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Outdoor Education

Get an inside look at CWC's Outdoor Education program

Outdoor Education and Leadership

Associate of Arts Degree

For those who love mountaintops, wilderness backpacking, skiing, mountain biking, and living in a tent for weeks or months at a time at elevations from 3,000 to more than 12,000 feet above sea level-your adventure is calling.
In order to develop skills in outdoor education, you'll have to fully immerse yourself in an education that takes you outdoors! You'll be hiking, biking, rafting, climbing and skiing Wyoming's expansive terrain, while developing skills you need for a career as a leader in the outdoors. This unique program will have you learning through field-based excursions in the remote wilderness areas in and around the Wyoming Rockies. Wilderness expeditions and outdoor skills courses are combined with natural history and a liberal arts curriculum.

CWC’s Outdoor Education and Leadership is unique in four ways

  • Our Outdoor Education Center at Sinks Canyon with student housing
  • Focus on experiential education and partnership with the NOLS
  • Outstanding faculty
  • World class location in the foothills of the Wyoming Rockies

As part of the program, you will have the option to spend up to one full semester taking wilderness-based courses with the NOLS. NOLS offers these educational expeditions at remote, pristine locations in the U.S. and abroad. To receive college credit for NOLS courses, students must enroll concurrently in the appropriate corresponding course at CWC. For more information on NOLS offerings visit the NOLS website. 

Discover Sinks Canyon Center Housing



Intro to Environmental Science 4
Leading Adventure Programs 3
Intro to Outdoor Education 3
Outdoor Education Practicum 4
Outdoor Recreation 3
Wilderness First Responder OR Wilderness Emegerency Medical Technician 4
General Psychology 4

 Students must choose 4 credits from the following list of Expedition courses listed below



Outdoor Educator  1-5
Outdoor Leadership Instructor 1-5
Outdoor Education & Leadership 1-5
Wilderness Horsepacking 1-5
Mountaineering 1-5
Wilderness Backpacking 1-5
Combined Expedition 1-5 
Winter Expedition 1-5
Rock Climbing 1-5 
Water Expedition 1-5 
Environmental Ethics & Management 1-5 

Students must choose 3 PEAC course from the following list of approved courses




Skiing 1
Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing 1
Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing 1
Whitewater Rafting and Rescue 1
Outdoor Multi-sport 3
Indoor Rock Climbing 1
Mountain Biking 1
Emergency Water Safety/Lifeguard Training 1
Wilderness Navigation 1
Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding 1
Alpine Climbing and Rescue 1


View the course catalog for a full list of electives (pg. 110)



Writing Level I 3
Writing Level II 3
American and Wyoming Government 3
Arts 3
Humanities 3
Oral Communications
University Studies 1










More Information

CWC Outdoor Education enjoys a truly world class location, adjoining the nation’s first national forest. We are a 2-hour drive to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks. Just out the back door, Sinks Canyon State Park is a stunning outdoor playground which serves as a gateway to the Wind River Mountains. Sinks is home to Limestone, Sandstone, and Granite rock climbing, a cave system, mountain bike and ski trails, and some of the best fly-fishing in the country.

Sinks Canyon conveniently borders both the sub-alpine and high desert ecosystems where elk, pronghorns, cougars, and coyotes can be spotted. At CWC our students develop leadership and outdoor adventure skills with wilderness as a key part of their college experience.

Outdoor Recreation

Associate of Applied Science Degree

Learn about the business and entrepreneurial side of the outdoor recreation service industry through the Outdoor Recreation program. This program is a great launching point if you are a student eager to start your own outdoor-related small business or are seeking a career in parks, recreation or tourism. 

Best practices in training, leadership assessment and program management will be explored, along with developing skills in understanding human development and pyschology in ourdoor recreation program settings and risk managemement. 

You'll have the option to spend up to 1 full smester taking wilderness based courses with the national Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). NOLS offers educational expeditions at remote, pristine locations in the U.S. and abroad. For more information on NOLS offeringns visit the NOLS website. 

This program is not designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year institution for a bachelor's degree. 



Principles of Accounting I 4
Intro to Environmental Science 4
Interpersonal Communication  3
Leading Adventure Programs 3
Outdoor Education Practicum  4
Entrepreneurship 1: Mindset
Outdoor Recreation
Wilderness First responder or Wilderness EMT 4
General Psychology 4

View the course catalog for a full list of electives (page 109).



Writing Level I 3
Writing Level II 3
American and Wyoming Government 3
Oral Communications 3
University Studies 1

Get to know your instructors!

Darran Wells

Associate Professor of Outdoor Education, Leadership

Darran Wells grew up racing mountain-bikes with his father in Houston, TX.

Stacy Wells

Instructor of Outdoor Education

Stacy Tostrup Wells has been teaching professionally in the outdoors for more than 20 years.

Jacob Urban

Outdoor Education

As an undergraduate professor, guide, program director, corporate trainer and business owner, Jake has been teaching in the outdoors for more than 20 years.

CWC Credit By Examination Policy for NOLS Course Graduates

What is Credit By Examination?

Enrolled CWC degree-seeking students in good academic and financial standing may request
college credit by examination for courses numbered 1000-2999. Not all CWC courses have the
credit by examination option available. All examinations for NOLS courses are prepared, graded, and administered by the Associate Professor of Outdoor Education and Leadership.

How do I take the exams?

Contact your academic advisor about your wish to obtain educational credit through the
Credit By Examination process. The academic advisor for Outdoor Education and Leadership is Darran Wells (307-855-2063 or Email). For NOLS courses, Associate Professor Wells is also the CWC course faculty who will administer the exam.Complete and submit the "Credit By Examination" request form below to the appropriate academic division chair for her approval and signature. For NOLS course grads, the appropriate division chair is the Dean of Workforce and Community Education, Lynne McAuliffe (307-855-0095 or Email ).  
If the request is approved, make an appointment with Associate Professor Wells to schedule a testing date, time, and location. A receipt for payment must be presented to the instructor before the test can be administered.
NOLS grads seeking CWC credit must also have the NOLS Admission Office scan and email an official copy of your NOLS course evaluations in advance to Darran Wells

 When / Where can I take the exam?

Credit By Examination tests are scheduled at a mutually convenient time with the course faculty.  Exams may be taken on the Main Campus in Riverton, at the Lander Center, at Sinks Canyon Center, or by skype or phone for students out of state.

 How long do the exams take?

The test length, question type and time limits vary according to course and faculty. You are
encouraged to discuss this with the faculty administering the test before the actual test date. NOLS grads should expect to spend up to an hour discussing: their individual performance on their NOLS course, what they learned through the NOLS experience, strengths and weaknesses, and characteristic curricula of their course type and location. There is no written component of the exam process.

 How much do the exams cost?

The fee for Credit By Examination is the per credit tuition rate without fees and must be paid at
the Business Office prior to taking the exam. NOLS grads may receive up to a full semester (12-19 credits) of credit through the  credit by exam process.

 How will I get my scores?

The CWC Registration Office will mail a copy of the completed Credit By Examination
request form. The grade received will be noted at the bottom of the form. Grades will be
transcripted and available through the CWC Home Page at by logging in through the MyCentral portal.

 What if I do not do well on the exam?

If you do not score high enough on the examination to pass the course, you can enroll in the
course or request the Credit By Examination option again. You may seek credit by examination
for any given course only once in a twelve-month period.

 What will appear on my CWC transcript?

The grade received on the examination will be listed on your transcript, added to the hours
earned (if grade is "D" or above), and computed into the cumulative grade point average. The
grade earned through Credit By Examination replaces the previously awarded grade when

Words of warning!

If the student transfers without graduating from an Associate Degree program at CWC, credits earned through Credit By Examination may not be accepted for transfer at another institution. Credits obtained through credit by exam cannot be counted toward full-time status for financial aid purposes.

Let the adventure begin

If you have an interest in anthropologyenvironmental sciencegeospatial information systems technology (GIST), or outdoor education you can begin your studies and career on top of the Rocky Mountains as part of the Alpine Science Institute at Central Wyoming College.  

Student on glacier