Outdoor Leadership Program faces changes this semester

Dr. Steve Spencer speaks to students in his Outdoor Leadership class, showing them the different types of tents and why each type of tent is important. The WKU Outdoor Leadership Program has been cut this semester due to the lack of student interest, but Dr. Steve Spencer (right) is still presenting the course in his own way. “We hope to have it back next semester,” explains Dr. Spencer. The group is currently learning about different types of tents, and how to start a gas burner. Lex Selig/HERALD

Monica Kast

WKU’s Outdoor Leadership Program will be changing its format for this semester.

Previously, the OLP minor, available through the Recreation Administration program, was co-taught by Steve Spencer, recreation administration professor, and Tammie Stenger-Ramsey, associate professor in recreation administration.

Spencer said there were several changes that took place last semester that resulted in more changes for this semester.

“What happened was my co-instructor got pregnant, and our numbers were down,” Spencer said on Friday.

Spencer said they like to have 12 students enrolled in a class, but only seven signed up for the spring semester.

This semester, instead of having five different courses, there will only be three. Students who participate in the OLP this semester will not partake in the capstone course or expedition-planning course, Spencer said.  

Along with these changes, the course fee was eliminated. According to the Program Outline for OLP, the course fee was formerly $750.

The Wilderness Education Association Outdoor Leader Certification previously included in the program was also eliminated.

“This time, we didn’t charge the course fee,” Spencer said. “Students won’t be getting their certifications, but they will still be getting a lot of experience.”

Students in the class learn outdoor skills such as cooking, camping and emergency response.

Dan Kirk, a student with an OLP minor, said one of the main points they learn in the program is learning to leave no trace.

“Treat everything as it should be treated,” he said, referencing the core ideas behind the OLP. “Treat everything right.”

For Kirk, the most exciting part of the program is going out and applying what they’ve learned.

“I’m most excited for the four day camping trip at the end of the semester,” he said. “I like being outside.”

Raymond Poff, professor and coordinator of the recreation administration undergraduate degree, said the changes made to the program were temporary.

“There were some changes made this semester because we didn’t have enough students sign up,” he said. “As far as I know, and I’m the program coordinator, there have been no permanent changes made.”

For students with an OLP minor who are close to graduating, Poff said they shouldn’t worry about getting all the credits that they need.

“In the event that a student did have to have a minor in order to graduate, professors Spencer and Stenger-Ramsey would offer course substitutions,” he said. “We certainly won’t hold back a student, because it’s not their fault.”