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BHSU to offer new Certificate in Adventure Education this fall

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, June 27, 2019/Categories: Students, Academic Affairs, Alumni, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Community, Faculty, Outdoor Education, Sustainability, 2019

Black Hills State University will offer a new Certificate in Adventure Education this fall, preparing students to be outdoor professionals who can plan and deliver quality education experiences. The South Dakota Board of Regents approved the certificate offering today.

Dr. Christine McCart, assistant professor of Outdoor Education at BHSU, says there is increasing demand, driven by insurance policies and professional standards, for training and certification for leaders of quality outdoor experiences.

“As the only Outdoor Education academic university program in South Dakota, we can provide this service to our citizens in a strong way. Those who complete this certificate will promote connection to the natural world and manage risk according to professional standards, while promoting the benefits of adventure education,” says McCart.

The Adventure Education Certificate requires the completion of 12 credits at BHSU including courses in outdoor technical skills (such as rock climbing, orienteering, or backpacking), management of outdoor programs, and a wilderness first responder course.

This certificate can stand alone, or be combined with academic programs to enhance employability.

Those who may be interested in the certificate include employees at area programs and camps or in corporate teambuilding, along with students enrolled in tourism and hospitality, psychology, sociology, human services, and exercise sciences programs.

Outdoor recreation opportunities continue to grow within South Dakota, with recreation generating $586 million in the state in 2017. McCart says one specific sector of recreation is the indoor climbing industry, which is experiencing growth and needs qualified staff.

McCart, who is known for conducting her classes outside and leading students on backcountry excursions, recently completed a kayak instructor certification with the goal of sharing knowledge with students to increase the safety of paddle sports in the state.

 “Too many have drowned for been injured because they weren’t wearing a lifejacket or were paddling in moving waters far above their knowledge, skills, or equipment. We have certified instructors at BHSU to help students learn current first aid, good judgment, risk management, and knowledge of rescue techniques,” said McCart.

McCart says adventure skills taught via the certificate are used in conjunction with counseling and therapy, fitness, physical education, and conservation. In an era of technology, adventure education assists with youth social and physical development challenges during school or in camps.

McCart stresses that those who want to participate in, and lead, outdoor activities come in all fitness levels and socio-economic backgrounds.

“What differentiates adventure education from the ‘thrills and spills’ world of bungie jumping or endurance racing is that it is often about the group, is student-centered, and is using outdoor activity as a means to an end – like character development, healing, academic motivation, or connection to the natural world,” says McCart.

To learn more, visit or contact BHSU Admissions at 605-642-6343 or

About Outdoor Education at BHSU
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.

Spring 2019 graduates with Outdoor Education degrees are working with the National Park Service, Custer State Park, the Club for Boys, and South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks.

BHSU offers a bachelor’s degree and minor in outdoor education, along with the new certificate in adventure education.

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