Earlhamites leading 2019 Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference on campus
February 11, 2019
More than 100 outdoor educators will visit Earlham College this February for a three-day student-led conference.
Jordan Lehman ’19 and Morgan Bailey ’20 are co-organizers of the 2019 Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference (MWOLC) taking place across campus on Feb. 15-17. The conference is the culmination of a one-credit practicum they are leading this semester.
“There are 12 of us in this class and none of us have experience planning a conference before, but a big focus of this event is giving young professionals opportunities to take on leadership roles in the outdoor education community,” Lehman, a Biology major from Polk City, Iowa, says.
“We’re excited about having discussions with other undergraduate students and educators from around the Midwest to learn new ways to promote our programs, pursue careers in outdoor education or incorporate elements of the outdoors into our lives in different ways.”
The conference is in its ninth year and includes workshops, interactive games and an adventure run where participants perform technical skills like pitching tents, setting up stoves and tying knots. A sampling of workshops being offered include best practices in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, diversity and inclusion in outdoor education, and methods for adaptive recreation, including rock climbing using alternative harnesses.
Lehman and Bailey, a Biochemistry major from Hartland, Wisconsin, have invited Puja Clifford, an adjunct instructor with Earlham’s Graduate Programs in Education, to deliver a keynote address about her experiences as an outdoor naturalist and evolving career path as a teacher.
Earlham is a national leader for outdoor education and experiential learning in the liberal arts and supports coursework, internships and sustainability initiatives that are popular to students across the curriculum. The College’s outdoor education offerings are part of the larger Environmental Leadership Program, which also houses the Student Sustainability Corps and Miller Farm, Earlham’s long-running sustainable agriculture venture. Many Earlham graduates continue their passion for the outdoors by pursuing careers in education, advocacy and outdoor leadership, including placements with well-renowned institutions such as the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Outward Bound. Many others pursue advanced degrees on topics related to environmental leadership.
On campus, Earlham’s Outdoor Education Integrated Pathway emphasizes educational and environmental theory, interpersonal and leadership skills, and an introduction to technical skills such as backpacking, canoeing and rock climbing. Each May, the College also offers internationally-recognized Wilderness First Responder Training in partnership with Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) and is open to the general public.
August Wilderness, Earlham’s flagship pre-orientation experience for new students, is an 11-day backpacking journey across Utah’s Uinta Mountains led by faculty and current students.
“I was only on one camping trip before college but I signed up for August Wilderness and I just loved it,” Lehman says. “Since then, I’ve been on several mid-semester backpacking excursions and become involved with the leadership side of outdoor education including opportunities to lead August Wilderness twice.”
This is the second time Earlham has hosted MWOLC. The previous time was in 2015.
“We’re really excited to have another chance to bring this conference to Earlham,” Lehman says. We’re expecting educators and students from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan this year. Co-leading this conference is just another opportunity to do what I love at Earlham.”
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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. We rank 7th nationally by Princeton Review for Best Classroom Experience and 22nd by U.S. News and World Report for commitment to undergraduate teaching.
Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and firstname.lastname@example.org.