The Western New Mexico University Outdoor Program’s new manager is no stranger to seeking adventure in any terrain, and Will Tracy is keen on creating memorable experiences for students while keeping an eye toward expanding the program to include an eventual undergraduate degree in outdoor leadership and adventure education, the first of its kind in New Mexico.
Growing up in urban Pennsylvania, Tracy discovered a love for being outside and the physical and mental challenges that come with navigating outdoor obstacles. “My childhood recreational activities mainly consisted of climbing cell phone towers, crawling through highway underpasses and exploring gaps in spaces throughout the city,” Tracy said.
Bringing experience in higher education to WNMU, most recently Tracy comes to Silver City from the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he taught adventure education at Plymouth State University and acted as a member of the search and rescue team.
“I started making trips to New Mexico looking for hiking and paddling opportunities to escape the brutal winters of New Hampshire, and finding the Gila was like unveiling a curtain to a paradise landscape,” said Tracy.
Refocusing the program will be Tracy’s primary objective that will include working to expand awareness of public lands and the Gila region, specifically. Additionally, Tracy is committed to offering more consistent and meaningful outdoor experiences, providing opportunities for students to gain confidence and outdoor skills while building a sense of respect for public lands.
For the spring ’23 semester, the Outdoor Program will begin an expansion of programming including day hikes and a multi-day trip offered once every month that could include hiking, river trips and canyoneering with the eventual goal of establishing an annual WNMU trip to the Grand Canyon.
Along with the academic and experiential programming on Tracy’s radar will be working to ensure the gear and processes at the Outpost are up-to-date and accessible. Located on the WNMU campus, the Outpost gear rental shop provides everything a weekend adventurer needs from boots and packs to tents and kayaks, accessible to students and community members alike.
“I’m an avid explorer of the land, people and culture and I’ve found there is an endless opportunity to explore the land around Western New Mexico University and the people and community connected to the land, and I look forward to exploring all of the things that make this area special,” closed Tracy.
More about the WNMU Outdoor Program and the range of gear available at the Outpost can be found at outdoor.wnmu.edu.
Photo caption: Will Tracy (pictured), will work to expand the range of gear available for rent at the Outpost while working to make WNMU the state’s leader in outdoor academic programming.