups were put in one large semi-circle on the bottom floor. A few majors or minors were set up on the second floor, and some were set up outside. Each table had a pamphlet about the major, minor or group and other brochures, videos and papers for students to read over.
While talking with Danae Turchyn, instructor of outdoor leadership and assistant director of the outdoor leadership center, Turchyn stated that, “one of the biggest things for us right now is that we went from being called outdoor education to outdoor leadership.”
This change actually took place the day of the Majors Fair, and it is a big step for the program, as it becomes one of the majors offered to YHC students and prospective students.
All professors that were present were nothing less than excited about the Majors Fair. Each professor seemed enthusiastic about sharing information to students about their degree program.
By Callie Stevens, Staff Writer
Thirty feet of the ground with only two ropes holding me from my death, I take a step off the platform and onto the wire. Heart beating fast, legs shaking, and palms sweaty, I take another step with the encouragement of my peers. Fear is running through my body like blood, but I keep going trusting my friends, the equipment I’m using, and my own judgment.
The Discovery students took on challenge courses this past week. Challenge courses incorporate different obstacles that individuals try to maneuver through either by themselves or with a group to build on issues of trust, communication and leadership. In challenge courses, good facilitators use the participants’ experiences to make a bigger impact on the participants’ lives.
This is very hard to do sometimes. Because every group is different, therefore, every experience is different. It is hard to show someone who is scared of heights that they made it through a high ropes course, so they can deal with other fears in their lives. This is where being a good facilitator includes being a good educator and handling group dynamics.
Last Thursday, the outdoor education program changed its name to outdoor leadership. The school administration decided there was some confusion on the program since it is not part of the school’s educational program. The administration decided the best action would be take “education” out of the title and change it to outdoor leadership. Although many other schools have educational programs that are not under educational departments, including the University of Georgia who has both an Art Education and a Music Education, neither of which are under their educational department.
My own opinion is that I very much dislike the change. I love the major and the program because it develops us as educators. In this Discovery semester we are learning a lot of hard skills of how to handle the technical side of the activities, but we also learn the educator part of how to take the technical experience and make it a learning experience.
This name change undermines who we are as students in the program to simply call us leaders instead of educators. When we are teaching someone about big issues in life such as trust and communication, we are more than leaders, we are educators.
Besides the change itself, I disagree with the way the change was brought about. No one in administration asked the students on their opinion. It was a total surprise to the program’s students. I also think instead of settling confusion, the change will create more confusion.
Everyone on campus and involved in the program is use to the program being outdoor education. With the change, many people are confused if the program is the same or if it has changed. Though there are other degrees similar to ours such as Brevard’s Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, the point that made the program special at YHC, was that it was one of two outdoor education programs in the state. Simply changing the name makes the degree less special in the big picture.
From my understanding the program itself is not changing at all. As we continue through our Discovery semester we will continue to learn the hard skills involved in outdoor pursuits, and we will continue to learn how to be great future educators in our field. Politics are politics and nothing will ever change that, but as far as I am concerned I am an outdoor education major at Young Harris College, not an outdoor leadership major.
By Kathleen Layton, Editor-in-Chief
On Thurs. Oct. 14, the Outdoor Education Program was renamed Outdoor Leadership. This semantic change was announced to the students majoring in outdoor leadership prior to the official announcement, which was sent out through an M.E.T.A. e-mail to YHC faculty and staff. Students not majoring in outdoor leadership learned of the change at the Majors Fair held in Enotah Hall also on Oct. 14.
As a result of this change, both the department and degree program have changed. YHC’s Outdoor Education Center is now called the Center for Outdoor Leadership. Students who were majoring in outdoor education will now receive a degree in outdoor leadership.
The swift conversion from outdoor education to outdoor leadership has many students and faculty curious about the motives behind the renaming as well as reasons for the suddenness of the title change.
The change to outdoor leadership resulted out of an administrative review of the program. These reviews are lead by administration and are exercised with the intent of finding ways to improve each program of study.
“One thing we talk about is how to improve the education program, and one way we do this is to see how marketable to program is,” said Dr. Ron Roach, vice president of academic affairs.
While doing this review of outdoor education, administration found the definition of the Outdoor Leadership Program varied with each prospective student. Instead of associating the term with experiential education in an outdoor environment, some students mistakenly equated the program with a “classroom or licensure of teaching education,” Roach said.
Though evidence of prospective student confusion is not based on any numerical data, Roach said that evidence of this confusion was “based on word of mouth from the admissions folks, who talked to prospective students, and also from observations from the administration. This decision was a gut-decision.”
Once YHC administration recognized a need for clarification in the department’s title, word was sent to the outdoor education professors. After much debate, the outdoor education professors decided that outdoor leadership would be the new department name.
“We were given complete ownership of the name. And, when we decided on outdoor leadership, [the faculty of the department] all agreed,” said Rob Dussler, professor of outdoor leadership.
Even though the term outdoor leadership is new to YHC, several other colleges and universities have used the term ‘outdoor leadership’ for their own outdoor programs, such as Brevard College. The outdoor program at Brevard College is called Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, making the name change at YHC in line with other colleges and universities.
This congruency has led Roach to believe that the change is “another positive step.”
However, Roach added that the name change “is not written in stone. We’ll keep assessing it.”
With the rationalization behind the change explained, the next big question concerned the swiftness of the the decision.
The speed of the change is attributed to the publication of promotional material for YHC.
Roach said the speed of the change “has a lot to do with the fact that we are producing a lot of publications. We talked about delays, but we didn’t see a compelling reason to delay. So, we went ahead and made the change now.”
Even though the name of the department has changed, “all the classes and the approach to the degree will remain the same. Even our mission statement is the same as before,” Dussler said.
Though the publication materials are identical, the degree will emphasize leadership roles in an outdoor environment.
“I wouldn’t say that outdoor education and outdoor leadership have the same meaning, but we’re preparing students for leadership roles in outdoor education,” Dussler said.
Both Roach and Dussler believe that the marketability of the Outdoor Leadership degree program will not be harmed by the change. Administration and the Outdoor Leadership Department agree that this is a positive change for the program of study.
However, several of the outdoor leadership majors expressed concern about the change of their degree program.
“It sucks. What’s the point of changing from outdoor education to outdoor leadership? We promote experiential learning so it doesn’t make sense to change it,” said Ben Garner, a senior outdoor leadership major.
Junior outdoor leadership major, Katie Holcomb from Hampton, said, “they didn’t tell us. They didn’t ask us. We just found out it was changed. The school didn’t’ consider us or ask our opinion. It’s kinda disappointing.”