Outdoor/ Environmental Educators

Many of our graduates become outdoor and environmental educators in formal and informal educational settings. Here are some profiles of a few of our alumni who chose this career path.

Emmalee Agnew

Emmalee crossing a river with a fully loaded backpackHBOR/BSc (Natural Science) 2012; BEd (Intermediate/Senior) 2013

Emmalee is living her dream life in Whitehorse, Yukon. She teaches Grade 3 at Golden Horn Elementary School, which embraces outdoor education through the Great Outdoors Experiential School ‘GOES’ program from K-7.

Before Golden Horn’s Grade 7 students graduate, they go on a fall hike on the Chilkoot trail as many gold miners once did, and complete a spring canoe trip on the Yukon River to Dawson City. Emmalee is one member of a team of colleagues who make these trips possible. Highlights include spending time with students on the land in the beautiful Yukon wilderness. Emmalee spends her summers exploring the amazing northern landscape under the midnight sun.  She truly is living the Rec’er dream!

Kat Hill

HBOR + Entrepreneurship Certificate, 2019

image of Kat HillMy current position is Education and Outreach Support at Bow Habitat Station (part of Alberta Environment and Parks). I deliver  both in-person and virtual field trips and public programs relating to Alberta’s fish, water, and biodiversity. I also develop new programs based on the needs and wants of clients, the organization, and ensure that environmental literacy goals and relevant curriculum ties are met. Additionally this year, I am helping out with a provincial program called Fish in Schools where classrooms across Alberta get to raise rainbow trout from egg to fry before releasing them in stocked water bodies!

I worked with youth through a variety of jobs and volunteer opportunities including summer camps, Scouts, and the Underground Gym in Thunder Bay so I knew I loved spending time and sharing knowledge with kids. I also love learning about science so it seemed fitting that I could learn and teach about things like wetlands and fish. 

The interpretive hand signs for Leave No Trace in OSAT 1 literally helped me get my job; I used them in an interview when they asked me to demonstrate interpretive/public speaking skills to talk about the environment. Moral of the story, backpocket games and activities are your best friend forever. Land Relations in first year and Programming in second year have also been sources of timeless knowledge as I create place-based programs for a wide variety of audiences and in many formats including school field trips, badge groups, birthday parties, and family events. 

Chris BrittPortrate of Chris Britt

HBOR/BSc 2009, BEd (Intermediate/Senior) 2010

I graduated from the ORPT concurrent education program in 2010 and went ahead and moved out to Vancouver British Columbia to pursue a career in education. I took a position at York House School, a medium sized private school on the West coast. I teach in the senior science department, both junior classes and senior, while overseeing the outdoor education program.

The biggest perk to the job is being involved in the Outdoor Education Program at the school. The program runs from grade 3-10 and offers a variety of experiences, culminating in a 4 day backpacking trip up a local mountain. Teaching and getting to know the students out of a formal classroom setting is an amazing experience. It does incredible things for the classroom dynamic. I am also involved in risk management at the school, from offsite activities to day to day operations.

The school of ORPT prepared me as a facilitator and educator. It prepared me for work in coordinating, managing and running off site activities for youth, both from the risk management perspective and the facilitator role.

Leadership and reflection are an integral part of any educator, and Lakehead's ORPT program offers both. Very rarely do you get a program that can zero in on such interpersonal skills. Along with the faculty and staff provided a life changing education, one key component that cannot be forgotten is its setting. The Thunder Bay campus offers a university experience like no other. Something that truly needs to be experienced and preserved. As a student if you are looking for a unique, one of a kind and meaningful education look no further.

Brendan Hughes

portrait of Brendan HughesHBOR/BA (Geography & History) 1998; B.Ed (Intermediate/Senior) 2004; M.Ed 2009

One of the best things that I could have ever done with my life was to go into ORPT. I thought I would be taking an easy program in something I thought I was already good at, and I can recall in my first month already learning that this would not be the case. We wrote more papers than my English major friend. We were graded with more than just marks, like pass or fail when we were on lengthy expeditions.

I've taught every grade from 1 to third year of university. I've taught teachers to take their classes outside, and I can honestly say that I think some of the best teachers are those who have learned classroom management on a river, or on a climbing site, or far removed from civilization. Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism provides the background for good teachers.

I've also held the position of New Student Orientation & Commuter Services at Lakehead University. This job was like juggling one thousand balls at the same time and trying not to drop any while gradually accepting more balls and trying to smile at the same time. Currently I'm working at the University of Manitoba as their first Director of Student Life. Pretty much my dream job. We create opportunities for student success, and mostly the out of classroom opportunities as deliberate institutional efforts to enhance students' experience!

ORPT produces some of the nicest, finest, critically thinking individuals that you would ever care to meet...good people. I would prefer to hire someone good and teach them the job, than to hire someone who was good at the job, but not as good at being a person.

Thanks ORPT! To the staff and faculty who made/make the program so unique in Canada. To the teaching assistants and graduate assistants who give more than their time and talents. To the alumni and current students who live the spirit of ORPT. And to those adventurers who have journeyed into the afterlife but made the most of their time here on earth. Carpe diem.