From the urban jungle to seeking adventure in the Gila

The new manager of Western New Mexico University’s outdoor program is no stranger to seeking adventure in any terrain, and Will Tracy is keen on creating memorable experiences for students while keeping an eye on expanding the program to include to include an eventual bachelor’s degree in outdoor leadership and adventure education, the first of its kind in New Mexico.

Growing up in urban Pennsylvania, Tracy discovered her love for the outdoors and the physical and mental challenges that come with navigating outdoor obstacles. “Most of my childhood recreational activities were climbing cell phone towers, crawling through freeway underpasses, and exploring gaps in rooms around the city,” Tracy said.

Tracy brings higher education experience to WNMU and recently relocated to Silver City from the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he taught Adventure Education at Plymouth State University and served as a member of the Search and Rescue team.

“I began making trips to New Mexico looking for hiking and paddling opportunities to escape New Hampshire’s harsh winters, and finding the Gila was like unveiling a curtain on a landscape of paradise ‘ Tracy said.

Refocusing the program will be Tracy’s primary goal, which will include work to increase awareness of public lands and the Gila region in particular. Additionally, Tracy is committed to providing more consistent and meaningful outdoor experiences and providing students with opportunities to gain confidence and outdoor skills while building a sense of respect for public lands.

For Spring Term 23, the Outdoors program begins with an expansion of the program to include day hikes and a multi-day trip offered once a month that may include hiking, river cruising and canyoning, with the eventual goal of becoming an annual WNMU trip to life call Grand Canyon.

Along with the academic and experimental programming on Tracy’s radar, work is underway to ensure the outpost’s equipment and processes are up to date and accessible. Located on the WNMU campus, the Outpost gear rental has everything a weekend adventurer needs, from boots and backpacks to tents and kayaks, and is accessible to students and community members alike.

“I am an avid explorer of the land, people and culture and I have found that there are endless opportunities to explore the land surrounding Western New Mexico University and the people and communities connected to the land and I am excited looking forward to exploring all of the things that make this area so special,” concluded Tracy.

To learn more about WNMU’s outdoor program and the gear available at the outpost, visit outdoor.wnmu.edu.

Caption: Will Tracy (pictured) will work to expand the range of equipment available for rent at the Outpost while also working to make WNMU the nation’s premier provider of outdoor academic programs.

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