AORE Annual Report 2014 - Page 10

Advocacy

When participants sign up for an overnight trip with Washington State University’s Outdoor Recreation Center, they have taken the first step towards learning and practicing environmentally responsible, sustainable outdoor recreation. In 2014, WSU’s team of roughly a dozen Adventure Facilitators issued 217 LNT certificates. Mostly comprised of LNT Awareness certificates, this number also includes the 10 or so LNT Trainer certificates provided by LNT Master Educators (professional staff) as part of the Backcountry Travel and Leadership (facilitator prep) courses. It’s a three-tiered system developed and administered by the Leave No Trace Center and executed by WSU’s Outdoor Recreation program. LNT Awareness courses provide a minimum of 30 minutes of educational content; Trainer courses draw from a curriculum that is at least 16 hours in duration.

Part of the ORC’s mission is to promote environmental stewardship. The decision was made in 2011 to officially include the LNT Awareness workshop into all overnight trips and all Eco Adventures (trips that are a mix of recreation and community service). While this has, at times, resulted in a few returning participants receiving LNT education more than once, staff haven’t received complaints. In fact, returners often appreciate and contribute immensely to the conversations. Rather than executing a canned approach, facilitators are encouraged to deliver educational content in their own style that is relevant to the program activity and environment, while also meeting the criteria outlined by LNT.org.

In practice, pre-trip meetings have been a convenient way to systematically introduce the principles of LNT, normalize trip expectations, and practice the principle of “Plan Ahead and Prepare.”

LNT Awareness is also easily delivered in a classroom-based workshop format, enabling expanded reach to non-trip participants, such as youth groups. The kids always get excited when we pull out the bear canisters and talk about

"respecting wildlife." Also held in high regard by youth, college students, and admittedly staff alike, is the principle, “dispose of waste properly,” which extends to disposal of human waste.

One of the finer points emphasized in WSU’s LNT Awareness programs is what participants can do, armed with their LNT education. Often discussed by participants is their commitment to share what they’ve learned with friends and family, some of whom “don’t camp that way.” Sometimes, during certificate awarding ceremonies, participants reflect on the LNT principle which has left its mark most heavily on them and how they plan to transfer this knowledge into future outdoor endeavors (e.g. minimizing campfire impacts).

People often remember best what they learned first. For many university outdoor programs, a participant’s involvement is their introduction to outdoor recreation as a whole, or to a new activity or place. While there are countless ways by which a university outdoor program might effectively promote environmental stewardship, WSU has found the benefits of integrating LNT’s structured approach and nationally recognized curriculum invaluable. As outdoor program administrators and educators, it is our responsibility to collectively educate as many individuals as possible about how to have fun outdoors while minimizing our impact. In doing this we are sustaining the environments in which we travel, access to the activities we love and enjoy, as well as the industry of outdoor recreation and education itself.

Leaving More Than a Trace

Washington State University’s Outdoor Recreation Center leaves more

than a trace in 2014: 217 Certified in Leave No Trace.

By: Jonathon Stahl

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