BHSU grad pushes herself to excel, earn outdoor education degree

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, May 7, 2015/Categories: 2015



   

   

   

       

           

       

       

           Black Hills State University graduate Paige Smith, of Austin, Minn., will earn her outdoor education degree during BHSU's spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9.

       

   



Paige Smith understands the importance of a post it note.

The BHSU graduate earned her outdoor education degree while working two part time jobs, and admits that her schedule at times left her a little frazzled.

"I did it through planning and time management," Paige said. "My agenda is filled and I have post it notes everywhere. Keeping organized really kept me on track."

Paige&rsquos determination paid off. She will graduate from BHSU May 9 with her degree in outdoor education and immediately begin a summer internship with Reptile Gardens outside of Rapid City. While working at Reptile Gardens, the largest reptile zoo in the world, Paige will handle the slithering reptiles and educate the public about the variety of species at the summer tourist attraction. Some of the animals she will work with include tortoises, komodo dragons and snakes.

Paige&rsquos interest in animals and the outdoors began in high school. Her biology teacher left a teaching career to become a park ranger. That new career move sparked an interest in Paige to learn more about that field of study. She found BHSU had a great outdoor education program and was located in the Black Hills &ndash an ideal spot to study the outdoors.

A native of Minnesota, Paige said she got involved in rock climbing, canoeing and other outdoor activities at BHSU through the College Outdoor Leadership Program (COLP).

"I&rsquom going to miss the atmosphere at BHSU," Paige said. "I love being able to look out the window of my classroom and see the hills."

Paige credits BHSU for her excellent work ethic. Her jobs kept her not only busy, but focused on achieving good grades to succeed in her future endeavors.

"At BHSU, I learned to really excel into every area I push myself into," Paige said. "Last spring I had a tough semester. I was working a lot, and mainly I just excelled because I kept pushing myself so hard."

She also commended her professor Dr. Chris McCart, assistant professor of outdoor education, for a great experience at BHSU.

"Chris is just great. She&rsquos the best teacher I&rsquove had," Paige said. "I was able to have a lot of one-on-one time with her and she really prepared me for my future career."

Although her work at Reptile Gardens is seasonal, Paige said she hopes to eventually work fulltime at the attraction or someplace very similar.

Paige came to BHSU and found adventure. Now, as she leaves one adventure behind, she&rsquos excited to pursue a new one as an outdoor education professional.
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