NMU's School of Health and Human Performance has a new year-round outdoor education center. A 30-foot circular yurt has been installed in a wooded area east of the PEIF.
“This gives our outdoor recreation leadership and management students an opportunity to practice their craft in a more relevant environment,” said professor Jacquie Medina. “A traditional indoor classroom is not where they'll be teaching; they'll be outside. The opportunity for students to deliver lessons in a yurt, where they'll also have access to the resources they need, is exciting.”
“Shortly after I arrived here, I was walking around and saw a class outside on a drizzly day, with the students under tarps,” said Liz Wuorinen, associate dean and director of the School of Health and Human Performance (HHP). “I asked why we didn't have an enclosed outdoor education area. It's great that we now have one.”
Classes likely to get the most use out of it include education in outdoor settings, Wilderness First Responder, outdoor living skills, program design in leisure services and wilderness stewardship. But it will be available to anyone within HHP. Erecting the yurt proved to be an effective team-building activity.
“When we put it up recently, almost every faculty member showed up and worked together to make it happen,” said Professor Scott Jordan. “It's thrilling to see that kind of support. It was a little harrowing at first because of the size and weight. We needed an alpine package to handle U.P winds and snow loads, so the roof joists are heavier and the materials are more durable. NMU construction management majors built the platform it sits on and the wooden ramp that leads up to the door as a senior project during the fall semester.”
The school has used the wooded area in the past for various outdoor activities and Wilderness First Responder simulations. Jordan said it will be nice to have an education space on site to complement those and save time that would normally be required to shift to indoor classrooms.
Outdoor recreation leadership and management will host a “welcome back to school” function in the yurt at the beginning of the fall semester. Wuorinen said a campus open house is also planned at some point.
See a time-lapse video of the installation here.