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SUU Declared The Most Outdoorsy School In The Nation

Keith Howells
SUU student takes a break after a long day of backpacking

The 2017 Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge ended Sunday leaving Southern Utah University with the title of the most outdoorsy school in the nation.

The challenge is sponsored by a non-profit organization call Outdoor Nation and encourages college students and members of their community to do more outdoor activities by associating each activity with a certain number of points.

In order to earn points a participant must participate in an outdoor activity for a minimum of 30 minutes. The activity then must be logged using the Outdoor Nation app. The rules on what counts as an outdoor activity are pretty lenient, ranging from hammocking and stargazing to backpacking and trail running, as long as the participant is outside for more than 30 minutes the activity counts.

Whichever institution had the most points by October 15 is declared the Most Outdoorsy School in the Nation.

With these rules SUU marketing advisor Nikki Koontz says she is not surprised that her university won.

“We have so many programs that have some kind of outdoor component and engaged learning aspect to it that getting outside for us feels easy and natural,” Koontz said.

But it took more than just good outdoors programs and Cedar City’s close proximity to many of Utah’s national parks and forests for SUU to win. University President Scott Wyatt and his community got together every morning to earn points for their school.   

“We meet before six and start at six and just do a half an hour and then at 6:30 we do a run along the East Pence trail from the C trail, trail head,” Wyatt said.

According to Wyatt the challenge did more for SUU that just get the community outside.

“It will get us some attention.” Wyatt said. “I will do something positive for our reputation but ultimately one of our main initiatives at the university is increasing retention and what we find in all the research is that the more students feel connected, the more they have friends and have things to do, they feel like they faculty and staff are interested in them. The more all that exists the more students are likely to stay.”