ORL graduate Chelsilyn Ball shares her knowledge and experience in Nepal.

Graduates of the Outdoor Recreation Leadership Program at CMC

Graduates have the hands-on wilderness knowledge and experience to succeed in an outdoor career

Chandra Swanson
Photo of Chandra Swanson.

Pushed in the Best Way Possible

“I found Colorado Mountain College’s programs to be the best blend of academia and technical skills I needed for transferability to a four-year university and the opportunity to work immediately in the field. To any student considering the Outdoor Recreation Leadership Program I would say: don’t hesitate. Your instructors will be excellent and passionate about what they do, and you’ll be pushed to the extreme in the best way possible. I genuinely feel the experiences and instruction I received at CMC prepared me for a future in any outdoor profession of my choosing.”

After graduating from CMC with degrees in both Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Outdoor Education, Chandra Swanson transferred to Oregon State University, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology. Chandra works for the Pike & San Isabel National Forest Office in Leadville, Colorado, just down the road from Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus.

Ben Rhinesmith
Photo of Ben Rhinesmith.

Talented and Motivated Instructors

“The ORL program surrounded me with talented and motivated instructors and role models. Their constant support, encouragement, and advice motivated me to improve myself. They helped shape my view of the outdoor industry while teaching me the tangible skills such as climbing, hiking, and orienteering, and while teaching the intangible skills such as expedition behavior, group dynamics, programming, and professionalism.”

Ben Rhinesmith works as a kayak, hiking, and naturalist guide for InnerSea Discoveries, a small cruise ship company in southeastern Alaska. In the past, he has also worked with high-functioning inner-city youth in Wyoming as a backcountry instructor and has co-taught High Angle rescue at Colorado Mountain College. He plans to instruct rock climbing as a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) instructor and possibly start his own guiding company, and hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree after spending more time traveling and experiencing the world through guiding.

Steven Rizzo

Flexible Program

“The ORL program prepared me for what I’m doing now by giving me the skills and knowledge to competently run my own outfitter. The most valuable part of the program was its flexibility, which allows students to choose their own areas of expertise and not just one set program path. If you love the outdoors in all four seasons, then ORL is the place for you.”

Steven Rizzo is co-owner of a whitewater outfitter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on the Menominee River. He lives in Vulcan, Michigan. He will spend two months at the end of 2011 in Japan for a 650 mile hike around Shikoku, its fourth largest Island. He plans to continue with his self-employment and hopes to continue his education so he can instruct Swift Water Rescue courses.

Ryan McCulley
grad Ryan McCulley

Employer Recommendation

“Ryan McCulley was great to work with and provided expertise that was imperative for the implementation of our guide and outfitter process. I will highly recommend this program to other Forest Service administrators…throughout the state. We were able to hire Ryan as a seasonal employee… I feel comfortable giving him any project and know he will do just fine.”   -Kathryn D. Hardy, District Ranger, Pike/San Isabel National Forest

Ryan McCulley works with the Pike San Isabel National Forest Service

#Graduate / Brett Menter

Alaska Guiding Internship


Watch Brett’s round-up of the 2014 season in the Chugach Mountain Range.

Brett Menter heli boarding in Alaska.Brett Menter, a CMC Outdoor Recreation Leadership grad, is in Alaska learning hands-on from Majestic Heli Ski.  Read More