CEDAR CITY — More than 4,500 students, faculty and staff from Southern Utah University celebrated the National Park Service Centennial Aug. 25. Classes were suspended on that day for “SUU Day in the Parks,” which encouraged the university community to actively engage and explore the amazing parks and recreational areas surrounding campus.
One hundred free university-sponsored experiences were offered with 40 buses and vans taking participants to national and state Parks all over Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
Activities included educational research in Bryce Canyon National Park, caving in Great Basin National Park, hiking in Zion National Park, wilderness medicine in Brian Head, poetry writing in Kolob, painting in Cedar Breaks National Monument, mountain biking at Three Peaks Recreational Area and exploring the Grand Canyon.
Additional activities included rock climbing, kayaking, rappelling, service projects, documentary film production and stargazing.
“I’m so thrilled with the participation and support we received for SUU Day in the Parks,” President Scott L Wyatt said. “We made history. As we know, this is the largest university field trip that any institution has ever made.”
SUU Outdoors led several local trips to nearby climbing, rappelling and mountain biking areas. Rob Myers, director of outdoor recreation, said the mission of his department is to inspire meaningful adventures.
“Based on our location and resources,” Myers said, “we really believe that SUU can provide an education for a lifetime of adventure.”
McKena Harvey, a senior majoring in outdoor recreation and a student employee with SUU Outdoors, was excited to participate and even lead a couple groups.
“It was fun to see people try new things,” Harvey said. “They were nervous at first, but when they got the hang of it they had a good time and loved it. We are so fortunate to live in this area, and I really wanted to show people how easy it is to get outside.”
Dr. Kyle Bishop, SUU honors program director, organized a trip to Great Basin National Park to tour the Lehman Caves.
“The students enjoyed an unexpected treat,” Bishop said. “In celebration of the Centennial, all tours were conducted by lantern in an attempt to replicate the conditions of the original tours. We learned a great deal about cave formations and were able to form new bonds and friendships in the dark recesses of the cave.”
The universitywide field trip was possible due to the many partnership SUU has with the local land management agencies including the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management and several Cedar City businesses. The event was also sponsored by Findlay Subaru.
About Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University (1897) evolved from a teacher training institution to Utah’s designated public liberal arts and sciences university, offering over 140 undergraduate programs and ten master’s degrees. With world class project based learning, unique undergraduate research opportunities, and a personalized learning environment (18:1) students lead projects mentored by professors. True to the University’s core vision, SUU faculty, staff and administrators enable students to honor thought in all its finest forms, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change in the world.