Academic Relationship with UNCW Results in a Trio of Field Courses

NCOAE Headquarters

December 02, 2017

The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) has forged an academic relationship with the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) that will see UNCW students earning up to six academic credits for participating in and completing educationally-focused backcountry expeditions thousands of miles from campus and lasting up to a month.

Beginning next spring, UNCW students can study in magnificent outdoor classroom settings that include Chile, Patagonia or Alaska. As a result of this accord between the university and our North Carolina-based outdoor adventure organization, these adventure courses are now counted among the approved academic activities for the university’s Department of Environmental Sciences (EVS) students.

The trio of field courses — timed to coincide with scheduled breaks during the University’s 2018/19 academic year — provide UNCW students with some serious hands-on outdoor activities and lessons that are pretty much guaranteed to remain in their memory banks and metaphorical tool chest for the rest of their lives.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Participating students can choose an outdoor education-based expedition exploring the Andes Mountains in Chile, for instance, skiing the second-largest mountain range in the world — which means experiencing the best powder South America has to offer.

In Patagonia, there’s whitewater paddling and mountaineering on the “to do” list as students experience much that Chile and Argentina have to offer, including Cascadas de las Ánimas, Baños Colina, Volcan San José, Río Tolten and Río San Pedro.

And backpacking in central Alaska provides students with 32 full days in the wilderness area that makes up the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Known as America’s largest National Park, this remote area within our 49th state is the setting for this fly-in backpacking-based outdoor education adventure.

Deepening NCOAE’s relationship with UNCW

This new educational relationship between NCOAE and the university is not a first. For the past few years, we have offered skills certification training to UNCW students from our facilities only 10 miles from the university campus. However, the recent academic relationship is the first time we have teamed up to offer extended destination adventures as part of UNCW’s Environmental Sciences curriculum and course catalog.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Hill, Chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences, these 24- to 32-day university courses are expected to offer much more than just an outdoor adventure. Each offers certification in Wilderness Medicine training, Avalanche Mitigation and Snow Science training, as well as training in Leave No Trace’s outdoor ethics.

Aside from obtaining certificates that are highly-sought by prospective outdoor educators and their employers alike, each course offers training in instructor-level use of NCOAE’s accredited curriculum, remote expedition planning, wilderness risk management, backcountry navigation, and more. And because of the unique nature of the offering, UNCW faculty will accompany NCOAE field instructors and students on initial trips, assuring cohesion between classroom and wilderness-based learning.

A limited number of seats are available for each course

Students signed up for these multi-week adventures will return home with a genuine understanding and experience in wilderness education in extreme environments. That’s an advantageous improvement over their counterparts on other campuses that obtain a great deal of their outdoor learning in a classroom setting.

Students interested in enrolling in NCOAE’s courses can do so in early April when SeaNet, the university’s online registration platform, opens for spring 2018 class and course enrollment. The three NCOAE courses approved for UNCW academic credit are: Summer ’18 EVS 485/592 (Alaska backcountry and glacier travel), Summer ’18 EVS 485/592 (Chile backcountry ski & snowboard), and Winter Break ’18/’19 EVS 485/592 (Patagonia whitewater paddling & mountaineering).

For those with questions about NCOAE, which is a nationally accredited provider of outdoor- and wilderness-based education and training, call founder and executive director Zac Adair at (910) 399-8090/

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