Joshua Roadifer, a senior outdoor education major from Belle Fourche, prepares students to climb the rock wall at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center. Roadifer completed a summer internship at the Badlands National Park in Interior where he led tours and hosted programs for children. Roadifer was one of several outdoor education majors who had adventurous internship experiences.
Several Black Hills State University students found outdoor education program internships that gave them valuable experience working at adventurous locations.
Megan Allen, a senior outdoor education major from Meeteetse, Wyo., interned with the Campfire USA Alaska Rural Program in Greater Alaska where she traveled to small villages and organized and led water safety and camp activities for native children.
Jarred Burleson, a senior outdoor education major from Lead, interned at the Roo Gully Wildlife Sanctuary in Bay Up Brook, Australia, where he assisted with the interpretation and care of native marsupials.
Joshua Roadifer, a senior outdoor education major from Spearfish, did his internship a little closer to home at the Badlands National Park in Interior where he led tours and hosted programs. Though the Badlands seems close to home compared to some of the other destinations, Roadifer says his internship locale sometimes felt like being in a different country because of the myriad of different cultures touring the park.
Chris McCart, BHSU outdoor education internship coordinator, whole-heartedly emphasizes the importance of internships for students.
“Internships give ‘real life’ experience that round out the college learning,” said McCart. “Students gain job skills and contacts and really understand why we cover all the material we do in the classroom.”
Allen chose to go to Alaska because, as she says, “It’s Alaska! It’s adventurous.” Allen also felt that it would be exciting to do her internship in a different culture and learn more about her own heritage. She says the director of the Campfire USA Alaska Rural Program helped her connect with the kids.
“The experience was everything I thought it would be and more. I learned so much about organizing a program, risk management, staff training, outdoor skills and flexibility,” Allen says.
Allen feels her internship was quite important for her education. Her internship allowed her to “make mistakes, reflect upon them, and immediately correct them right there.” The skills that she has learned in the classroom were applied to real-life situations.
Allen’s favorite aspect of her internship was the one-on-one contact with the children in the various villages.
“I loved seeing the happiness on kid’s faces when we would arrive in each village and the teary goodbyes when we had to leave. All this and the beauty I saw in the area made the entire internship worthwhile,” Allen says.
Burleson says his internship at a wildlife sanctuary in Australia was the result of a happy coincidence.
“My fiancé and I were originally just going to volunteer at the wildlife sanctuary,” says Burleson. He then decided to ask his advisor, McCart, if he could get internship credit as well. Burleson knew that it would be a different culture but thought that it would be somewhat familiar since English is the official language in Australia.
“It turned out that there were seven other volunteers. Three were from New Holland, one from Italy, two from England and one other one from America so it was a great experience working with people from all over,” recounted Burleson.
Burleson’s most memorable summer internship experience was being involved in a government search for a smaller kangaroo species called Bettongs, which are close to being on the endangered species list.
Burleson feels that internships are important for students because it provides actual experience which he knows will be vital when he begins to look for a full-time job.
Burleson and his fiancé, Samantha Bell, are involved in the Roo Ranch in Deadwood where they manage around 30 kangaroos and give tours to visitors. After graduation, he plans to stay in South Dakota and fulfill his career goal of becoming involved with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
McCart encourages students to take the extra effort to have an international experience.
“International experience really broadens one’s education, helps the student see the world in unique ways, and helps them learn more about themselves,” says McCart. She hopes that more students will consider studying abroad. “Sometimes students hesitate because there are extra costs involved; however, I think this is a wonderful investment.”
Roadifer was having difficulty choosing a major when he discovered the outdoor education program at BHSU which seemed like a perfect fit for him.
“I’d tried history, math education and business administration but none of the classes I was taking really appealed to me. One day I was flipping through my BHSU catalog and found outdoor education and knew right away it was for me,” says Roadifer.
Roadifer has always been a world traveler and had taken time off from school to visit different places.
“I have three dream places where I want to live,” Roadifer says. He lists the Oregon coast; Juneau, Alaska; and New York City as places that he would like to live for at least a year each. His outdoor education degree may be just the ticket to reach those goals.
Roadifer says his favorite aspect of his internship was working with the Junior Ranger activities for children who visit the park.
The BHSU outdoor education program is an interdisciplinary major combining instruction in basic environmental sciences, training in education skills for outdoor settings, and preparation in outdoor adventure programming. According to McCart, an important component of the outdoor education program is the partnerships developed with area natural resource and education agencies that provide students with numerous opportunities for real-life experience. The required six-credit internship gives students hands-on experience and vital contacts in their area of specialization.
McCart says the outdoor education degree prepares students for professional careers in teaching settings that occur outside the traditional classroom, such as nature centers; city, state, or national parks; education and information positions in natural resource agencies; college outdoor programs; guide and adventure programs; residential camping endeavors; and environmental education programs. Many exciting and worthwhile positions are available in this field for students with the right combination of education and experience.
For more information about the outdoor education major contact McCart at 642-6027 or email ChristineMcCart@bhsu.edu.