North Country Community College (NCCC), located in the heart of northern New York’s 6 million acre “Forever Wild” Adirondack Park, is a two-year unit of the State University of New York (SUNY). NCCC offers 16 Associate degree programs and 5 Certificate programs serving a student population of approximately 1,700. One of NCCC’s oldest programs is the Associate of Science degree in Wilderness Recreation Leadership (WRL).
The WRL degree program has been training aspiring outdoor educators, professionals and guides for nearly 30 years, and prepares students for an entry-level position in the outdoor industry and/or transfer to a four-year degree program. By offering students hands-on opportunities to practice leadership and wilderness skills in a backcountry setting, WRL offers a unique and unparalleled college experience. Areas of program emphasis include risk management and safety, professionalism, environmental awareness, outdoor technical and interpersonal skills, and wilderness issues. The WRL student population comprises traditional and non-traditional college students from diverse backgrounds with career goals ranging from wilderness therapist to commercial guide.
Small class size and ample opportunity for individual attention creates a rewarding learning environment for both students and staff. Ideally located, the WRL classroom often reaches into the Adirondack Forest Preserve to maximize student learning and development. The pinnacle experience in the WRL program is “Practicum Semester” which is comprised in part of two expeditions: a 27-day Canoe/Backpack Fall Practicum and an 11-day Winter Practicum. Throughout the degree process, WRL seeks to nurture students’ passion for the outdoors and related activities, develop professional skills, and foster personal growth.