Recognized outdoor recreation industry curriculum in state competition

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Those who live in the Grand Valley—and many who have visited it—are familiar with the beautiful Riverfront Trail that follows the Colorado River from Robb State Park to Loma, Colorado. What some community members may not be aware of is that there is room for improvement when it comes to access in the nearby town of Clifton. However, Valeria Herrera, a student at Colorado Mesa University, not only knew about it, but brought attention to the regional scene.

Herrera, who is studying at CMU in the Outdoor Recreation Industry Studies program, submitted a project on this topic to compete in the third annual Wright Collegiate Challenge. The Challenge is a semester-long process designed to inspire students to delve into the needs of the outdoor recreation industry and find ways to improve it. It takes creative and innovative thinkers, like Herrera, and helps them hone their problem-solving skills.

Herrera’s project was a success. She won the Special Recognition Award for her community-focused work, and she was not alone in her efforts. Four teams of CMU students competed in the competition which addressed the challenges of today’s world in the outdoor recreation industry.

There were 10 teams from three colleges that participated. A group of CMU students who made up Team Pathway to Dreams worked with Eureka! McConnell Science Museum and won the audience award.

“Our students have done an outstanding job of partnering with Colorado businesses and organizations to develop real-world solutions to industry challenges,” said Sarah Shrader, Outdoor Recreation Industry Studies Program Director. air. “This next generation of outdoor recreation industry professionals are bright, hard-working, innovative and mission-driven. During the Wright Collegiate Challenge, they were able to develop skills to lead this growing industry. I am so proud of these students, their perseverance and their passion.

“This next generation of outdoor recreation industry professionals are bright, hard-working, innovative and mission-driven. During the Wright Collegiate Challenge, they were able to develop skills to lead this growing industry. I am so proud of these students, their perseverance and their passion. – Sarah Shrader, Outdoor Recreation Industry Studies Program Director

Outdoor recreation is one of the fastest growing economic engines in the United States, with $887 billion in consumer spending annually. Through Shrader’s experience, she was a driving force in the creation of CMU’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Studies program, which began in 2020. Students enrolled in the program learn through a combination of classroom and real-world experiences, such as the Wright Collegiate Challenge.

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Written by Kelsey Coleman

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