The University of Lynchburg, through its Outdoor Leadership Programs, will soon offer an Outdoor Leadership Certification program. The program, which is independent of the University’s academic programs, is made up of eight courses and is intended to prepare students for a career in the outdoor industry.
Classes can be completed in as little as one year but must be completed within three years.
“The program is designed to give you the knowledge, skills, and experiences to gain a foothold in the outdoor industry,” said Tim Slusser ’22, the program’s creator and Lynchburg’s assistant director of recreation.
The OLC includes five core courses: Introduction to Outdoor Leadership, Wilderness Medicine, Introduction to Backcountry Living, Introduction to the Outdoor Industry and Risk Management, and a weeklong capstone course, where students put what they’ve learned into practical use.
Students also choose three classes from a number of electives: Introduction to Challenging Course Operations and Adventure Training, Introduction to Rock Climbing, Introduction to Paddle Sport Activities, Mountain Biking, Fly Fishing, and Outdoor Leadership Internship.
Each course in the program includes its own certificate — swift water rescue, wilderness first responder, etc. — and earning the OLC from Lynchburg also prepares students to sit for the nationally recognized Wilderness Education Association Certified Outdoor Leader exam.
Courses are held in evenings and on weekends. Some are “hybrid” — online and in-person — and there are two-to-seven-day intensives in the field. In short, courses are offered at times that make getting the certification convenient for the program’s target audiences: college students from Lynchburg and elsewhere and working adults, ages 18 and up.
“This program is designed for someone who wants to get a jump-start in the outdoor industry and those who wish to take their traditional degree and tailor it to fit their passion,” Slusser said. “The best example I could give would be the student that wishes to start an outdoor business.
“They can attend our excellent business school, while gaining the Outdoor Leadership Certification, allowing them to be ready to start their outdoor business upon graduation. … It’s a cherry-on-the-top-of-the-sundae kind of thing.”
Courses are taught by Slusser and other outdoors professionals from throughout the region. The total cost of the program is $2,800 for tuition-paying University of Lynchburg students, $3,200 for students from other colleges and universities, and $3,600 for non-college students and members of the general public.
“The program does a couple of things,” Slusser said. “It increases the ability of our students to be more marketable in the outdoor industry. It also allows us to be a partner in the community, creating opportunities for … all these nonprofits and outdoor companies to use us for their training.
“Think about the summer camps we have in the area. All of them need their staff trained. The outdoor industry is a multibillion dollar a year — a huge industry — in Virginia and the University is committed to being a good steward. The way we can do that is through training.”
For more information about the Outdoor Leadership Certification program at Lynchburg, contact Slusser at firstname.lastname@example.org.