FAQs for Outdoor Education & Leadership

What careers are available for graduates?
There are a wide variety of job opportunities for degreed outdoor professionals. Most of those fall into one of the following five major categories. Below are five categories with sample employer organizations in each category.

  1. Education – Wilderness Instructor (Outward Bound, NOLS, etc.), College faculty, K-12 Teacher, Camp or Adventure Program Director (YMCA, American Camping Association, etc)
  2. Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Programming - Mountain Guide, River Guide, Hunting or Fishing Guide, Mountain Bike Guide, Outfitter, College Recreation Program Coordinator, Challenge Course Facilitator, Military Recreation Program Coordinator (Adventures Cross Country, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Cabela's Outdoor Adventures, etc.)
  3. Therapy -- Wilderness Therapist, Counselor, Therapeutic Recreation Program Coordinator or Director (Aspen Education Group, SUWS, etc).
  4.  Tourism – Tour guide, Tour operations staff/ administration (Mountain Travel Sobek, National Geographic Expeditions, etc.)
  5. Conservation and Natural Resource Management -- Park Ranger, Recreation Planner, Game Warden, Naturalist (US Forest Service, National Park Service, Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, etc.)

What is required to complete the program?

The Outdoor Education & Leadership degree is a 4-semester Associate of Arts (AA) degree that combines at least 1 field-based expedition course with outdoor and general education classes. It prepares students for careers listed above or for transfer to a Bachelor degree program. Students have the option to take up to 1 full semester of credits through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Students who choose not to attend a NOLS semester take a combination of CWC's Summer Mountain Expedition (4 creds) and select outdoor adventure skills courses, such as: Rock Climbing, Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding, Avalanche Safety, Mountain Biking, Whitewater Rafting, and Dayhiking.


Where can I transfer to complete a Bachelor Degree?

Depending on your long term career goals, you may wish to complete Bachelor or Master's degree after your Associate degree. Historically, about 1/2 of CWC Outdoor Ed & Leadership grads have chosen to continue their academic studies. Students who complete an Associate Degree at CWC may transfer as a Junior into a variety of outdoor-related degree program areas, including: Outdoor Education, Experiential Education, Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, Adventure Education, Outdoor Recreation, Natural Resource Management, and Environmental Studies. These Bachelor degree programs are offered at universities throughout the US and further prepare students for the careers mentioned above.

A few of the colleges and universities that our graduates have transferred to recently include: Alaska Pacific, Colorado State, Cornell, Sterling College, Prescott College, BYU, Montana State, U of Utah, and Boise State.


What about scholarships for Outdoor Education & Leadership?

Both NOLS and CWC offer partial scholarships to qualified applicants. Ask for a scholarship application at the Financial Aid office. Some students may qualify for scholarships from both institutions, but applicants must apply to each organization separately.


Can the Outdoor Education & Leadership Degree be obtained via the internet?

Many general education courses can be done online or transferred from another school, but you will still need to attend 1-2 semesters of hands-on training at our outdoor education center near Lander, WY.


What about Wilderness First Responder classes or the Wilderness EMT class on-line?

These courses are not something you can do online. They involve direct hands-on teaching. Most students take them at Sinks Canyon Center in Lander for certification through NOLS' Wilderness Medicine Institute, or in Jackson, WY through Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute.


Where should I look in the CWC catalog and course schedules for outdoor-related course descriptions? CWC courses related to the outdoors are located in several places in the catalogue. Be sure to check the Education (EDUC) section, the Geography & Recreation (G&R) section, and the Physical Education Activity (PEAC) section as well as Outdoor Education. NOLS courses are found in the G&R, EDUC, and Biology sections of the catalog. Wilderness Medicine courses are found in the Health Education (HLED) section.


What kinds of outdoor adventure skills courses does CWC offer that do NOT involve NOLS?
During the Fall semester, we usually offer Mountainbiking, Indoor Climbing, and Dayhiking. In Spring, we offer Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding, Avalanche Safety, and Outdoor Rock Climbing. Over the summer, we offer a 5 day Whitewater Rafting trip and a 12-day Mountain Expedition. Our trip leaders are all either NOLS Instructors or professional mountain or river guides.


Do you offer the Wilderness First Responder class or the Wilderness EMT class in the summer?
CWC partners with the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS and Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute (JHOLI) for wilderness medicine training. See http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/ for a full list of courses, schedules, and locations of WMI courses. JHOLI course dates are available at http://www.avalancheandwildmedtraining.com/.
We also offer a semester-length WFR course for credit through WMI which is taught each Fall at Sinks Canyon Center.


I have some college credits that I would like to transfer to CWC toward my degree.  How many credits may I transfer?
You may transfer up to 48 credits.  Have your transcripts sent to CWC and contact our Registration and Records office to request a transfer evaluation or fill out the online transfer evaluation request form. In order to obtain a degree from CWC you must have completed at least 12 credits at CWC.


What is the living situation like for students in this program?
Outstanding. CWC just completed construction on its new 12-room residential facility at Sinks Canyon Center. This adds 24 beds to the existing living space in the 7 existing cabins and the Orchard House.
Most students choose to live at Sinks Canyon Center rather than in Lander or Riverton for several reasons. It is a magnificent location in the foothills of the Wind River Range, along a river, adjoining Sinks Canyon State Park and the Shoshone National Forest. It has easy access to biking and hiking trails, fly fishing, world class rock climbing, caving, and cross country skiing. Students living at SCC also have access to brand new outdoor equipment (skis, mountain bikes, snowboards, whitewater rafts, canoes, fishing gear, climbing equipment, etc.) Most courses are taught at SCC, so students do not need to commute to main campus.

NOLS-Specific Questions

Is college credit available for students taking National Outdoor Leadership School courses?

Yes, college credit is offered by CWC for courses taught through NOLS. Students must be enrolled at both institutions to receive college credit.


How old must a student be to earn college credit for their NOLS course?
Any student 16 years of age or older can earn college credit for their NOLS course.


Does the tuition at CWC also cover the NOLS tuition?
No. You must pay CWC's regular tuition plus NOLS' regular tuition for your course. Here's how it happens: CWC bills the student directly for course tuition at both CWC and NOLS. This billing includes the equipment deposit for your NOLS course but does not include the NOLS application fee and the optional tuition protection program fee. The application fee and tuition protection fees must be paid directly to NOLS.
The good news…because the NOLS tuition is billed through CWC, it can be calculated in your federal financial aid. This means that if you qualify for federal financial aid, you may use it to cover a portion of your NOLS course costs (up to 16 credits). The percentage covered, depends on which NOLS course you choose to take and how much financial aid you qualify for. Contact the CWC Financial Aid Office for more details.


Do I have to take a NOLS semester or can I take other shorter NOLS courses?
You may take any NOLS course that is 7 days or longer for credit. All NOLS courses have different starting dates, so please check the NOLS catalog or website for additional information. In general, 7 days of a NOLS course amounts to 1 credit at CWC. Some students take a full year at NOLS, but only 1 semester of that year will count toward their degree.


Do I take my NOLS courses before attending CWC or afterward?
For students who plan to take a NOLS semester, it is best to spend your first semester at CWC, then take your second or third semester with NOLS. This allows the student to spend their first 3 semesters developing a strong foundation in both Outdoor Ed. theory and practice which can then be used in student leadership positions and internships during the final semester. Be aware that some CWC courses are only offered on a Fall-Spring sequence, and other courses are only offered on alternate years. Plan your courses carefully and meet with your academic advisor to register for classes.


I just filled out and submitted my CWC application. When do I need to fill out the NOLS application?
You should apply directly to NOLS for your course 6-9 months before it begins.  Tell your NOLS Admission Officer that you intend to get credit from CWC.  NOLS will then send CWC a copy of your acceptance letter.  When its time to register for those course(s), the CWC registrar will place you in the proper course(s).  You will then receive a tuition and fees bill from CWC for tuition from both organizations.


What if I'm already a NOLS graduate?
Starting in 2014, previous NOLS grads may get CWC credits for their NOLS course by completing CWC's credit-by-examination process. Students wishing to receive college credit must have their NOLS Admission Officer send an official copy of their NOLS Course Evaluation directly to the Associate Professor of Outdoor Education. They then pay for the credits through the CWC business office and schedule a time for the oral exam with a member of the CWC Outdoor Education Faculty.


Other Questions?
Email Associate Professor of Outdoor Education, Darran Wells




 Darran Wells

(307) 855-2076 
Email: Outdoor Education



Outdoor Education in the news
Casper Star Tribune
May 10, 2012 


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