In late January, President Scott L. Wyatt and Southern Utah University alumna Abigail Wyatt were invited to speak at the Outdoor Foundation’s presentation on the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.
As the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, the Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts.
The Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge was designed to spark and grow outdoor communities and inspire an active outdoor lifestyle. With a focus on creating an environment that incentivizes college students to take the first step toward getting outside, it further develops their existing love and appreciation for the outdoors.
In the fall of 2017, SUU dominated the challenge, winning with 291,729 points, a 97,971-point lead over the next closest university. With 91 other schools competing, such as Utah State University, University of Maryland, University of Arizona and University of San Diego, SUU maintained a healthy lead from the very beginning of the competition.
During the presentation, recent graduate Abigail Wyatt talked about the impact the challenge had on the student’s at SUU.
“What amazed me about the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge was how excited people were about participating in the challenge.” said Abigail. “It was more than just the points. It was the Outdoor Nation experience that students were enjoying.”
More than 2,300 people participated for SUU ranging from students, faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends who logged a total of 14,974 outdoor activities.
President Scott Wyatt followed up these remarks, speaking about what the outdoors means to SUU.
“The value of the outdoors can be described in two ways; one, the utility. That is, the outdoors as a tool to help us with something else. And the outdoors for its intrinsic value. The value that’s there just because it's a great experience.”
President Wyatt stated that the challenge represented a campus-wide effort, with 28% of on-campus students participating. However, President Wyatt didn’t leave all the work up to the students. Out of the 291,729 points earned, Wyatt personally earned 3,477, placing him second for SUU and seventh in the nation.
“The outdoors for me has always been a very important part of my life.” said Wyatt. “It is my escape.”
During his presentation, Wyatt stated the 3 goals of SUU.
- Recruit quality students
- Give students a great educational experience
- Lead students to high outcomes
The Outdoor Nation Challenge is almost a direct reflection of SUU’s mission. By attracting students who share a value for, and interest in, the outdoors, SUU appeals to those who are passionate about protecting natural resources. The school also provides students with opportunities to learn outside the classroom walls, presenting them with real-world examples, situations, and challenges that are representative of various perspectives. In addition, outdoor activity can foster confidence, self-reliance, and appreciation for nature. Having completed a long hike, difficult climb, or intimidating journey establishes an attitude of accomplishment and what can be achieved through perseverance.
By participating and winning the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, SUU proved once again that the school truly is the University of the Parks.
Through groundbreaking research, youth engagement and community grant-making, the Outdoor Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. Since 2010, the Outdoor Foundation, on behalf of its partners, has invested more than $5 million into 930 nonprofit and college projects that have connected more than 262,000 people with the outdoors.
To view the full presentation, click here.