By Mikaela Dalton
WISE is excited to announce that the Outdoor and Wilderness Leadership Skills program (OWLS) will be ready for its first team of students this summer, 2018! If you are or know a teen in high school who is interested in learning to be a more competent backcountry explorer, learn leadership skills, and discover a variety of outdoor job opportunities right here in the Copper River Valley, then apply to be part of the first ever OWLS cohort of leaders!
This program will happen in three stages throughout the summer and earn a .5 credit from the Copper River School District as an Elective Credit. The first part will be the four-day Introductory Expedition hiking in the Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve to enhance their backcountry capabilities and begin learning some technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills for the backcountry. We’ll go over trip planning and time management, back country nutrition, map and compass skills, leadership styles, knot tying, risk management, and so much more.
Our second stage is full of Independent Learning. With the help and guidance of WISE, one option for students will be to job shadow professionals in the area to see what a day in the life would be like of a park interpreter, a land surveyor, a wildlife biologist, an environmental scientist, an adventure guide, etc. Students will also be encouraged to come on WISE community programs as assistants to learn more of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting on outdoor program and taking care of participants.
As part of the Independent Learning section, we also want our students to practice planning an expedition on their own. Even if it is just a day hike or a short trip, they will write out the full itinerary, their food/meal plan, mileage, and all the considerations they need to make ahead of time in preparation for an expedition. These are all things they will learn on the Introductory Expedition and will use on the Final Expedition.
The middle section of the program is meant to be flexible so that students can still travel with their families over the summer or have jobs. They will only do the Independent Learning options on dates that work in their schedules, and WISE will help each student plan a successful summer.
Finally, the program will end with an expedition planned and lead by the students. Working together and being in communication with each other over the summer, they will plan a 3-4 day expedition, choosing the location, distance, means of transport, food, gear, and make all the necessary preparations together. If there are questions we will help, but for the most part we want them to use each other! This expedition will be their final project where we will look to see how well they utilize the technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills they learned, how well they planned for and prepared the expedition, and how they manage obstacles they encounter.
We are excited for this program to create a team of teen leaders in the Copper River Valley who care for and love the place they grew up in and want to learn more about the future opportunities here and gain the skills to get a head start towards those careers. If you have questions about the program or want to apply, email Robin Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the WISE office at 907-822-3575. We can’t wait to take flight!
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.