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Parks, recreation and tourism student addresses need for time outside

Fourth-year student Kim Stoddard walks through the Mall on her way to her outdoor leadership class, enjoying her last few months at the University of Maine and reveling in the natural space. 

As a parks, recreation and tourism student, Stoddard is often surrounded by the outdoors and even enjoys studying outside when the weather permits. She also studies outdoor leadership and management.

After graduation in May, Stoddard will be working for the National Parks Service as an Interpretive Park Ranger. She will serve as both a guide and educator who handles educational materials and signage throughout the park. She hopes to move to Oregon and begin her career there. 

“My old high school basketball coach was the one who first got me interested in studying the outdoors in college. I very much enjoy being outside, and decided that I should just go to school for it,” Stoddard said. “I love the wide range of seasons, and with each season comes different opportunities. There is so much to do outdoors, and there are activities for a wide range of people. You can walk, hike, ice climb, mountain bike, swim, kayak and do so many other things during the winter months alone. The possibilities are endless.” 

Stoddard originally chose to attend UMaine as an engineering student and hoped that the opportunities and available connections through the school would benefit her in her career and in her future. 

“I love the community here on campus, and love the people that I have met. Being able to have classes outside and participate in outdoor labs is such a unique experience that not many college students get to be a part of,” Stoddard said. “I have gotten to identify different trees and what kills them, and have gotten other amazing opportunities that exposed me to things I will be working on after I graduate.” 

Stoddard’s favorite courses she has taken at UMaine include a paddling course and a field experience course to fulfill her minor requirements. During her paddling course, she learned basic canoeing paddle strokes and got to practice them out on the water. For Stoddard’s field experience, she spent 10 days at the Bryant Pond 4H Center, where she participated in activities such as mountaineering and ice climbing. During her time at the center, Stoddard also worked with first-year students from the Telstar school, teaching them how to use compasses and maps and how to snowshoe. 

“Being outside is super important for your mental and physical health,” Stoddard said. “Some of the classes I have taken at UMaine have taught me that outdoor education helps student development, and there are actually proven benefits to being outside.” 

Stoddard worked at York Dining Hall for three years on campus, and currently lives off-campus with friends in Old Town. Her favorite activities include walking the Orono trails, hanging out with her sorority sisters, and exploring the Demerit Forest. She also enjoys going to the Maine Bound Adventure Center and using the climbing wall when she gets the chance. 


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