Mid Michigan College launches new outdoor education effort with industry experts

Young outdoor enthusiasts now have a new educational pathway to blend their passion with a possible future profession, thanks to a new course that will debut this fall.

Mid Michigan College recently launched a new program in collaboration with Rusted Rooster Media, a nationally known and award-winning outdoor production company based in Midland, and several other partners to advance outdoor education and experiential learning opportunities. Coined Expedition Hunting & Angling Scholars, the program explores the ways hunting, fishing, land management, media production, conservationism, safety, and promotion of the great outdoors are connected through coursework, projects, and storytelling opportunities.

The program is the second effort of its kind in the nation to incorporate experiential outdoor activities in this way. The program at Mid Michigan College was modeled after the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program at the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama, which was the first program of its kind. The University of Montevallo’s program has experienced significant growth and interest since it started in 2015 with eight students and now is nearing 100 enrolled applicants.

In addition to experiential learning, mentorship and instruction, the new program at Mid Michigan College builds on the model and will offer several degree paths for students who are interested in creating career paths within the outdoor industry, including career paths into Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and Mid Michigan College’s Outdoor Media Transfer and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Pathways.    

Jason Brown, co-founder and executive producer at Rusted Rooster MediaThe new Expedition Hunting & Angling Scholars (HAS) program kicks off its first year this fall for the 2020-21 school year. The program’s first cohort is capped at 16 students and there are plans to grow from there. To be eligible, applicants only need to be a full-time student and have an interest in the outdoors. A $500 scholarship is available to help offset some of the costs associated with the program.

As part of the program’s schedule, students will have four outdoor-focused classes and be able to participate in one outdoor adventure per year as part of the course for no additional cost. Students are able to participate in additional events if they choose. Events range from salmon fishing, to turkey hunting, to learning from experts such as acclaimed Michigan bow hunter John Eberhart and more.

Jason Brown, co-founder and executive producer at Rusted Rooster Media in Midland, will be sharing his expertise in adventure film and will host one of the four classes, a workshop on visual storytelling. As part of the effort, Michigan Outdoors will be doing some interviews with the group and students will also be required to film their adventures, create a YouTube channel, create their own podcast, website, and blog. Work from the class will be aired on an upcoming Michigan Outdoors program.

Brown echoed the importance for starting a program of this nature in Michigan and the need for this training within the industry.

“I’ve been immersed in a career in the outdoor industry for over 20 years and can honestly say I can’t imagine being a part of anything else. The Expedition Hunting & Angling Scholars and Outdoor Media Transfer Pathway will connect students to real-world opportunities that currently exist,” says Brown. “There’s a true lack of talented individuals who also possess an outdoor skill-set in many areas of the industry, so building a feeder system for outdoor brands, marketing agencies, as well as media and production houses has never been more important.”

The blend of real-world, hands-on experience with the instruction and mentorship from industry professionals, and a mapped career pathway and progression are something that sets the effort apart.

“Well over a year in the works, it is really exciting for us to be able to kick this program off. We are thrilled to be able to work with outdoor experts like Jason and John, and offer students invaluable access to industry veterans as a part of this hands-on, dynamic composition of outdoor education,” says JJ Mertz, Mid Michigan College faculty member and HAS program director.

And while the 2020-21 school year might seem like a strange time to launch something new, Mertz says that the program actually fits in quite well.

“More than half of the program can be completed virtually, and much of the time otherwise is spent outdoors, so this actually complies quite well as everyone adjusts to different learning environments and program styles in the upcoming school year,” says Mertz.

For more on the Outdoor Media Program and the Expedition Hunting & Angling Scholars application, visit: https://www.midmich.edu/academics/programs-of-study/arts-communications/outdoor-media

For more on Mid Michigan College’s degree pathways, visit: https://www.midmich.edu/academics/programs-of-study/all-degrees-credentials