College students learn from local ski resorts
JEFFERSONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Most students will be sitting in classroom seats and typing away while a teacher talks, but some will be heading up a chairlift instead.
“Enjoy it at the same time because it is hands-on. It’s not just PowerPoints, it’s not just essays,” said Annabelle Hipp, a Northern Vermont University senior.
Hipp says she’s excited to hit the slopes for college credit.
“Especially because I didn’t know it was a career when we first started,” Hipp said.
Her education is in Mountain Resort Management, part of NVU’s Outdoor Education and Leadership Department.
Her day at Smugglers’ Notch is spent shadowing employees across the network of jobs from ski patrol to communications, slope-side and behind the scenes.
“Just being able to work, as well as learn, it’s very interactive,” said Hipp.
“What we are trying to do with the program is create the future of the industry, create the future of the ski industry,” said Sean Doll, an associate professor at NVU.
This Mountain Resort Management Program is one of three bachelor’s degrees in the country and the only one on the East Coast.
Doll says while there is bookwork like resort law, the real learning looks like skiing.
“We are in the field doing field-based learning at a resort,” said Doll.
The ski industry has been subject to the same moguls all tourism has felt, meaning prepared industry professionals are going to be valuable for years to come.
“We are at Smugglers’ Notch which is annually one of the best family mountains in the country, so they get to see what that’s all about and what that means, and they get to meet industry professionals,” said Doll.
“Getting to new mountains, you see a lot more and you find out so many new things where you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I want to try that,’ and ‘This sounds so cool, and I want to learn this and I want to try that,’” said Joe Bartolini, a sophomore at NVU.
The class has six partner resorts these students will get to tour.
Employees at Smugglers’ Notch say programs like this one help secure the future of the industry.
“From the ski patrol side, a lot of in the general national ski patrol, the population is aging and getting younger people in and incorporated is extremely helpful,” said Ethan Costello, assistant ski patrol director.
“It’s evolving, and it just keeps getting better and better and it gets more people involved. Not everyone wants to be a skier, maybe they want to be a snowboarder, so as long as we get more people outside and enjoying it, how can you beat it,” said Hugh Johnson, the Smugglers’ Notch Snow Reporter.
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