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Western Carolina University Offering New Program for Aspiring Outdoor Industry Professionals

Photo courtesy of Western Carolina University Marketing

Western Carolina University announced the launch of a professional outdoor industry certification program last week. The goal is to offer students coursework that focuses on the business side of the outdoor industry, economic development, public lands, and natural resources policy sectors. 

“We are leveraging and combining our academic excellence and experience in professional education with our outstanding and innovative outdoor-focused curriculum and deep connection to the nation’s burgeoning outdoor recreation economy to offer this affordable, dynamic, and flexible professional outdoor certificate,” stated the Cullowhee-based school on the program’s new web page. 

The certificate program will have two tracks offering core workshops in either Small Business/Entrepreneurship or Leadership/Management. Participants will leave with skills and knowledge in growing business, enhanced leadership skills, design, developing outdoor products, and more.

“Career opportunities in the outdoor industry exist far beyond guiding, outfitting, lodging, and park services,” according to the program website. “The outdoor recreation industry creates jobs for an array of highly skilled workers in diverse fields such as policy advocacy, community economic development, manufacturing, sustainability, and global commerce and employs product developers, programmers, media experts, small and large retailers, and many other professionals.”    

WCU law and business professors will teach some of the courses and work with Andy Coburn, the university’s current Outdoor Industry Liaison, who is helping tailor the courses to the outdoor industry. Students must take eight, six-hour workshops (five core and three electives), and they can also build their own certificate by taking one workshop at a time towards the core and electives. 

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