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Endowed Adventure

Outdoor Program scholarship elevates student leadership opportunities

Located in the heart of the Grand Valley, Colorado Mesa University is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts. To help students get acquainted with their surroundings, the CMU Outdoor Program provides opportunities to explore Colorado and beyond through student-led trips. These trips range from hiking and mountain biking to river rafting and rock climbing.

To ensure the safety of trip participants, student trip leaders are required to obtain industry-standard certifications such as Wilderness First Responder, American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Avalanche Rescue and American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Climbing Instructor. However, these certifications can cost up to $1,000 each. To help alleviate these expenses, the Outdoor Program established an endowed scholarship through the CMU Foundation last fall. 

“These certifications not only help our students become better trip leaders here at the Outdoor Program, but they help them to be safer recreators in our community,“ said Outdoor Program Coordinator MacKenzie Holbrook. “They also give students more opportunities as they graduate and begin to look for careers in the industry.”

Thanks to the endowed scholarship, the Outdoor Program was able to award $2,000 to trip leaders during the 2022-23 academic year, allowing them to obtain their Wilderness First Responder and AIARE 1 Avalanche Rescue certifications.

“This scholarship endowment has benefitted me by allowing me to get my AIARE 1 certificate from the Silverton Avalanche School at a massive discount. The certification has helped me to make better-educated decisions in avalanche terrain as a trip leader for the Outdoor Program and as a recreator on my own time,” said CMU student and Outdoor Program Trip Leader John Wintering.

Fellow CMU student and Outdoor Program Trip Leader Carter Burnham echoed Wintering’s sentiment and said, “my Wilderness First Responder certification has had a significant impact on my ability to successfully navigate outdoor settings while feeling confident I can maintain a positive, safe setting for all involved.”

In May, the Outdoor Program hosted a black-tie Masquerade Gala and silent auction to raise additional funds for the endowed scholarship. Silent auction items donated by community industry leaders included a fully rigged sixteen-foot oar frame raft, a ten-foot-ten-inch Hala Rado Stand-Up Paddle Board Package, tickets to the Palisade Bluegrass Festival, a Northwest River Supplies Bucket of Straps, Downtown Grand Junction gift cards, art created by Outdoor Program students and more.

More than $17,000 was raised at this year’s masquerade gala. All proceeds from the event went directly into the scholarship fund.


Written by Madelynn Fellet