Title

Getting Wild at School: adopting a Wilderness-based orientation program

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The Freshmen Wilderness Experience (FWE) is the first extended orientation program at the University of Montana, and its long-term viability, success, and financial status are unknown. In seeking to address these unknowns, we have identified three research questions: are there areas in which the program may be improved, can this program succeed in successive years, and does this program benefit the University of Montana’s recruiting and retention goals? We identified areas of potential improvement by talking to participants in the first year. The areas they suggested are leadership curriculum, and education modules. We will incorporate leadership and skills curricula from outside sources. In addition, we plan to create our own education modules for students in areas such as map reading and navigation skills, and natural history content. Evaluating the potential success of this program will require research into similar institutions with similar programs and review published literature on the subject. We will assess aspects of comparable university programs and incorporate these components in this program. Primarily, we will examine the accessibility of access to the public lands on which this program will take place. We will speak with five ranger districts in Montana to build relationships with and work towards receiving permits for present and future participants of FWE. FWE will address problems that the University of Montana faces such as student recruitment and retention. The allure of a Wilderness focused orientation draws in many potential students that are choosing their school based on geography.

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Apr 17th, 1:40 PM Apr 17th, 4:10 PM

Getting Wild at School: adopting a Wilderness-based orientation program

North UC Ballroom

The Freshmen Wilderness Experience (FWE) is the first extended orientation program at the University of Montana, and its long-term viability, success, and financial status are unknown. In seeking to address these unknowns, we have identified three research questions: are there areas in which the program may be improved, can this program succeed in successive years, and does this program benefit the University of Montana’s recruiting and retention goals? We identified areas of potential improvement by talking to participants in the first year. The areas they suggested are leadership curriculum, and education modules. We will incorporate leadership and skills curricula from outside sources. In addition, we plan to create our own education modules for students in areas such as map reading and navigation skills, and natural history content. Evaluating the potential success of this program will require research into similar institutions with similar programs and review published literature on the subject. We will assess aspects of comparable university programs and incorporate these components in this program. Primarily, we will examine the accessibility of access to the public lands on which this program will take place. We will speak with five ranger districts in Montana to build relationships with and work towards receiving permits for present and future participants of FWE. FWE will address problems that the University of Montana faces such as student recruitment and retention. The allure of a Wilderness focused orientation draws in many potential students that are choosing their school based on geography.