Jordan Zach '20, Outdoor Education, Leadership, and Tourism

Learning in the Outdoors

Jordan Zach

You won’t find Jordan Zach ’20 on campus as much as the average student at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon.

As an Outdoor Education, Leadership, and Tourism (OELT) major with a concentration in adventure education, Jordan spends much of his time outside, in class backpacking and paddling activities and leading student outing club trips.

NVU’s Program Builds Leaders in the Field

As a professional mountain biker, Jordan enjoys being close to Kingdom Trails, a popular trail system for cyclists and skiers. The location was one reason Jordan chose NVU-Lyndon.

“Why not go to a college where you can study the outdoors and also be immersed in the outdoors so completely?” says Jordan, from Brooklyn, Connecticut.

“Compared to other colleges with a similar degree, I liked the high-end quality of NVU’s program. The things we focus on here let you really dive into being a leader rather than just going into the outdoors and being an educator. They teach you how to be a true leader,” he says.

Hands-On Opportunities

Jordan had options to lead early on in the OELT program.

During the immersion semester, students lead week-long trips with peers and professors, planning meals and logistics, and preparing gear. Jordan’s group hiked sections of Vermont’s Long Trail, canoed in the Adirondacks, and backpacked in the White Mountains.

“The immersion semester was definitely a highlight, having all those days in the backcountry and preparing for trips. It was a challenge, and I learned a ton from it,” says Jordan, who also is pursuing an associate degree in business administration at NVU.

Supportive Faculty Inspire Students to Excel

One benefit of the immersion semester for Jordan was getting to know the OELT faculty. “You become very close to the professors,” he says. 

Faculty support for students and enthusiasm for the field are valuable. “You go to their classes excited rather than dreading class,” Jordan says. “And you can send them text messages or walk into their offices and talk about anything.”

The skills courses and Jordan’s other real-world experiences in the program have motivated him to meet big goals. “They’ve shaped me into someone completely different than who I was before college, someone with stronger leadership skills and higher ambitions,” he says.  

National Certifications Give Students an Advantage after Graduation

Jordan has used his skills and ambition in his work at Kingdom Cycling and Experiences nearby, a job he found through faculty connections. The talents he has developed at NVU got him promoted to manager of the business. He plans a career in marketing and sales in the cycling industry, and in his last semester, he’ll have an internship in the field.    

At NVU, Jordan has pursued other opportunities to build skills to be career-ready — as president of NVU’s outing club, which organizes recreational activities, and as a trail manager maintaining campus mountain bike trails. He recently formed NVU’s student enduro team, which competes in New England mountain bike races.   

OELT students also can get ahead by earning national certifications in their field through NVU classes and programs that focus on preparing for certification exams. Jordan became certified in Leave No Trace and Wilderness First Responder through NVU.   

On a Path to Success

As an NVU student, Jordan has found his path and possible destinations after graduation, and that goes beyond academics. 

“I like the big picture of NVU, where it’s situated and the quality of the education you get. It’s more than just getting a college degree. It’s really building a life for yourself,” he says. “The professors have so many different connections. They’ll help you get where you want to be.”