The Adventure Continues
By: Cameron Addertion ‘20, communications
Katherine Miller ‘19 entered college at NC State as an agriculture major but her experience with Wellness and Recreation opened her heart to the outdoors. Miller did not expect to leave college pursuing a career in outdoor recreation in higher education.
Miller’s family owns a small feed supply business in her hometown of Pittsboro, NC. Originally, Miller thought agriculture was the career path she wanted to pursue because she already had experience in the field, making it a safe choice. During her sophomore year, she took her first Outdoor Adventure class offered through the Department of Health and Exercise Studies–backpacking. Backpacking allowed her to get outside and be self-sufficient while receiving class credit. Katherine appreciated that backpacking allowed her to slow down and appreciate her outdoor environment.
“I enjoyed the time to take a breath and not worry what was next on my agenda,” said Miller.
The freedom she felt led her to enroll in more outdoor classes and eventually declare a minor in outdoor leadership. Miller has taken classes in topics such as backpacking, canoeing and mountaineering
Miller applied to work with Wellness and Recreation in the Spring 2017 semester to be further immersed in outdoor recreation. Miller was hired to work with equipment rentals and the challenge course. Currently, Miller has the responsibility of leading two to three trips a semester with eight to twelve participants as an Outdoor Adventure trip leader. The trips she leads can vary from afternoon hikes to overnight weekend trips. Miller and other trip leaders work behind the scenes to plan trips for students, creating exciting but safe trips. Trip leaders research the area and make a risk management plan as well as preparing the proper gear needed for the trip. During the trips, Katherine leads participants around the trails, sets up the camp, cooks and shares fun facts about the area.
Freedom is one of the things Katherine enjoys most about the outdoors. She is active outside of leading trips, hiking at least twice per week in her spare time. Currently, she is training to climb Mount Washington in New Hampshire during spring break. Elevated 6,228 feet above sea level, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern U.S. Lasting 10 days, Mount Washington will be her longest mountaineering expedition. The expedition will include ice climbing and avalanche safety training. She plans to reach the summit in three days as part of her expedition.
“Mount Washington is known for extreme temperature and this trip will probably be the coldest I have experienced,” said Katherine.
Her training regimen includes high mileage days of seven to 12 miles, which she does Friday afternoons taking her about four hours. To add variety to her routine, Katherine also hikes low mileage days consisting of three miles which only takes her about an hour to complete.
After she declared an outdoor minor and worked in Outdoor Adventures she desired to turn her passion into a career. Near the end of her undergraduate career, Katherine was debating whether she still wanted to pursue an agriculture degree she knew she needed to make a decision.
During her junior year, Katherine was able to attend the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) conference to learn about possible career paths. After attending the conference Miller was certain she wanted to further her education in collegiate and outdoor recreation. She decided that she would pursue a graduate assistantship as part of her graduate school experience to learn more about the field. In January, Katherine received an offer to attend the University of Arkansas, one of her top choices, and received a graduate assistantship. As part of her graduate assistantship responsibilities, she will supervise climbing wall operations and assist with the University Recreation trips program while pursuing a Masters of Education in recreation and sports management. Her career aspirations include continue working in the collegiate outdoor recreation field and continue getting students outdoors.