SEED Semester

Get outside and off campus for your spring semester! The forests, fields, and creeks of Penn State’s Outdoor Education Field Lab, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center become your classroom for this full-semester experiential journey of outdoor leadership and environmental interpretation courses. The SEED Semester (previously called the Discovery, or “Block” Semester) has been providing transformative engaged scholarship experiences for Penn State students since 1979. Graduates of the program have gone on to work as park naturalists, environmental educators, corporate team building facilitators, high ropes course instructors, classroom teachers, and university faculty. You’ll spend your days with like-minded classmates engaging in real world, hands-on experiences teaching children and families about the natural world. You will work side-by-side with our experienced outdoor educators, team building facilitators, and naturalists to gain a holistic set of outdoor leadership skills.


The SEED Semester is appropriate for Penn State students interested in:

  • environmental and outdoor education
  • the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management (RPTM) major or minor
  • Elementary or Agricultural Education (AgEd)
  • the Environmental Resource Management (ERM) major
  • the Community, Environment, Development (CED) major
  • the Wildlife and Fisheries science (WFS) major
  • the Science Education (SCIED) major
  • outdoor/environmental/adventure careers


Students start the semester with the Discovery Trip to New England — 11 days ranging between the snow-covered Green Mountains and the beaches of Cape Cod — to visit organizations and individuals doing exemplary work in the fields of environmental education, outdoor recreation, and interpretation. The Discovery Trip is just one course (RPTM 497K) in the Shaver’s Creek SEED Semester, which includes the following seven courses, taught as one unit:


Outdoor School Colleen Frogs

RPTM 230 — Team-Building Facilitation

3 credits; this course is also offered in the fall.

Learn leadership and team-building skills to facilitate group dynamics and lead adventure and team activities. This course also counts toward the Intercollege Minor in Sustainability Leadership. (Note: Students may enroll in other sections of this course separately from the Discovery Semester.)


RPTM 326 — Natural History Interpretation

3 credits

Develop methods, techniques, and resources to acquire knowledge of natural history and share it with others. Field identification, projects of an applied nature, and seasonal application.

GNCV Kelly Pond

RPTM 327 — Cultural History Interpretation

3 credits

Identify methods, skills, and techniques for programming at historical sites, and participate in the Maple Harvest Festival.

RPTM 425 — Principles of Interpretive Materials

3 credits

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

Veronica RPTM425

RPTM 430 — Environmental Education Methods and Materials

3 credits

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

Traveling Naturalist - Carli Dinsmore Kestrel

RPTM 470 — Recreation and Park Management

3 credits

Understand management and administration procedures essential to park facilities and recreation programs.

The Discovery Trip

Take a 10-day experiential journey through the Northeast to visit, explore, and critique exemplary outdoor education centers, natural history museums, adventure education centers, and national parks.

Trip - AMC2


Prerequisite: RPTM 325 is the prerequisite for the Discovery Semester because it provides a strong foundation on which the curriculum is built; however, students who are unable to schedule RPTM 325 should contact Doug Wentzel at to discuss possible alternatives to prepare for the Discovery Semester.

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