Love to ski? You could work and hit the slopes at the same time

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Jan 2, 2018 at 4:59 PM

BANNER ELK, N.C. –  Snow bunnies take note: Lees-McRae College will be introducing new outdoor-based certification courses during its upcoming spring semester.

Developed through the Lees-McRae Outdoor Recreation Management program in partnership with ski resorts such as Beech Mountain Resort, the program’s new courses will now allow students and members of the community a chance to obtain National Ski Patrol Certification and Snowboard Instructor Certification. 

The Outdoor Recreation Management program will host Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder and Leave No Trace Master Educator certification courses not only to students, but also others interested. Each course will be offered through nation-wide programs such as Landmark Learning, NOLS Wilderness Medicine and Leave No Trace – all of which “seek to educate communities on safe and sustainable exploration of the outdoors,” according to the release. 

The program previously offered courses in snowboarding and skiing before expanding the program. 

“We’ve always offered a few skill courses, but they didn’t come with certifications. There hasn’t been this professionalization attached to a lot of these outdoor skill courses in the past,” said Katie Wall, director of the program. “Now, instead of just learning to ski and snowboard, they can become a certified ski or snowboard instructor or get a National Ski Patrol Certification, so we’re starting to build on the program by adding that aspect.”

As for courses that teach first aid, Wall said these skills are not only needed for the growing Appalachian outdoor recreation job market – they’re also practical skills others should familiarize themselves with. 

“There’s a huge demand for this, not only for ski resorts but for outdoor recreation as a whole,” she added. “And a lot of people who go outside for fun need to know what to do if something serious were to happen. Whether you’re working at a summer camp, raft guiding or leading a Boy Scout group, it’s a big need.”

Beech Mountain Resort Director Talia Freeman, an alumna of Lees-McRae, said the new additions to the college’s program are unique to the region. She said the new courses should help expose students to the different job opportunities offered within the local ski industry. 

“We thought it would be nice to give students more exposure to the ski industry and get people certified to be a ski or snowboard instructor and offer a ski patrol course,” she said. “We’re always looking for more instructors and we have a really strong ski patrol program here. We have well over 100 patrollers, but for me personally growing up here, I don’t think there’s enough exposure for the ski industry and the fact that you can make a career out of it.”

The certification course dates are as follows: Wilderness First Aid, April 7–8; Leave No Trace Master Educator, July 30–Aug. 3; Wilderness First Responder, Aug. 4–12. For students, the new courses will count as three credit hours. 

To learn more about the Outdoor Recreation Management program, contact Katie Wall at 828-898-2484 or at wallk@lmc.edu. More information about this program and other programs at Lees-McRae can be found at www.lmc.edu.