Get off the couch: U department wants students to go outside, enjoy Utah

The department of parks, recreation, and tourism wants U students to play for credit.

The department offers several winter sport outdoor classes such as skiing, snowboarding and cross-country for Spring Semester of which few students take advantage.

John Cederquist, director of the PRT department, has seen a dramatic decrease in enrollment for these classes.

“Since the University changed from quarters to semesters, we’ve seen our ski classes drop from 400 students to 80,” he said.

He believes the biggest reason for the lack of participants is confusion with the registration Web site. Most students mistakenly go to ESS Fitness courses when they actually need to go to the parks, recreation and tourism section.

The department is currently working with the registration office to help its link become more distinguishable from ESS.

“We want the students to have fun, learn practical life skills and…earn college credit,” he said.

The classes help students appreciate natural and civic environments, as well as teach outdoor recreation skills.

PRT assists 1,500 students a year with both credit and noncredit courses.

The department also offers degrees in Leisure Services Management, Tourism, Hospitality Management and Therapeutic Recreation.

These programs can be beneficial to students who want to pursue careers in the hotel industry, travel and forestry.

Natalie Clark, a snowshoeing instructor in the PRT department who received her undergraduate degree from the program, said that the problem with declining enrollment is simply because students are “unaware of the opportunities that our program offers.”

The classes are for introductory level participants. There is no reason for people to be intimidated by the program, Clark said.

Kirstyn Stockwell, a senior in PRT, said the 1.5 to 2 credit courses are great to fill extra space in school schedules.

Stockwell has taken hiking in Capitol Reef, ski mountaineering and backpacking/photography classes.

“Most of the trips I went on, I kept on asking in disbelief, ‘Am I really in school right now? This is a lot of fun.'” she said.

Cederquist believes that this is an excellent opportunity for everyone to experience what Utah has to offer.

“We want everyone to enjoy our beautiful state, especially for those students who are new to Utah,” he said.

For more information on the PRT department, visit its Web site at www.health.utah.edu/prt or call 801-581-8542.

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