College of DuPage, Hinsdale District 86 partner in outdoor living skills course

The College of DuPage Field and Experiential Learning Department and Hinsdale Township High School District 86 Bridge Program have encouraged student growth in learning outdoor life skills. .

The initial course offering was launched in 2019, when District 86 Bridge Case Manager Justin Ladas approached COD Experiential Education and Training Coordinator Gib Egge to collaborate on a program for Bridge program students to create a smooth transition from high school to COD.

Eager to provide an opportunity for these students, Egge and Ladas developed an outdoor life skills class for the group.

“We are grateful that our Bridge program students are able to earn COD credits while learning more about recreation, nature and leadership skills through this course,” Ladas said.

Through the District 86 Bridge program, students making the transition from the Disability Education Act (IDEA) to the United States Disability Act (ADA) build their executive functioning skills necessary to manage schedules and jobs. college-level courses. Students learn about the COD campus, transit systems, and opportunities for social engagement.

In the first credited course in 2019, students traveled to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park and learned about wilderness boating, outdoor cooking, outdoor ethics Leave-No- Trace and basic skills of outdoor life, while improving get acquainted with each other and with the staff and get acquainted with the courses at the university.

COD Field and Experiential Learning, Study Abroad and Global Education Manager Maren McKellin said partnering with District 86 is an opportunity for them to learn more about the community they serve.

“The Bridge program is another opportunity to connect with our larger community,” she said. “We are grateful to have had the chance to come into contact with a group of students very early in their journey into higher education, with whom we can share the many benefits of experiential education and our passion for the outdoors. “

Last summer, the students traveled to the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve and Kickapoo State Park near Champaign, Ill. Over a weekend of camping, students enjoyed night hikes and learned about camp crafts, wilderness boating, and the outdoor Leave-No-Trace ethic.

“I don’t normally work with this kind of population, but the experience is always rewarding,” Egge said. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are using the finite resource of our public lands, and many of these people don’t know how to use these areas without harming them in some way. I am happy to say that all of the students who took this course came away as better stewards of the earth. We hope they will teach others what they have learned. “

For more information or partnership requests, contact Egge at (630) 942-2787 or [email protected]

Learn more about Field Studies, Study Abroad, and Global Education at

Learn more about the District 86 Bridge program at