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Passionate about the outdoors?

BHSU’s Outdoor Education Program prepares students for professional careers across the broad field of outdoor education which includes adventure education, parks interpretation, and environmental education. Our students are grounded in experiential education theory and natural history knowledge. They develop their skills in outdoor pursuits, education methods, interpretive communications, and outdoor program management. They practice program delivery via our numerous partnerships with regional parks, nature centers, schools, and camps, as well as with BHSU’s Collegiate Outdoor Leadership Program.

A degree in Outdoor Education from BHSU equips students for education careers in parks, nature centers, zoos, aquaria, natural resource management agencies, eco-tourism programs, camps, wilderness programs, 4-H extension programs, field stations, non-profits, lodges, and other locations that value hard-working, knowledgeable, well-rounded educators.

In addition to our excellent, well-rounded major, our program includes several electives (free choice credits) in which students can enhance their knowledge, skills, and abilities in their specific areas of interest; many select one of BHSU’s many or minors such as American Indian studies, archives, art, athletic coaching, biology, business, criminal justice, early childhood education, earth science, entrepreneurial studies, geography, health, history, international studies, graphic design, guitar performance, historical site interpretation, journalism, management, museums, philosophy, photography, professional writing, psychology, social & cultural awareness, social resiliency, sociology, and writing.

Program Highlights

Science Core

  • Select from courses in biology, geology, zoology, botany, and conservation. 

Outdoor Leadership Core

  • Select technical outdoor skills courses like archery, backpacking, canoeing, cross country skiing, lifeguarding, orienteering, outdoor skills, rock climbing, or SCUBA.
  • Select one or both of these first responder courses: wilderness first responder or emergency medical technician.
  • Take the organization and management of outdoor programs course to develop skills to lead outdoor programs.
  • Learn to work with people of all abilities by taking an adapted physical education course. 

Environmental Interpretation Core

  • Environmental Education: Theory and Practice Learn to lead evidence-based, value-fair programs.
  • Environmental Interpretation Earn the Certified Interpretive Guide certificate from the National Association for Interpretation.
  • Interpretive Media Use the power of the internet to market and educate via websites, video, and social media methods.
  • Sustainability Classes Keep up-to-date with best practices that balance societal, environmental, and economic interests. 


Personalize your program and develop a specialty area to enhance your employability. Many students select certifications and minors in the following areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Entrepreneurial Studies
  • Management
  • Social Media
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Psychology
  • Historical Site Interpretation

Careers in this field

There are employment opportunities in a variety of sectors:
» 4-H Program Specialist
» Adventure Therapist
» Camp Director
» Challenge Course Facilitator 
» Environmental Educator
» Guide
» Naturalist
» Outdoor Program Social Media Specialist
» Outdoor Retail
»Parks Interpreter
» Resource Management Agency Information & Education Specialist
» Wilderness Trip Leader
» Youth Program Specialist

Jessica Alsaker,
Mt. Rushmore Intern
Experimental Learning

• Paid internships that match your interests
• Hands-on learning
• Outdoor skills classes like rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, cross country skiing, orienteering, winter camping, SCUBA, & archery
• Sustainability field trips
• Wilderness First Responder Course instructed by the National Outdoor Leadership School
• Study abroad options
• Collegiate Outdoor Leadership Program

Collegiate Outdoor Leadership Program

Who We Are

The Collegiate Outdoor Leadership Program (COLP) provides experience in planning and leading outdoor programs for the campus community.

What We Do

• Leadership Development: Attend orientations to become a “COLP Leader,” “ClimbingWall Supervisor,” “Trip Leader” or “Teaching Assistant.”

• Student-Led Programs for Individuals: As a student leader, you will plan and lead outdoor activities for the campus community. Previous events have included: Rock climbing outings, lake and river paddling, fly fishing clinics, caving tours, 5K races, kayak rolling clinics, archery, shooting sports, and ice fishing. The COLP officers decide each year’s slate of programs.

• Meetings: Active COLP members get together twice a month for “mini-programs” on topics such as Leave No Trace, Wilderness First Responder skills, knot tying, and more!

• Programs for Groups Fundraiser: COLP Leaders plan and lead programs for groups of eight or more.

• Outdoor Gear Rental Program: COLP, in partnership with the academic Outdoor Education program, rents outdoor gear to the BHSU community on Mondays and Fridays from 2 - 5:30 p.m. Active COLP Leaders are able to rent outdoor gear for free for one week (with a $25 deposit)

Certificate in Adventure Education - 12 Credit Hours

3     RECR       242     Outdoor Skills
3     RECR       420     Organization & Management of Outdoor Programs
3       OE       492     Wilderness First Responder
5     Take 5 of the following (each is one credit):      
Archery Instructor-Trainer
Challenge Course
Cross Country Skiing
Beginning Rock Climbing
Intermediate Rock Climbing

Major Core Requirements - 63-66 Credit Hours

      OE & Science Core  
1   OE   101     The Outdoor Education Major
4   BIOL   151/L     General Biology I/Lab
4   BIOL   153/L     General Biology II/Lab



Physical Geology/Lab

4   Botany - take one course with lab from the following:  
    BIOL   301/L     Plant Systematics/Lab
    BIOL   461/L     Agrostology/Lab


3-4   General Science - take one course from the following:    
    BIOL     311/L     Principles of Ecology/Lab
    BIOL   321     Conservation of Natural Resources
    PHYS   185/L     Introduction to Astronomy/Lab


Global Positioning & Geographical Info Systems

3-4   Geology - take one course from the following:  
    GEOL   203/L     Historical Geology/Lab
    GEOL   310     Volcanology
    GEOL   340     Mineralogy/Petrology
    GEOL   350     Environmental Geology
    GEOL   370     Hydrogeology


Special Topics

3-4   Biology - take one course from the following:  
    BIOL   302     Animal Behavior
    BIOL   355/L       Mammology/Lab
    BIOL   357/L       Invertebrate Zoology/Lab
    BIOL   405/L     Entomology/Lab
    BIOL   434/L       Herpetology/Lab



    Physical Education Skills - Take 4 credits  
    PE   320/L   Lifeguard Training/Lab
    PE   321     Water Safety Instructor
    PE   352     Adapted Physical Education


Intermediate Swimming

3   Medical Skills - Take 1 course    
3   EXS     354/L     Care for Athlete Injuries/Lab
    HLTH   364/L     Emergency Medical Tech/Lab


Topics (WFR)

3   Program Organization & Management - Take 1 course    
    BADM     360     Organization & Management


Organization & Management of Outdoor Programs

    Field Experience  
6   OE   494     Internship

*You will also need to complete General Education courses. See the General Education requirements for a complete list of required Gen Ed courses.

2014-20xx Minor in Outdoor Education - 18 Hours

3     OE       310     Environmental Education: Theory & Practice
3     OE       350     Environmental Interpretation
3     OE       376     Interpretive Media
3     RECR       242     Outdoor Skills
3     RECR       420     Organization & Management of Outdoor Programs
3     Take 1 of the following:      
    PE       100     Activity Courses (3 courses)
    OE       492     ST: Wilderness First Responder
    THM       100     Intro to Travel & Hospitality Management


Develop valuable personal relationships in a small community with amazing faculty and staff while thriving in the outdoors of the Black Hills.