As most of us Michiganders hunkered down and braced against the cold at home inside this January, Drew Hutchinson was braving the elements outdoors as part of a training program that will help him better serve his students.
Hutchinson, manager of Student Life at KCC, spent five days and four nights in mid-January earning a Master Educator Certificate through the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The organization is devoted to educating the public about adhering to “minimum impact practices” when interacting in the natural world, and its Master Educator Course is its most comprehensive training.
The program was offered through Southern Illinois University’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Carbondale, not far from Giant City State Park. Hutchinson and his training cohort spent the better part of a week trudging through the Southern Illinois wilderness, hiking, learning, eating and sleeping out of doors.
The goal was to provide him with the training and expertise needed to expand upon experiences he himself provides to students at KCC, primarily through the College’s registered student organizations and the Student Leadership Institute, which teaches the practical importance of skills like communication, critical thinking and teamwork.
The Leave No Trace model is a training style Hutchinson, who earned the rank of Eagle Scout before starting his own college experience, is familiar with.
“Outdoor experiences are powerful tools for learning,” Hutchinson said. “You learn a lot about yourself, your peers, your choices and all of their outcomes.”
Adding outdoor experiences to the College’s spate of leadership offerings for students could prove appealing to the many students who already love the outdoors, he said, who grew up hunting, kayaking or canoeing, cross-country skiing or hiking sections of the North Country Trail.
“This would be leadership training that meets them where they’re at, and teaches them ethical leadership,” he said. “Additionally, it would expose students who have not had the opportunity for outdoor experiences (weird thought in Michigan, I know) to have those experiences that will stick with them on their journeys.”
The recent certificate training also qualifies Hutchinson to run his own LNT Trainer and Awareness courses, which opens up possibilities for future programming at KCC.
Hutchinson hopes before the end of the year to add to his skill set further by earning a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification, an industry standard for outdoor professionals who may need to provide emergency care in the wilderness. It’s just one more step toward offering more opportunities for KCC students.
“I believe that all experiences have the opportunity to be good leadership training, and the best experiences take you outside what you would consider your traditional comfort zone,” Hutchinson said. “Taking people out of their element really gives people a chance to think outside the box, and challenges them to look at problems through new lenses. Pair that with some ethics and critical thinking, and you’re cooking up some truly bodacious leadership training and human growth.”
This is an expanded version of an article that first appeared in the March 2021 edition of KCC’s BruIN magazine. View more BruIN magazine content online at www.kellogg.edu/bruin-magazine.
(Photos courtesy of Drew Hutchinson.)