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Outdoor Leadership Alumni Spotlight: James Turner

While James Turner earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from NC State, he discovered his passion for the outdoors in a basic rock climbing class, HESO 258.

The course introduced him to the Outdoor Leadership Minor, resulting in him signing up for as many classes as he could during his undergraduate studies.

James Turner as a Wilderness Ranger

Before graduating, Turner traveled to Denver for an internship in mechanical engineering. After graduation in 2015, he switched gears from engineering to his love for the outdoors and volunteered as a Wilderness Ranger in Wyoming during the summer of 2015. Turner returned to NC State to complete his master’s degree but continued to spend his free time outdoors.

After completing his master’s in 2016, Turner opted out of a desk job and moved to Utah. Currently, Turner works at Park City Mountain Resort in the dispatch office during the peak season. He focuses on ski patrol, guest services, and maintaining the ski lifts and runs. During the off-season, he works for the U.S. Forest Service in Utah. In this role, he works with visitor services, trail maintenance, trail building, and in patrolling.

Turner uses the fundamentals of the Outdoor Leadership Minor in various ways. He teaches safety briefings and basic trail guidelines to volunteers, and uses his backpacking skills often. He suggests students take advantage of all the opportunities and activity classes offered in the Department of Health and Exercise Studies. Most importantly, his Outdoor Leadership courses taught him to remember to stay flexible when dealing with the outdoors. “Things don’t always go the way you plan, but I learned in my classes to remain calm and adapt to circumstances,” said Turner.

One of the teachers that helped Turner throughout his experience in the Outdoor Leadership program was Professor Scott Schneider. Turner explained that Schneider was a helpful asset to his interest in the outdoor leadership. He became a mentor and friend. “The professors are there to help you, and they want to help you, so students should take advantage of that while they can,” said Turner.

Turner hopes to receive a permanent position in trails and wilderness management in the upcoming year. He plans to continue working outdoors, using the Outdoor Leadership skills he gained from the minor.

For more about the outdoor leadership minor: