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Credit Courses

Shaver’s Creek partners with many academic colleges across Penn State to offer courses in environmental interpretation, outdoor/adventure education, and leadership. Every spring, students interested in these subjects can also take the Shaver’s Creek SEED Semester, an experiential journey for students.

Learn about the SEED semester

Shaver’s Creek’s undergraduate programs are listed with many departments around the University, including Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM), Ecosystem Science and Management (ESM), Science Education (SciEd), Engineering (ENGR), Leisure Studies (LE ST), and more! Some of our courses also count toward the Intercollege Minor in Sustainability Leadership. While some of our classes meet on campus, many are held at the center.

To see a list of all Shaver’s Creek classes, visit LionPath’s Search for Classes menu. Select “University Park” as the campus and “SHAVERS” as the Location. Shaver’s Creek classes will also show up if the Location field is blank (but they will NOT appear if the Location field is also set to “UNIVPARK”).

Screen shot of the LionPath Search for Classes screen

Please note: Some courses have registration controls and may require acceptance by the instructor. If you do not find a course listed in the schedule of courses, please contact us at 814-863-2000.

Festival Courses

Many of Shaver’s Creek’s public programs and festivals are designed to offer Penn State students a hands-on, for-credit experience interpreting natural and/or cultural history topics to families. Our two festival courses dovetail with the two major festivals that Shaver’s Creek hosts every year — the Maple Harvest Festival and the Fall Harvest Festival featuring the Children’s Halloween trail — and allow students to apply their course learning directly to a real-world event that reaches thousands of adults and children.

AEE 297 — Interpreting Halloween to Children

1.5 credits; offered fall semester

Learn to interpret the natural origins of Halloween to visitors attending the annual Shaver’s Creek Fall Harvest Festival featuring the Children’s Halloween Trail — an interactive family event (in late October).

AEE 297 — Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families

2 credits; offered spring semester

Learn the process of maple sugaring and how to interpret this natural history process to the general public through an interactive, community-based festival — the Maple Harvest Festival (in late March).

This experiential course will explore how to identify and tap sugar maple trees, historical and modern methods of boiling sap into maple syrup, and interpretive methods for teaching the general public the art of maple sugaring at the Maple Harvest Festival in late March.

For more information, please see the flyer for 2019 or view information about our Credit Courses.

Park Management & Environmental Interpretation Courses

RPTM 140/SCIED 140 — Outdoor School Counselor

2 credits; offered spring and fall semester

This course will give you leadership experience with grade school–aged children in a residential outdoor education program. You will attend one full-day and two evening training sessions to prepare for Outdoor School. You will serve as a cabin counselor; manage participants at meals, during cabin time, and in lessons; assist instructors in learning groups by leading activities and portions of lessons; and teach a cultural history lesson. This course sometimes counts toward the Intercollege Minor in Sustainability Leadership.

FOR 203 — Field Dendrology

3 credits; offered fall semester

Field identification of native and introduced trees and shrubs by leaf, fruit, twig, and bark.

RPTM 240 — Instruction and Leadership in Environmental Education

2 credits; offered spring and fall semester

Outdoor School is an environmental education experience for teachers, counselors, and fifth-grade children. This class is for students who will lead the counselors and learning groups.

FOR 303 — Herbaceous Forest Plants Identification and Ecology

3 credits; offered spring semester

This course surveys common herbaceous plant taxa occurring within forested habitats in Pennsylvania and the region. Botanical characteristics, ecological interrelations, commercial importance, and field specimen collection methods are covered.  Prerequisite: 3 credits in plant or biological sciences.

RPTM 325 — Principles of Environmental Interpretation

3 credits; offered fall semester. This is a prerequisite for the SEED Semester.

Forge a connection between the interests of an audience and the meaning inherent in our natural resources. Use interpretive techniques and short presentations in such programs as the Children’s Halloween Trail in October. This course counts toward the Intercollege Minor in Sustainability Leadership.

RPTM 326 — Natural History Interpretation

3 credits; offered spring semester. Limited to SEED Semester students only.

Learn the basics of identifying birds, trees, wildflowers, and more. Learn to read the natural landscape and tell the story of the ecology of the Eastern Forest.

RPTM 327 — Cultural History Interpretation

3 credits; email Shaver’s Creek for details.

Students experience an active semester of learning content and skills, experimenting with methods and materials, exploring the relationships between natural history and cultural history (a holistic base), and developing and delivering quality interpretive experiences in a variety of settings.

FOR 403 — Invasive Forest Plants: Identification, Ecology, and Management

3 credits; offered fall semester

Survey of common nonnative (“exotic”) herbs, forbs, shrubs, trees, and vines that invade forested habitats in Pennsylvania and the region. Field identification, life history traits, ecosystem-related challenges and problems, and management options and considerations are reviewed. Prerequisite: six credits in plant or biological sciences.

RPTM 425 — Creating an Interpretive Exhibit

3 credits; offered spring semester. Limited to SEED Semester students only.

Learn principles, practices, and application of nonpersonal interpretive activities common to natural/cultural history, including exhibits, audiovisual, and illustrative materials. Prerequisite: RPTM 325

RPTM 430 — Environmental Education Method and Materials

3 credits; offered spring semester. Limited to SEED Semester students only.

Discover methods and materials for developing, implementing, and evaluating environmental education programs in formal and nonformal educational settings. This course counts toward the Intercollege Minor in Sustainability Leadership.

SCIED 455 — Field Natural History for Teachers

3 credits; offered fall semester

Ecologically oriented field study course to provide teachers with basic knowledge of natural science resources in school environments.

Outdoor & Experiential Leadership Courses

A group of Penn State students stand around a bike

The Shaver’s Creek Field Laboratory is Penn State’s home for courses in outdoor group management techniques, adventure leadership, and team-building skills. Shaver’s Creek faculty bring to these exciting and challenging classes their extensive experience in the fields of outdoor education and adventure recreation.

Shaver’s Creek is also home to AURORA, Penn State’s Outdoor Orientation Programs, which runs 5 of the nation’s premier first-year student orientation programs.

KINES 089 — Student Wilderness Experience (ORION, POLARIS, URSA, VEGA, RIGEL)

3 credits

KINES 089 provides incoming first-year Penn State (UP) students with the opportunity to engage in a fun, challenging, outdoor experience prior to their first fall at college. Incoming students meet and make new friends, learn outdoor skills that focus on the “Leave No Trace” philosophy, and set goals for their first year at Penn State while enjoying five days of backpacking adventure in one of our scenic locations nationwide. (Visit the AURORA program page for more information.)

PSU 14 — First Year Seminar (for AURORA participants)

1 credit; offered fall semester

This First Year Seminar is designed to introduce first year students who have participated in AURORA (ORION, URSA, VEGA, or POLARIS) to the academic and social culture of Penn State University. The objective of the class is to help you engage with academic, social, and personal resources available at Penn State and in the community and to facilitate your transition to college life. (limited to AURORA participants)

RPTM 230 — Team-Building Facilitation

3 credits; offered spring and fall semester

Learn to lead and facilitate group team-building activities. Other topics include leadership, group process, and group dynamics. This course counts toward the Intercollege Minor in Sustainability Leadership. (One of two spring sections is limited to SEED Semester students only.)

RPTM 236 — Leadership and Group Dynamics in Recreation Settings

3 credits; offered spring and fall semester

Supervision in recreation services, including theories, strategies, group dynamics, applied leadership and decision-making skills. RPTM 236 Leadership and Group Dynamics in Recreation Services (3)The primary objectives of RPTM 236 are for students to examine both leadership and group dynamics as a function of leisure and recreation services. Students in RPTM 236 will be given a variety of leadership opportunities, both in and out of class, to begin to develop leadership skills as well as observe others in recreation leadership positions. Information on leadership theory and group dynamics (group development, roles in groups, group decision making) will be provided through group exercises and hands on experiences. Main topics include: Leadership theory; Approaches to leadership; leadership styles; Definition of group including characteristics and effective group management; Group decision making and problem solving; Recreation leadership skills including behavior management, interpersonal skills and motivation; Teaching as a leadership skill; learning theory; Communication as a leadership skill; Teambuilding RPTM 236 is a required course for RPTM majors. Students in other majors are welcome. It is strongly suggested that RPTM 236 be taken prior to, not concurrent with RPTM 356.

RPTM 330 — Adventure-Based Program Leadership

3 credits; offered spring semester

Both theoretical and experiential components are included as the role of the leader in adventure programs is examined. This course will focus on the philosophy, leadership techniques, ethics, and current practices in the area of adventure programming. Focus of instruction will be upon program design, developing skills for facilitating personal growth and providing leadership for outdoor pursuits.

RPTM 440 — Adventure-Based Programming and Administration

3 credits; offered fall semester

This course is designed to equip students with a variety of outdoor program-planning methodologies and skills. Emphasis is on planning, organization, implementation, and evaluation of outdoor experiential education programs. Outdoor topics, theories, and systems will be explored to facilitate the administration of quality adventure-based programs.

RPTM 297 — Wilderness First Aid (“Woofa”) Certification

1 credit

The Wilderness First Aid (WFA) curriculum uses the principles of long-term care, improvised resources, and varying environmental conditions as the framework for learning. (Call 814-863-2000 for dates.)

RPTM 497 — Wilderness First Responder (“Woofer”) Certification

3 credits

The Wilderness First Responder (WFR) curriculum uses the principles of long-term care, improvised resources, and varying environmental conditions as the framework for learning. This certification course meets DOT National Standards for First Responder with additional protocols for extended-care situations. Upon successful completion, students receive a SOLO Wilderness First Responder card and an American Heart Association Adult Heartsaver CPR card, or equivalent. (Call 814-863-2000 for dates.)

More Shaver’s Creek in the Classroom

BiSc 3 — Environmental Science

3 credits; offered spring and fall semester

Kinds of environments; past and present uses and abuses of natural resources; disposal of human wastes; prospects for the future. Students who have passed BIOL 220 or any other upper-level ecology course in biology may not schedule this course. BISC 3 Environmental Science (3) (GN)(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. BISC 3 will help the student to prepare for living in current and future society’s mixture of technology and mythology by presenting ideas and concepts about living systems and their environments. Policy makers and citizens are urgently needed who can act with an understanding of ecological principles when exercising community responsibilities to handle the environmental problems of our times, such as water use, solid waste management, global warming, energy use, conservation of irreplaceable natural resources, overpopulation, and the preservation of biodiversity. An understanding of biological and ecological principles and their application towards environmental challenges should give the student the confidence to be a trustworthy and active citizen, a conscientious steward of nature, and an agent of change for making a healthy, sustainable community and society. Regardless of the students’ field of study, as a citizen of both local and global communities some environmental issues will impact their lives. The course objectives are to enable students to: * Develop a basic understanding of how ecosystems and biological systems work, learn how economic systems depend on natural capital, biological/chemical processes, and the function of ecosystems * Develop a fundamental understanding of sustainability * Understand the scientific basis of specific environmental problems * Understand the significance of environmental legislation and the impact of increased citizen awareness on improving the quality of life we enjoy today * Further develop the ability to evaluate their contributions to shared environmental problems, identify ways to minimize their impact on the environment, and contribute to the development and maintenance of a sustainable future.

Biol 400 — A Journey to Awareness

3 credits; offered spring and fall semester

Teaching Assistant course for BiSc 3.

SOC 119 — Race and Ethnic Relations

3 credits; offered spring and fall semester

A course on thinking critically about issues related to race and ethnicity in American society.

SOC 300 — Preceptorship in Sociology

1–8 credits, maximum of 4 per semester; offered spring and fall semester

Supervised experience as a teaching assistant for SOC 119 under the supervision of an approved faculty member. Prerequisite: SOC 119 and by application.