CJ Gaunce

Our Outdoor Education, Leadership, and Tourism Program Is Well-Known, and for Good Reasons  

For outdoor education, leadership, and tourism (OELT) major CJ Gaunce, there isn’t a better place to prepare for his career than Vermont State University’s Lyndon campus. 

The mountain recreation management concentration has provided CJ the opportunity to work at Stowe Resort, where he has gained the skills he needs by operating and maintaining ski lifts and assisting guests in fall, winter, and summer. His professors’ connections have helped him get jobs there to build his real-world experience. 

“If I wasn’t here at Lyndon then I wouldn’t be over at Stowe on the mountain,” CJ said. “When I tell people I’m from Lyndon, everyone there gets it.” He plans to do an internship with Vail Resorts, which owns Stowe and other ski areas around the country. 

A Well-Known, Respected Program 

CJ chose NVU-Lyndon because of the high quality of the OELT program — and how close the campus is to many ski areas. 

“The program is well-known in the industry. A lot of people have come from NVU-Lyndon who are very respected in the industry around the country. The school’s got a really good reputation,” said CJ, of Waterville, Maine. “The professors have given me the opportunity to meet people in the industry and start to network.” 

One way students meet industry experts is through classes taught by professionals in the field. A Stowe general manager taught an introductory course CJ took. “Stowe has been a very good learning place for me. I take what I learn in the classroom and see it in action at Stowe,” said CJ, who’s pursuing a concentration in ski area management. 

A Deep Dive into the Industry 

Because of our location in northern Vermont, CJ’s immersion in mountain recreation has gone beyond Stowe. 

“For some of our classes, we tour mountain resorts and see new infrastructure,” he said. His classes have visited Burke Mountain and Jay Peak in Vermont, Bretton Woods and Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire, and other ski areas. 

In meeting professionals at resorts, “You learn about where people have come from and how they got there. You also get to see how different mountains have different operating styles,” CJ said. Students are exposed to varied parts of the industry, including administration, the business side, and event and program planning. 

Recreational Opportunities On and Off Campus 

At NVU, CJ is involved with the Ski and Ride Club, which maintains the campus terrain park. He’s also in the Outing Club, which organizes a range of activities on and off campus. 

“There are lots of recreational opportunities here. That’s what stands out to me the most about NVU,” CJ said. “We’re up on top of a mountain…When Burke turns their lights on at night, we see them directly across the valley.” 

His class time stands out to him, too. CJ and other NVU students learn from faculty with in-depth experience in the field. 

“One thing I really enjoy is that in the classroom, our professors talk about the experiences they’ve had and tell stories about what they’ve gone through. That’s very informative,” said CJ, whose career goal is to be the general manager of a ski resort. 

“NVU-Lyndon gives me the opportunity to reach my goals in the classroom and outside the classroom. There’s a large group of people who come from Lyndon who are in the position I strive to be in, and I’ve made a lot of connections,” he said. “If you’re looking to ski and do what you love, Lyndon is the place to be.”