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UNH named as top 10 school for outdoor fun

In a piece published on Feb. 3,  Money magazine named UNH as one of the “Top 10 colleges for people who love the great outdoors.” Among the schools from various locations across the United States, UNH stands seventh on the list.

According to the writer of the piece, Kaitlin Mulhere, schools were selected from the top half of Time’s Annual List of Best Colleges. To be included in the final selection, colleges and universities must have an outdoor related club or organization among the five most popular groups at their school. Finally, the schools are ordered by the amount of national parks and national forests in a 100-mile radius of its location. UNH’s close proximity to various outdoor activities and its second largest student organization, the New Hampshire Outing Club (NHOC), were the aspects that led to the university’s place on the list.

“I’ll be the first to admit the qualifications aren’t perfectly scientific,” Mulhere wrote in an email.

UNH junior and NHOC president Luke Violette said the goal of the student group is “to give UNH students the opportunity to enjoy and take advantage of the phenomenal outdoors that New Hampshire has to offer.”

The club is operated entirely by students with a core group of 50 trip leaders that bring approximately 200 students on various trips every semester. The majority of trips are geared toward beginners with no prior outdoor experience.

In addition to offering students many fun and alternative ways to spend their free time, UNH outdoor education clinical associate professor Lorie Gullion said that the university’s close proximity to the outdoors also enhances its students’ education. According to the College of Health and Human Services’ website, UNH has 10 majors that enable learning through outdoor engagement.

“We have the ability to have absolutely incredible field experiences for students,” Gullion said. “And we can do it without leaving campus or by traveling short distances.”

Gullion also highlighted her ability to launch her Sea Kayaking Leadership Development program on a nearby river where students learn first hand how to maneuver tidal flows in a way that helps them to develop their group leadership skills.

UNH Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Adventures programs offers opportunities similar to that of the NHOC, but is available to students even when school isn’t in session. According to the program coordinator, Madeleine Smith, Outdoor Adventures offers a “friendly and accessible environment” for students of all mastery levels to learn and enjoy UNH’s great campus. Depending on the time of year that the trips take place, some activities the program includes are ice climbing, snowshoeing, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.

“UNH’s location was one of the top reasons I wanted to come here,” Smith said. “ You’re half an hour from the beach, you’re two hours from the White Mountains, and Maine is within a hop, skip and a jump.”

According to Gullion, research shows that exposure to nature can decrease the stress of daily life and can benefit an individual’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

Senior recreation management and policy major and Campus Recreation special projects intern Nick Alley noted how important it is for students to take time away from laptops and phones to enjoy the outdoors.

“Just getting that extra sense of, ‘hey let’s go out in the wilderness [and] take advantage of what we have […]’ I think that can go a long way,” Alley said.

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