Faculty Profile: Terry Dash

[Interviewed by Scott Schneider]

I recently sat down with my good friend and colleague Terry Dash and asked him a few questions about his long career as an outdoor educator.

Schneider: You’ve been teaching for the Outdoor Leadership Minor since 1993. During that time you’ve been on a lot of great adventures. What is your favorite trip you’ve been on with your students?

Dash: I taught whitewater rafting during the first summer session back in 1998 where we spent a week rafting different rivers in the Southeast. Students got to paddle the Ocoee and Pigeon in Tennessee, the Big South Fork of the Cumberland in Kentucky and the Nolichucky and French Broad in North Carolina. It was one sweet week of boating!

Schneider: You are the Coordinator of the Outdoor Leadership Minor. It has had significant growth since your tenure. What is current state of the minor?

Dash: The outdoor education program has shown amazing growth here at State. When I first arrived we were the Physical Education Department. We had six basic instruction courses and had just voted angling out of the curriculum. Students can now participate in thirteen different outdoor activity courses (fly fishing is now a course) and pursue a minor in Outdoor Leadership. Our minor has become popular with students across the entire campus and we’ve seen numerous students graduate with the degree. There should be a record of thirteen minors awarded this May.

Schneider: What do you feel is the greatest contribution you’ve made to the Outdoor Leadership minor?

Dash: Developing activity courses to meet the wants and needs of the students. I started a whitewater rafting course for less than $800 and recently added a course in whitewater kayaking. This course culminates with a three-day raft supported float trip in West Virginia.

Schneider: You’ve been involved in outdoor education for the majority of your personal and professional life. What changes have you seen in outdoor education as a field of study during your career?

Dash: Video and the Internet have really brought outdoor adventure into the mainstream. I consider this a double edged sword. We have seen a rise in popularity in all adventure activities, but we’ve also seen an increase in the stupidity associated with people taking “the next step” in their advemture activities. This is a result of insufficient practice and skill development. An example of this is: “Whipper of the Week” on the Rock and Ice website.

Schneider: What would you like the faculty, staff, and students to know about you that they may not already know?

Dash: I participated in the International Wildwater Championships in 2000 in Trenec, France. This was a great experience. However, this is not as special as the three loves of my life: Laura my wife, Dora my dog and my job here at NCSU which gives me the opportunity to influence young people to seek a life of adventure.

If you’d like to learn more about Terry Dash please check out his faculty webpage.