Vermont State’s Outdoor Education, Leadership, & Tourism Program Achieves Accreditation From American Mountain Guides Association

Vermont State becomes the only university in the nation with AMGA status

Vermont State University announces that the Outdoor Education, Leadership & Tourism (OELT) program based at its Lyndon campus has received accreditation from the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) for a four-year term that started on May 16, 2023, making it the only university program in the country to currently be accredited by the AMGA. The accreditation applies to the OELT program’s training in alpine, ice, and rock climbing ,as well as backcountry skiing. 

“Now students who come to Vermont State University’s Lyndon campus can know that, in addition to being taught by academics who are versed in the theory behind adventure education, leadership, and tourism, they will be taught by individuals trained and certified by the American Mountain Guides Association,” said Ben Mirkin, associate professor at Vermont State University’s  Lyndon campus. “They can know that we are doing everything we can to manage risk well – and teach them how to do the same.”

All faculty members and adjunct instructors working in these skill areas  will be required to be trained within the AMGA scope of practice, and in most cases will also be certified in the discipline they teach. 

AMGA accreditation results in new risk management protocols for the OELT program, specifically in the case of emergencies encountered in the field. Accreditation also means the addition of a medical advisor to the program – Dr. Brian Irwin, a family medicine physician with a speciality in wilderness medicine will serve in that role. Irwin is currently an adjunct faculty member at Dartmouth. 

Graduates of Vermont State’s OELT program who go on to work in the mountain guide industry will be trained at the AMGA standard, positioning them to be workforce-ready. OELT students already graduate with several instructor certifications. Currently, the OELT program has a 100% job placement rate with alumni serving in roles globally and in Vermont. 

There has been incredible growth in adventure and experiential tourism within the past few years. The global adventure tourism market size is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.2% from 2022 to 2030 (Source: Grand View Research). Programs such as Vermont State’s OELT course of study equip students for an array of roles within the tourism industry. 

Learn more about the Outdoor Education, Leadership & Tourism Program at Vermont State University.