Ben Mirkin’s students find out quickly that this is one outdoor adventure expert who takes hands-on learning literally. “I firmly believe in the need for extensive time in the field. This means everyone needs to learn to be competent and comfortable in the woods – which is done by spending a lot of time there. If someone wants to be a climbing guide, they must spend lots of time climbing. Experience is key.” The goal is to bring theory to life by having students be a part of it. “This does not necessarily mean playing,” Professor Mirkin says, “although sometimes it does.”
He lives what he teaches at VTSU-Lyndon. In the winter, you will find him scaling the ice cliffs at Lake Willoughby and skiing on nearby Mt. Washington. In the summer, he climbs at a variety of local cliffs and points his mountain bike toward the paths at nearby Kingdom Trails.
Ben has extensive training and certification with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). He also instructs courses for our students through both AIARE and the AMGA.
Professor Mirkin is an avid backcountry skier, mountain biker, and a rock and ice climber. He came to VTSU -Lyndon in 2013 and is a full-time associate professor of the Adventure Education concentration. Prior to the university, Professor Mirkin spent nine years at The White Mountain School working with students with learning difficulties and as director of White Mountain Climbing Camp. He has taught college Adventure Education courses at UNH, Plymouth State University, and the University of Northern Colorado, in addition to leading extended wilderness courses throughout the American northeast, northwest, Canadian Rockies and Alaska. He is excited to share his passion for using the outdoors to help students learn and teach.
When he meets a student for the first time, he will ask, “What’s your dream job?” The answers fascinate him. “I have heard everything from a rock climbing guide to a naturalist, to a game warden or heli ski guide, and many things in between. I have seen our students get every one of these dream jobs! Our students are pretty great.” He is particularly impressed with first-in-family students and veterans. “They tend to be motivated to learn in order to better themselves and their position in life, and if they enter the field I teach in, they are following their passion.”