OEL welcomes Nate Smith as new director

Holly Burns, Contributing Writer

The Outdoor Education & Leadership program (OEL) at the University welcomed a new program director, Nate Smith, on Feb. 18. Smith explained that he was drawn to the University because of “the students, the environment, and the administrative support for this program.”


“I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of pride and stoke in the OEL program from each of the students that I had the opportunity to interact with during my initial oncampus visit,” Smith said.


OEL gives students the opportunity to participate in off-campus trips and provides camping, canoeing, and backpacking gear that students can rent on their own. OEL has many exciting events coming up, including the annual Canoe Battleship run in conjunction with Activities & Campus Events (ACE). In addition, OEL has an Outing Club which holds trips for students every weekend. These “trips range from hiking, caving, biking, and a bunch of other outdoor activities.”


Smith specifically applauds the administrative support here at the University.  “Dean [Amy] Badal, Dean [Kari] Conrad and their teams in Student Affairs and at the CAP center are all true professionals and provide a support network that encourages success and advancement both for each other, but also the students at Bucknell,” he said.


Another reason that Smith chose the University was that he felt it provided an overwhelming sense of community that he, his wife, and his Australian Shepherd can become a part of.


Smith has a very extensive background with traveling. He not only spent time living in London, Scotland, and Malaysia, but he also attended school in Utah where he was able to experience several different outdoor terrains. Smith’s favorite outdoor activity is climbing, as it allows him to experience contrasting environments. His favorite outdoor education memory was visiting the Colorado River, which borders the Wall Street Climbing area, with his college friends. “This was a life-changing moment for me. I became obsessed. Every chance I got, I started going outside and exploring,” he said.


While Smith loves the outdoors, he is also passionate about cooking. He loves all different types of cuisine but is particularly skilled at cooking chicken pot pie from scratch. “Cooking is something that my wife and I enjoy doing together. Food and I have a really positive relationship. What better way to enhance it?” he said.


Other OEL staff members are also very excited about Smith’s arrival. Four-year member of OEL Isa Bjorkeson ’20 was a little wary about the transition to a new leader in the middle of the year. However, she said she is “extremely excited to have Nate join the OEL team this year. His background in managing an outdoor company and working in an outdoor education program in Utah brings a unique perspective that I believe will benefit the program. He has helped us to start by creating a very strong foundation for the program.”


Kameron Winters ’21 had similar sentiments. “I think Nate is a great addition to our team. He has a lot of positive energy and experience that I think OEL needs right now. I am very excited to get to know him better and hear his ideas as to how we can better the program moving forward,” Winters said.


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