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Meet the Trailblazers

Students in the OL program venture off the beaten path—and have unique stories to tell.

joshua schrader

HOMETOWN: dahlonega, GA

Other YHC Involvements: President of the Trail Club, Corncreek Review literary magazine staff, Creative Writing double-major  
I choose outdoor leadership because… I’m a non-traditional student who helped raise nine younger brothers and sisters who did not attend public school. I’d take them out into the vast nature preserve behind my parent’s house and we’d adventure and explore and talk about any subject they wished. I love nothing more than leading others out into the wilderness and showing them wonders they might not otherwise experience. 
My favorite thing about YHC is… the teachers. I have met so many kindred spirits who aren’t just interested in imparting facts to their students, but inspiring them to seek their own paths and answers to life’s questions.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Walking the beach the morning after our sea kayaking trip to Caper’s Island during Water Pursuits and watching the sun rise over the Atlantic. 
My future plans are… To go to graduate school in Alaska for Outdoor and Environmental Education focusing on interpretive education and storytelling. Possibly even to write for National Geographic.
I have already gained experience in my field by… Taking a road trip across the U.S. during the summer of 2016. I slept every night in a different national park on my way to work in the high sierra camps of Yosemite for hikers of the John Muir and Pacific Crest trails.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Taking mindful control of my journey through life and not just bouncing around at the whim of chance. It means making every day an adventure, whether outdoors or not, and striving to reach one’s full potential. It’s walking with others on this journey, guiding and aiding them until they are ready and willing to seek out their own unique direction.

paxton Spessard

HOMETOWN: cumming, ga

Other YHC Involvements: I am the co-president of a student led bible study called Underground, the vice president of the Spat Club, a gent in Gamma Psi, and an employee of the RCC. 
I choose outdoor leadership because of… the learning environment, the professors, and my fellow students not only push me to be a better thinker, but a better human being. It pushes me intellectually and physically, and it urges to notice the subtleties and complexities of the natural world. It puts me in places that connect me with my Creator, my friends, and myself, and equips me to be able to bring others into those places as well. 
My favorite thing about YHC is… The killer combination of incredible community and incredible location. 
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… On a trip in Land Pursuits, I watched the sunrise with Joseph in the freezing cold; the wind blew clouds right over our head, wild ponies grazed in a field behind us, and the early morning dawn lit up the frost on the evergreens…magic.  
My future plans are… I would love to work for a college or a university and help run the outdoor recreation program. And maybe eventually, I would love to be a professor in the field.
I have already gained experience in my field by… going on the  various class trips that are already built into our curriculum.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… going against the grain and not being afraid of the power of passion.

 

levie lines

HOMETOWN: kennesaw, ga

Other YHC Involvements: Rock Climbing Club President, JV Soccer  
I choose outdoor leadership because of… I want to spend my life doing things I am passionate about and sharing those experiences with other people.
My favorite thing about YHC is… The close knit community.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Partaking in mock trauma injury scenarios at WFR (Wilderness First Responder).
My future plans are… I would like to lead backpacking and climbing trips.
I have already gained experience in my field by… : I was a rock climbing guide at Camp Illahee in North Carolina. I also went on a 2 month backpacking trip in the Wind River Range!
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Creating meaningful experiences for other people in the outdoors.

Liam cunningham

HOMETOWN: savannah, GA

Other YHC Involvements: President of the Fly Fishing Club  
I choose outdoor leadership because of… I love the outdoors and I want to give people an experience so that they will have a greater appreciation for the outdoors.
My favorite thing about YHC is… I love the location and community. We are so close to just about any outdoor pursuit.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Our 9-day course to become certified as Wilderness First Responders.
My future plans are… I plan on becoming a fly fishing guide in Florida that takes out inner-city kids out and introduces them to fly fishing.
I have already gained experience in my field by… I work on a tarpon fishing guide boat during the summer.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Meeting some of the best people at the school, and learning how to give people a memorable experience that hopefully has a positive impact on their life.

Noah hamilton

HOMETOWN: rome, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Alpha Omega, Fly Fishing Club  
I choose outdoor leadership because of… Outdoors has always been my passion and I figured having a career in my passion would be cool.
My favorite thing about YHC is… The small, close community and all of the adventurous students.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Our Wilderness First Responder course and our Land Pursuits classes and getting ‘lost’ on the Appalachian Trail with Katie McNutt.
My future plans are… Go work for an Adventure Therapy Program and possibly start my own program.
I have already gained experience in my field by… I have worked as a counselor for 7 years.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Being intentional with others and leading individuals to a better understanding on themselves, others, and the environment they live in.

ryan tate

HOMETOWN: grayson, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Sigma Beta Sigma, SPAT Club, IRC (Inter-Religious Counsel), CDN (College Diabetes Network)  
I choose outdoor leadership because of… It gave me an opportunity to get to know myself through outdoor challenges and grow as an individual.
My favorite thing about YHC is… The small class sizes, the close relationships, and the culture!
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Flipping my kayak at Nantahala Falls during Water Pursuits! It was pretty tight!
My future plans are… To experience the world as it comes.
I have already gained experience in my field by… Embarking on a 40 day road trip through 16 National Parks from YHC to Big Sur and back!
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Being accepting of new challenges with a positive attitude and willing to share that experience.

katie mcnutt

HOMETOWN: acworth, GA

Other YHC Involvements: FCA, Underground, Women’s Lacrosse  
I choose outdoor leadership because of… Intro to Outdoor Leadership, I was drawn to the major. I liked the idea of being able to learn in a setting of the outdoors instead of a classroom.
My favorite thing about YHC is… the mountains all around us!
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… getting ‘lost’ on the Appalachian Trail with Noah Hamil.
My future plans are… to do Adventure or Wilderness Therapy
I have already gained experience in my field by… being a part of this major, coming in I did not have a lot of experience or knowledge but after this semester I cannot wait to further my experiences!
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… having the opportunity to educate others but also be educated in the aspect of the outdoors.

 

chase adams

HOMETOWN: duluth, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Kappa Sigma, SPAT, Fly Fishing Club  
I choose outdoor leadership because of… I grew up in a very outdoor-oriented family and wanted to pursue a career that gets others passionate about outdoors.
My favorite thing about YHC is… the people on campus, the people around town, and atmosphere of the school, and the breath taking beauty of the area around.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… our 9-day Wilderness First Responder course.
My future plans are… I want to teach outdoor education to high school students or work for a river conservancy.
I have already gained experience in my field by… having worked for multiple day camps and many personal trips with friends and family.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… living the dream every day of the week!

jack orr

HOMETOWN: gainesville, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Alpha Xi, Gent for Gamma Psi
I choose outdoor leadership because of… I love the outdoors and I want to share that love.
My favorite thing about YHC is… the location of the college and the community that surrounds it.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… our 9-day Wilderness First Responder course.
My future plans are… continue to work for White Water Express on the Nantahala River.
I have already gained experience in my field by… 3 years experience at Rainey Mountain boy scout camps instruction to gain Waterfront Merit badges. I have also had more than 2 years’ experience as a whitewater instructor at White Water Express.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… being a good steward of the outdoors. Share and promote passion and respect for the outdoors in a safe and professional manner.


Elle Hefner

HOMETOWN: gainesville, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Phi Alpha Phi, Sigma Delta Chi (Dorcas Chaplin), Sigma Beta (SPAT Sweetheart)
I choose outdoor leadership because of… I always find joy in the outdoors. It’s where I can find a place to think and be free. What better way to honor the thing I love the most then to major in it, and learn more about all the opportunities there are in the outdoor field.
My favorite thing about YHC is… The people are my favorite thing about YHC. You can never go a day without seeing someone you know. There is always someone to brighten your day.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… We went to the Hike Inn near the start of the Appalachian Trail, and while there we helped them out by building a fence for their new solar panels. While building the fence we had the best time laughing about a certain word that was brought up by the group several times. We laughed for more than 4 hours straight about the word. We had no idea why it was so funny but it brought a lot of joy to everyone there. It’s the little things that count the most.
My future plans are… I plan to go where the Lord takes me. I believe He led me to this major for a reason, and the work I do after college will all fall into place when I get to where I am going. . .Where ever that may be. 
I have already gained experience in my field by…
 furthering my understanding of who I am and getting hands on experience for what I am learning. Through the methods we use in this program I know that I will be able to grow as a professional and as a person.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… that I love what I do because it’s something that I care about. It means always learning new things and wanting to be the best you can be by challenging yourself every step of the way.

 

joey becnel

HOMETOWN: cumming, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Resident Assistant, Greek Life, Bookstore Employee, Campus Activities Board
I choose outdoor leadership because of… My greatest passion in life has always been the outdoors and I'm thankful for a major that taps into these interests.
My favorite thing about YHC is… How the squirrels are comfortable enough to stand really close to you while you walk to class.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Sliding down muddy hills on campus after a heavy rain.
My future plans are… Your guess is as good as mine.
I have already gained experience in my field by… Going off campus on both personal and scholastic trips kayaking, rafting, hiking, camping, etc.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Caring enough about the outdoors to educate others on how to protect and conserve natural places.

Maddie peek

HOMETOWN: dacula, GA

Other YHC Involvements: Lacrosse and Underground
I choose outdoor leadership because of… It points to a career more importantly and a life that is fulfilling to me. It pushes me to grow constantly as I learn more about myself and the world around me.
My favorite thing about YHC is… the community.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… My Cohorts Land Pursuits trip to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. It was FREEZING and snowy with +40 mph winds but we were in such awe of the vast beauty of our surroundings we could not help but be so pumped to be out there.
My future plans are… I hope to pursue career in outdoor ministry or adventure programming somewhere.
I have already gained experience in my field by… Logging hours in many different sports, getting Wilderness First Responder and Leave No Trace instructor certified, and working as a backpacking, rock climbing, and kayaking guide for teenagers.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… Courageously pursuing a most authentic life.

 

adam trull

HOMETOWN: peachtree city, GA

Other YHC Involvements: President of BMMG
I choose outdoor leadership because of… to enhance the way wisdom is instilled.
My favorite thing about YHC is… the community.
My favorite memory/moment (so far) is… Joshua’s death grip on his kayak going down a rapid.
My future plans are… bringing experiential education to English Literature.
I have already gained experience in my field by… all of the personal trips that I have taken.
To me being an Outdoor Leadership major means… changing the way people view education.