Leaders in the Field
OL students learn from highly qualified instructors who lead by example in a classroom unlike any other—the great outdoors.
Dr. Rob Dussler
Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Outdoor Leadership,
Director of Outdoor Leadership Center
I earned my M.Ed. in Outdoor Education Administration from Georgia College and State University in 2001 and earned my Ph.D. in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Georgia in 2014. I am originally from Texas but love living in the southeast. I love being on rivers—fly fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, anything. I am married to Anna and have two kiddos, Gus and Tillie. I remember when I interviewed at YHC, I was impressed with the amount of personal attention, warmth and genuine excitement that people extended to me. I was instantly hooked and felt like this was a place where I could thrive professionally and personally. No doubt, the same authentic care is extended to students. One of my favorite aspects of teaching outdoor leadership at YHC is the educational environment. By environment I mean physical and social. This is such a great jumping off point for some really special outdoor places. The classes are small, intentional and are held outside much of the time. It's also very common for students to come into my office and ask if I want to go “fire up the Ocoee” that weekend! It’s really fun to share our excitement for outdoor adventure together, whether we are in class or just for fun. I think my biggest hope for our students is that, above all, when they graduate, they will know who they are and have passion and conviction about their life.
Instructor of Outdoor Leadership and Assistant Director of the Outdoor Leadership Center
Whether I’m hiking along the meandering paths of the Appalachian Trail or paddling a canoe through the rivers and lakes of North Georgia, I always feel at home surrounded by nature. I am passionate about people and helping others find their way through this experience we call life. My first love was soccer, and I played collegiately while earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I was able to get outside and explore the mountains, rivers and trails of North Carolina. I quickly fell in love with the outdoors and knew I wanted to pursue a career in experiential education, so I went on to earn my master’s of education degree in outdoor education administration from Georgia College & State University. I am now entering my third year at Young Harris College and can’t imagine a better institution to be investing my time, energy and passion in. During my time at YHC, I have learned, laughed and grown right alongside our students as we engage in learning opportunities that cultivate holistic development. I teach a variety of courses, from tree climbing to senior seminar, and while canoeing is probably my favorite, I enjoy them all. I am a lover of learning, and a student of life. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, backpacking and canoeing. I still play soccer from time to time and am a coach in the local youth league. I am contemplating pursuing a doctoral degree in the field of experiential education, but for the time being I am having a lot of fun establishing myself in the YHC community and developing our program.
Dr. Joseph Pate
Assistant Professor of Outdoor Leadership
The trails of one’s life take you to many adventures. Some are side pursuits fostering interesting forays for a brief time. Others afford affirming trajectories and orientations that continue to hone one’s grander purpose and vocational calling. I am excited that the trails of my life have led me back to the mountains of my home state of Georgia. Having completed my doctoral work at the University of Georgia, I am thrilled to combine my past academic pursuits in psychology, philosophy, outdoor education administration, and recreation and leisure studies to help fellow co-journeyers as they develop and grow personally and professionally. Innovative curriculum and experiential platforms and contexts, such as the out-of-doors, afford spaces and opportunities for each one of us to seek, search, rejuvenate and steep ourselves in all of creation. Specifically, I am interested in studying and fostering connection: connection of self to self, self to others and self to the larger community of which one is a part. Through these connections, one gains meaning, a sense of purpose and place, and takes up the calling to become fully human. Young Harris College, through its three missional imperatives, to “educate, inspire and empower," celebrates fellow soul searchers as they embark on the transformational miracle that education, community and critical engagement through a progressive liberal arts model affords. My wife Jenny, children, Abby and Wes, and myself are honored and humbled to share in the walking of life’s trails with all those who we find a-sauntering. And as an often extolled expression to those I encounter on the metaphorical and literal paths of life, I extend to you “Happy Trails” on your personal journey towards meaning, significance and vocational calling.