Outdoor Program Green Efforts

BGSU Outdoor Program Gives Back with Eco-Friendly Programs

The University’s Outdoor Program (OP) offers a variety of outdoor activities and trips to enthusiastic outdoor participants such as white water rafting, rock climbing trips, hiking trips and kayaking workshops. In addition to its multitude of adventurous outings, the OP strives for sustainability by engaging staff and participants in Eco-friendly practices through its sustainability and Green programming. The OP’s Eco-friendly programs include Leave No Trace (LNT) Education, Green Initiative Partnerships and Environmental Service Events.

In fact, according to Jerome Gabriel, director of the OP, the Outdoor Program has always practiced green initiatives since the program’s start in 1999, he said.

“The most significant of which is the use of the Leave No Trace  principles of outdoor sustainability,” said Gabriel. “There principles have been a foundation of how the program interacts with the environment and are taught to all participants regardless of the type of trip that they are participating in.”

According to the OP’s website, Leave No Trace Education is designed to educate “outdoor enthusiasts” about the ways in which they impact the environment during outdoor recreational activities as well as the techniques they can use to reduce their impact on the environment.

The program is administered by two trained and certified Leave No Trace Master Educators as well as 10 Trainers. The Master Educators and Trainers administer over 20 awareness workshops, multiple trainer courses and one Master Educator course. The addition for the LNT Trainer and Master Educator courses give the courses validity and certification to the knowledge gained by all participants of the program, Gabriel said.

During the program trainers and Master Educators learn various techniques which are applied during a weekend or an entire week spent in the back country, Gabriel said. During their stay in the wilderness, trainers and Master Educators practice building mound fires, grey watering, dismantling man-made structures and cleaning up heavy trafficked areas, he said.

The second way in which the OP strives for eco-friendly practices is through Green initiative partnerships. The OP has partnered with the BGSU Sustainability Office and the BGSU Student Green Initiative Fund. Together, the OP and BGSU Sustainability Office offer annual events such as the ECO-fair and Earth Week displays.

This partnership began when BGSU Sustainability Coordinator, Dr. Nicholas Hennessy, became a trip leader for the OP’s Freshman Wilderness Experience program which is run by Gabriel. After finishing his fourth year as a trip leader last August, Hennessy and Jerome discussed the importance of sustainability and green initiatives in the OP’s various programs and as a result of these discussions, the partnership between the two programs was born.

“[The partnership] began because I have a huge interest in outdoor programs and my job/life is sustainability,” said Hennessy. “And I think Jerome has a huge interest in sustainability and his job/life is outdoor programs. So, it was a great partnership. Sustainability is becoming huge on college campuses and it is literally a part of appreciating and respecting the outdoors and the environment.”

Also, the OP’s partnership with the BGSU Student Green Initiative Fund has resulted in new Eco-friendly courses which may be included in future educational programming within the University. In fact, according to Hennessy, a course has already been included as a UNIV course.

Lastly, the OP organizes annual environmental service events to commemorate Earth Day. These events allow “outdoor enthusiasts” to give back to the land through trail maintenance,  and invasive species removal. All in all, the OP’s Earth Day commemorating events have resulted in nearly 100 hours of annual volunteer service to the local community.

For more information about how to get involved with the Outdoor Program’s sustainability and Green programming, please contact Jerome Gabriel, OP director, via email at jeromeg@bgsu.edu or phone at 419.372.2146. Also, please use the following links for information about other on-campus, Green programming such as Friday Night Lights, Green Tailgating and the Orange Bike Program.