College of DuPage, Hinsdale District 86 partner on Outdoor Living Skills class
College of DuPage's Field and Experiential Learning department and Hinsdale Township High School District 86 Bridge Program together have encouraged students' growth in learning outdoor living skills.
The initial course offering launched in 2019, when District 86 Bridge Case Manager Justin Ladas approached COD Coordinator of Experiential Education and Training Gib Egge to collaborate on a program for students in the Bridge Program to help create a seamless transition from high school to COD.
Eager to provide an opportunity for these students, Egge and Ladas developed an Outdoor Living Skills class for the group.
"We are grateful that our Bridge Program students are able to earn COD credit while getting to learn more about recreational, nature and leadership skills through this course," Ladas said.
Through District 86's Bridge Program, students transitioning from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) support strengthen their abilities in executive functioning skills necessary for managing schedules and coursework at the college level. Students become familiar with the COD campus, public transportation systems and social engagement opportunities.
In the first for-credit class in 2019, students traveled to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park and learned wilderness navigation, outdoor cooking, Leave-No-Trace outdoor ethics, and basic outdoor living skills, all while becoming better acquainted with one another and the staff and becoming familiar with taking college classes.
COD Field and Experiential Learning, Study Abroad and Global Education Manager Maren McKellin said the partnership with District 86 is an opportunity for them to learn more about the community they serve.
"The Bridge Program is another opportunity to make connections with our greater community," she said. "We are grateful for the chance to connect with a group of students very early in their higher ed journey, with whom we can share the many benefits of experiential education and our passion for the outdoors."
This past summer, students traveled to Middle Fork River Forest Preserve and Kickapoo State Park near Champaign, Illinois. Over a weekend of camping, students enjoyed night hikes and learned camp craft, wilderness navigation and Leave-No-Trace outdoor ethics.
"I don't normally get to work with this kind of population, but the experience is always rewarding," Egge said. "Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are using the limited resource that is our public lands, and many of these people don't know how to use these areas without harming them in one way or another. I am happy to say that all the students who have taken this class left as better stewards of the land. We hope they will teach others what they learned."
For more information or partnership inquiries, contact Egge at (630) 942-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Field Studies, Study Abroad and Global Education at www.cod.edu/field.
Learn more about District 86's Bridge Program at d86.hinsdale86.org.