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Outdoor Education

Get an inside look at CWC's Outdoor Education program

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Outdoor Education and Leadership

Associate of Arts Degree

The Outdoor Education & Leadership degree program is for the student interested in careers in outdoor education, environmental education, adventure programming, or conservation. This unique program combines wilderness expeditions and outdoor skills courses with natural history and a liberal arts curriculum. The program emphasizes leadership development and experience-based education. CWC’s Alpine Science Institute offers a range of courses that use non-motorized travel (hiking, skiing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting) to visit and learn about remote wilderness areas in and around the Wyoming Rockies.

The Outdoor Education & Leadership program is a 4-semester program for the student ready for college-level courses. A student who places into pre-college math or English courses may require a preparatory semester before beginning the four-semester program. Most majors choose to live at the Alpine Science Institute (ASI) near Lander, WY. In the foothills of the Wind River Mountains, ASI offers unparalleled opportunities for reflective solitude, outdoor adventure, and study of the natural world. The student pays an equipment fee which grants access to mountain bikes, snow bikes, cross country and downhill skis, snowboards, rafts, canoes, paddleboards, climbing and camping gear.

The student has the option to spend up to one full semester taking wilderness-based courses with the Nols. Nols offers educational expeditions at remote, pristine locations in the US and abroad. To receive college credit for Nols courses, students must enroll concurrently in the appropriate corresponding course at CWC. For example, CWC students taking a Nols semester course should be enrolled in G&R-2050, G&R-2031, and EDUC-2050. For more information on Nols, visit or call 1-800-710-6657.

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

  • 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 at the Alpine Science Institute.

As part of the program, there is an 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, enroll concurrently in the appropriate corresponding course at CWC. For more information on NOLS offerings visit the NOLS website. 

Course Number Course Credits
BIOL 1080Intro to Environmental Science4
EDUC 1055Introduction to Outdoor Education3
ORTM 2470Outdoor Education Practicum4
ORTM 1000Foundations of Recreation & Tourism3
ORTM 2410Outdoor Leadership3
HLED 2010Wilderness First Responder4
HLED 2015Wilderness EMT9
Students must choose seven (7) additional credits from the OEAC courses above or from the following list of approved courses:
Course Number Course Credits
ANTH 1300Intro to Archaeology3
ANTH 2022Petroglyphs & Primitive Art3
ART 2145Digital Photography I3
ASTR 1050Survey of Astronomy4
ASTR 1070The Earth: Its Physical Environment4
ATSC 2000Introduction to Meteorology4
ATSC 2110Introduction to Climatology4
BIOL 1010General Biology I4
BIOL 1020Life Science4
BIOL 2002Global Ecology3
COMM 1005Intercultural Communication3
COMM 2130Human Relations3
COMM 4050Communication and Conflict3
CNSL 1310Personal Growth Group1
CNSL 2300Counseling for Helping Professional3
CNSL 2310Introduction to Group Counseling3
CNSL 2320Addictions Assessment3
CNSL 2330Counseling Diverse Populations3
CNSL 2340Theories of Counseling3
EDFD 2020Foundations of Education3
EDFD 2450Human Life Span Development3
EDUC 2015Outdoor Educator:1-5
EDUC 2045Outdoor Leadership Instructor1-5
EDUC 2050Outdoor Education & Leadership1-5
ENR 1005Trailbuilding I1-3
ENR 2005Trailbuilding 24
ENR 2150NAI Certified Interpretive Guide3
ENR 2425Mountain Environments4
G&R 2032Winter Expedition:1-5
G&R 2033Rock Climbing:1-5
G&R 2034Water Expedition:1-5
G&R 2035River Rescue Certification1
G&R 2050Environmental Ethics & Management:1-5
GIST 2110Techniques in Cartography4
GIST 2135Applied GPS for GIS3
GIST 2310Intro to Geographic Information Systems4
GEOL 1070The Earth: Its Physical Environment4
GEOL 1100Physical Geology4
GEOL 1200Historical Geology4
GEOL 1470Environmental Geology4
HIST 1270Indians of the Wind River3
HLED 2015Wilderness EMT9
NAIS 1005Intercultural Communication3
NAIS 1350American Indians in Contemporary Society3
NAIS 2000Indians of the Wind River3
NAIS 2290History of North American Indians3
OEAC 1400Avalanche Level 11
OEAC 2020Mountaineering:1-5
OEAC 2030Wilderness Backpacking:1-5
OEAC 2031Combined Expeditions:1-5
OEAC 2400Avalanche Level 22
ORTM 1100Bicycle Mechanic3
ORTM 2100Mountain Bike Skills Instructor 12
PSYC 1250Human Potential Seminar1
PSYC 2210Drugs and Behavior3
ZOO 1200Human Biology3
ZOO 2015Human Anatomy4
Writing Level I (WR1) 3 credits
Writing Level II (WR2) 3 credits
American & Wyoming Government (POLS 1000) 3 credits
ARTS 3 credits
HUM 3 credits
LSCI (in program)
MATH 3 credits
ORAL 3 credits
SOC 3 credits
UNST 1 credits

Total Credit Hours: 60

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.


We offer certifications in Mountain Biking, Trailbuilding, and Wilderness EMT


Outdoor Program Leadership

Take the next step in your outdoor leadership journey. This 8-semester program offers students an administrative perspective of the outdoor recreation service industry that includes learning, training, and assessment of leadership and program management skills. The program is especially appropriate for students wishing to: start their own outdoor-related small business, manage an outdoor recreation or education program, or build a career in leadership of parks, recreation, tourism, or natural resource management.

Get to know your instructors

Professor of Outdoor Education and Leadership

Darran Wells is passionate about all kinds of outdoor activities – hiking, climbing, caving, and skiing, but mountain biking is a sport he dedicates most of his free time to.

Adjunct Professor of Outdoor Education and Leadership

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

Adjunct Professor of Outdoor Education and Leadership

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