Students interested in outdoor leadership are set to gather in Laramie next weekend for a seminar aimed at networking and skill development.

The Intermountain Student Outdoor Leadership Seminar, coming to Laramie for the first time, is set to run from Thursday-April 2 and feature presentations, workshops and field sessions led by undergraduates, graduate students and industry professionals.

Dylan Hall, a University of Wyoming graduate student who is coordinating the conference together with Nichole Lumadue, said students from Colorado and Utah schools will join their Wyoming colleagues at the seminar.

“It’s been styled in terms of getting universities together within the intermountain region,” Hall said.

Dan McCoy, who coordinates the UW Outdoor Program, said the seminar has mostly taken place in Utah since its start in 2008.

“We’re really pleased to offer this,” he said.

Participants will be able to attend presentations organized into skiing, climbing, whitewater and trails disciplines. One day of presentations will be classroom-based, with a focus on theory and interpersonal skills. Another day will be spent in the field, with a focus on technical skills.

They’ll also have the chance to check out UW’s new Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center and test their climbing skills in the Friday Night Bouldering Series.

Hall, a graduate assistant with the Outdoor Program, said the conference is unique in that it’s aimed at undergraduates and designed to help them develop a professional network. Other conferences in the industry are aimed at professionals who are already established in their fields.

Participants can work for programs like the UW Outdoor Program, they can be majoring in outdoor recreation leadership or they can simply be interested in the outdoors, he said.

“Being involved in this realm, you have to start knowing people and building those connections,” he said. “The easiest way to do that is to provide students a platform to meet other individuals, share ideas, do trainings, have fun and make connections. The easiest way to do that is a conference aimed at students.”

Hall said another area of discussion will be ways to make outdoor recreation accessible to everyone, which is a topic of national conversation within the industry.

“What are the obvious barriers to getting anyone involved in any of these programs? That’s another big takeaway and something we should be concerned about,” he said.

Hall said he’s also excited to show off Laramie and southeast Wyoming to visitors. The area is different than the Colorado Front Range or the Wasatch Range, where most people will be coming from. It’s close to established population centers while also offering access to wilderness and solitude.

“We’re in this really cool center where there’s not a lot of people, and you can still get that aspect of free open space and get lost in the wilderness, but you can still drive to these really populated areas,” he said.

Laramie might not have the reputation as an outdoor destination on par with its Colorado or Utah counterparts, Hall said, but it’s an adventure hub in its own right.

“Laramie is on the cusp of that,” Hall said.

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