Teaching and Learning – Outdoor Nation

We’d like to take time to learn more about a teaching and learning opportunity and why it matters to the Mountain View College (MVC) family.

By Lori De La Cruz.

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What teaching and learning opportunity recently occurred at Mountain View College (MVC)?

MVC recently participated in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. For six weeks we encouraged students, faculty, staff and community members to “get outside.” Participants earned points by taking selfies while doing outdoor activities and then posting the photos to the Outdoor Nation app. It was so easy! Every week was a new challenge and a chance to win great prizes like backpacks from Osprey or North Face, a really nice hammock from Grand Trunk, a $75 gift card from Adidas, and tote bags and water bottles from REI. All you had to do was hike, stargaze, camp, walk, fish, skateboard, garden, birdwatch…even hammock! Eighty-eight people participated and posted 583 activities over six weeks – it was a tremendous campaign!

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What about this topic are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about people experiencing the outdoors. You don’t need to climb mountains or kayak a treacherous river to enjoy being outside. Lots of the posted activities were just people walking their dog or enjoying a picnic lunch at the park. Sure, the campaign celebrated those who did the most or used the right hashtag during the right week, but it all boiled down to people spending time outside. Every participant I talked to mentioned how much fun they were having and many made their children get involved – outdoor family time!

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Why is this topic so important to everyone at MVC?

At the most basic level, this challenge offered opportunities to be in nature and appreciate it. Nature isn’t just going to the Arboretum or the park; it’s all around us, everywhere we go. Even a stray weed poking up through a crack in a concrete parking lot is nature. It is both persistent and beautiful. We need to slow down and appreciate the nature that surrounds us, especially on our college campus! Our urban forest is a gem in Oak Cliff that hosts an abundance of biodiversity and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

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What did participants learn or take away from this experience?

I can’t speak for others, but I learned that we have the most fun when we’re with our friends and classmates, and we’re celebrating nature without even realizing it. I have a great photo of two ECHS students roasting marshmallows around the grill with Dr. Davis. All around them students were laughing, trying out the hiking meals, checking out the solar ovens or just taking a break from class. They’re all just taking a few minutes to enjoy the sunshine and the camaraderie.

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We also did a nighttime activity hosted by the Astrophysics Club: Tents and Telescopes. Around dusk we roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and hung out talking until it got dark enough to use the telescopes. I’ve never used a really nice telescope before, so imagine my delight when I saw Saturn and its rings just a clear as if it were a few feet away! And did you know that the sunrise/sunset on Mars is blue, not red/orange like ours? We got to see it and it was awe-inspiring! And the best part was that students participated who have never been and didn’t know what to expect. (BTW: the Astrophysics Club hosts star parties every month and the experience is stunning!)

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What is some of the feedback you received regarding this event?

The feedback has all been positive. People have been purposefully getting off the couch and heading outdoors. Even at work, participants were taking time to walk during their lunch hour. And they have been really surprised this week as I’ve been delivering prizes; many folks were having so much fun that they forgot they were competing for prizes!

A special congratulations goes out to Lorena Faz as officially being “MVC’s Most Outdoorsy Person!”

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If people would like to learn more about this topic, where would you point them towards?

Classes:

Trails:

Just Get Outdoors:

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