Learn to lead
in the outdoor laboratory of the majestic Sierra Nevada

Outdoor Adventure Leadership

When ODAL students graduate, they have a large skill set. They can navigate through rugged terrain, cook a gourmet backcountry meal, facilitate a discussion on land ethics, climb a vertical wall, guide a raft down a river gorge, relocate a dislocated shoulder . . . all while practicing leave no trace principles.

But the skills that they learn that really matter in the “civilized world” are endurance, persistence, and resourcefulness. It is these three skills that are honed when one ventures out into the wild, and it is these three skills that make all the difference in one’s success in life.

The Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program at Sierra Nevada College is not your typical outdoor education major.

Like most other outdoor education programs, we spend much of our class time navigating mountainous terrain, climbing granite walls, descending snowy slopes, and maneuvering through river gorges, at one of the best outdoor colleges in the country.

However, UNLIKE other outdoor education programs, we move beyond the small group field experience to apply our leadership skills into the wider community through service learning and senior portfolio projects that require integration of disciplines.

It is this fusion of an independent study and an internship that enables a student to bring his or her skills learned in wilderness settings into the real world.

Through these projects, students gain professional experience working with non-profits, building their own business plans, organizing events, developing curriculum, teaching, and exploring innovative ideas.

Our Students Say It Best . . .

. . . Follow Their Adventures!

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Chase Cohee

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Ski Business and Resort Management

Class of 2012

Today I ski, love life, love my family, and strive to do everything that opens my eyes wide and makes me smile. . . . Read More

Makenzie O'Connor

Major: Environmental Science and Ecology, Outdoor Adventure Leadership

Class of 2016

I began my experience at SNC with a Yosemite backpacking trip, and immediately felt connected to the world in an entirely different way. For my senior research methods course, I designed a study to research the effects of prolonged wet and dry periods on soil denitrification in wetlands of the Sierra Nevada. Denitrification is an incredibly important ecological process by which nitrates are removed from soil and runoff, and it hasn't been studied in Sierra mountain environments! . . . Read More

Ask A Question

Rosie Hackett
Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program Director
775-831-1314 x7499

Katherine Zanto
Interdisciplinary Studies Program Chair

Scout Sorcic
ODAL Student Representative

Request Info   Apply Now!

ODAL Degree Requirements

ODAL is housed in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program and is not a stand-alone degree. A student must integrate ODAL with another discipline, such as Environmental Studies, Entrepreneurship, Psychology, English/Journalism, Ski Business Resort Management, and Art.

See how ODAL pairs with other disciplines
Interdisciplinary Studies Requirements

INTD 250 Principles of Interdisciplinary Studies 3
INTD 300 Service Learning 3
INTD 493 Senior Portfolio 3
Total Interdisciplinary Studies 9

Outdoor Adventure Leadership Requirements

ODAL 101 Introduction to Outdoor Skills 4
ODAL 201 Wilderness First Responder 3
ODAL 250 Fundamentals of Outdoor Leadership: Extended Field Experience 3
PHED/ODAL Choice of field courses (must be approved by ODAL director) 5
ODAL 301 Fundamentals of Environmental Interpretation 3
ODAL 350 or 351 Outdoor Adventure Leader Practicum or Wilderness Orientation Leader Practicum 3
ODAL 401 Outdoor Adventure Ethics and Land Management 3
Total Outdoor Adventure Leadership 25

*Field courses may have extra course fees to cover travel and equipment costs.

Skills Emphases
ODAL Majors may choose an optional 6 credit Skills Development Emphasis.

  • River Skills (Rogue River, Swift Water Rescue, Whitewater Kayaking, Whitewater Rafting, Upper Level River Field Course, etc.)
  • Backcountry Leadership Skills (Wilderness Orientation, Canyoneering, Challenge Course, Mountaineering, etc.)
  • Snow Skills (AIARE, Backcountry Skiing, Upper Level Winter Field Course, etc.)

Skills Development credit requirements can be fulfilled partly through the ODAL major requirements. Consult with the ODAL director to plan your program.

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