Tanya Sushkova is University of Richmond's first outdoor leadership intern for the Recreation and Wellness department. Nov. 7 to Nov. 9, she attended the 2013 Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education Annual Conference.

Sushkova attended the conference with Lucia Anderson, the outdoor and facilities coordinator for the Weinstein Recreation and Wellness Center. Anderson created the outdoor leadership intern position.

Anderson said some of Sushkova's responsibilities as the outdoor leadership intern had included assisting in developing and implementing an Outdoor Adventure Manual, a Risk Management Manual and a Trailer Safety Manual. She is also responsible for working with the Natural High Program and increasing campus use of the outdoor Odyssey Course.

The biggest part of Sushkova's job has been researching other schools' models of outdoor education with Anderson in hopes of bringing some of the ideas and programs to Richmond.

Anderson said her ultimate goal was to find a way to tie academics to the outdoors for the Richmond community. She said this could come through a variety of means, whether it would be from the leadership school, environmental studies, a first-year seminar or through programs such as Earth Lodge.

"I believe that a lot of the outdoor programming is extremely relevant to getting the professional skills that students need to graduate and have a successful career," Anderson said.

Sushkova said she thought outdoor trips would be a beneficial aspect of many other universities' programs to bring to Richmond. She also said outdoor programs could be expanded abroad.

"We have a really strong study abroad program," Sushkova said. "So to incorporate outdoor education and leadership into the international programs would be beneficial to the university because it just opens your eyes to new experiences."

Sushkova also said an outdoor trip could help freshmen bond with one another at the beginning of the school year.

Anderson said many of the universities that led the field of outdoor programming in academic settings were at the AORE conference.

"It's been kind of abstract," Anderson said, "so I thought it would be a good idea for [Sushkova] to attend this conference."

Sushkova said the conference had been helpful because the schools she had been researching all semester were there, and the opportunity to talk to their representatives in person had been valuable.

Sushkova and Anderson attended sessions at the conference on bike-sharing programs, risk management in the outdoors and academics in outdoor classrooms.

At the end of her internship, Sushkova will be writing a proposal on how to best create an outdoor experiential learning program at Richmond.

Contact staff writer Katie Evans at katie.evans@richmond.edu