HARRISBURG - It's a natural fit.
Southeastern Illinois College is located at the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. There are a number of state parks within 20 miles. It seems like a no-brainer for the college to offer a degree program in outdoor recreation.
SIC hopes to begin accepting students for the program in 2013.
"It's not like anything else in the state," said Dan King, an outdoor recreation\tourism business specialist at SIC. "There are a couple programs up by Chicago that are more parks based, more urban planning. SIU does have a four-year program, but in terms of the community college market, there are no two-year programs offered in the state."
King has a curriculum outline completed. The curriculum is heavily geared toward hands-on experience.
"We've gotten approved through our curriculum committee for all the classes," King said. "We've gotten approval thought he board for the program itself and we'll be shipping this off to the Illinois Community College Board in the coming weeks. We're going to shoot for regional approval so that we'll have more access to DNR districts and Crab Orchard (National Wildlife Refuge)."
Approval for the program would come by this spring. However, King said the college needs to market the program for a year to attract enough students.
"We had done a survey in the area and the high school students in the area, this was one of their primary picks," he said. "We'll have a variety of internships, both in the governmental and non-governmental side of things. We're really excited about this."
King said he sees the program serving a variety of purposes.
The program can serve as a solid foundation for students seeking careers in the IDNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the U.S. Park Service. However, King said some of the classes will be beneficial to community members who already operate tourism-related businesses.
"We're going to also try to make this very tourism based and include maybe hospitality-type classes, just trying to develop our tourism industry as well," he said. "The goal is to give people some opportunity to learn to be a better educator, or also how to start their own business or support the small businesses that are here already."
King will be the instructor for several of the classes. And, he said getting students hands-on experience is vital.
"We really want people to see the lay of the land," he said. "I know when I left college there was that major reality shock, what things were like. I think when you leave school you're really excited. You don't realize there are times when you just have to mow the lawn or clean up the outhouses."
The program will also include basic management classes.
"There are a lot of things you don't learn in school, how to manage employees and leadership skills," King said. The goal is to have all these classes to support good healthy working environments for the business owner that wants to come in, or, for that matter for the employee that wants to come in and get a better idea of what it takes to manage a small business."
For more information, call King at 618-252-5001, ext. 6.
firstname.lastname@example.org / 618-351-5088