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The Center for Outdoor Education and Research

The Center for Outdoor Education and Research was established in 2022 by Eastern Kentucky University as an innovation to allow collaboration across multiple colleges and units. The Center leverages the natural and cultural capital of EKU's Natural Areas, agricultural lands, and other outdoor venues with the goal of increasing opportunities for students, faculty, the Richmond community and beyond. 

Dr. Stephen Richter, executive director of the Center and director of EKU's Division of Natural Areas, says, "Our center provides an administrative support structure for faculty across campus to strengthen and grow programs, develop funding proposals, and otherwise enhance multidisciplinary efforts that are difficult under traditional college boundaries. We want faculty to excel at what they do best, providing our students exceptional learning experiences, while center administrators navigate funding and other logistical constraints." 

The Center uniquely positions EKU as a leader of academic pursuits in outdoor education and strongly contributes to transforming higher education in the state and to boosting the economic growth of eastern Kentucky by: 

  • Fostering cross-college, interdisciplinary collaboration for outdoor education, recreation, and research with emphasis on natural, cultural, agricultural, and recreational resources, the environment, public safety, and outdoor recreation;
  • Developing partnerships with state, federal, and non-governmental organizations and other external agencies; 
  • Securing external funds to support education, research, internships, and infrastructure;
  • Recruiting current EKU students through new interdisciplinary certificate programs and internship opportunities; and
  • Offering high-demand fields of training such as wilderness first aid, GIS, environmental education, environmental science, and natural resource management. 


For more information, contact:

Dr. Stephen Richter, Executive Director
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