Jessica Myer, Guest Contributor • firstname.lastname@example.org
This upcoming fall semester, the Emory & Henry College Outdoor Program gained a new staff member. Program Coordinator Alex Versen is an experienced whitewater instructor and outdoor leadership mentor. He will be highly involved with efforts to turn the Out- door Program into a recruitment tool for the school.
The Outdoor Program Coordinator position was originally created to support the Adventure Team, which is part of the college’s new recruitment effort.
“The Adventure Team is for students who are currently involved in outdoor recreation, and who are looking to make that a big part of their college experience,” Versen said. Adventure Team members will be recruited from local high schools to engage in a mentorship program that will help them develop outdoor leadership skills.
Across the school’s many disciplines, mentoring groups are being created to allow students to continue exploring their passions in college. These organizations, including the Adventure Team, Marching Band, Rugby Team, Disc Golf Team, and STEM Cohort are all considered “affinity” groups. “It’s a little bit about interest and what students want to do outside of the classroom, but it’s also providing that mentoring piece as well that will help to enhance the experience,” said Dean of Students Kyle Cutshaw about the new affinity groups. Cutshaw oversees the groups that fall under the Office of Student Life. Each organization has a staff or faculty professional to provide expertise and leadership, Cutshaw said. For the Adventure Team, Versen serves as that mentor. He will advise Adventure Team students on backcountry skills, leadership techniques, whitewater paddling, rock climbing and more.
The Adventure Team will also have a presence at regional adventure sport competitions. Students will have the opportunity to participate in rock climbing and whitewater paddling events. This semester, students will compete in the Triple Crown Bouldering Series and the Southeastern Downriver Championship, a kayaking competition on the Nantahala River. In addition to these events, the Outdoor Program will continue to run weekly trips and clinics for all of its members in the college community.
The coordination of these trips relies on Adventure Team members and Versen, their mentor. After graduating from Emory & Henry in 2012, Versen worked for the Outdoor Program through the summer of 2014. He then received his Master of Social Work from the University of Denver and spent time working in backcountry trip leading and wilderness therapy before returning to Emory. Versen said he hopes that the new competitive team will help to grow the Outdoor Program while still including the entire campus in exciting outdoor adventure education and activities.