Wilderness Pursuits Director to Pass the Torch
Aug. 8, 2009 -- Jake Jones is passing the torch -and the climbing rope- to Janna Hansen. Jones is stepping down as the director of Wilderness Pursuits (WP) at Western State College, and Janna Hansen is being promoted to the position.
Hansen is currently the assistant director of campus life at Western.
WP is a program that offers outdoor expeditions for the students of Western. Trips are guided by qualified student leaders.
Jones has been the director of the program since 2004. "It's an incredible job," he said. "It's very inspirational to work with students. My favorite part of the position has been assisting with students as they become outdoor professionals."
Jones is leaving WP to become the director of parks and recreation in Crested Butte.
The administration at Western credits him with improving a variety of aspects with the program. "Jake Jones provided exemplary leadership and vision for the WP program," Gary Pierson, associate vice president for student affairs, said. "He was also an outstanding ambassador for the college through his service in numerous leadership roles in the local community."
Leadership positions in the community that Jones holds are numerous. Jones has served on several community boards including: the Gunnison County Trails Commission, the Crested Butte Nordic Center, and the Junior Achievement program in Gunnison County. He is also president of the board of directors at the Crested Butte Avalanche Center.
Jones notes that relationships have been built with the Gunnison Valley School, the Gunnison High School, Adaptive Sports in Crested Butte and the Gunnison Parks and Rec. Additionally snow safety programs have been improved under his leadership, via free beacon clinics and avalanche seminars, and partnerships with Crested Butte Mountain Guides.
Jones also formed a new dimension to WP, international travel. This past January WP made a volcano climbing expedition to central Mexico. The trip was extremely successful and the group successfully climbed to the summit of an 18,400 foot volcano.
An existing program, the Peter Terbush Memorial Summit, a training and evaluation course for climbing and mountaineering guides, thrived under Jones. Terbush was a Western student who died in a climbing accident in Yosemite and saved his partner's life in the process. Jones and Jim Terbush (Peter's father), discovered that the program serves its participants best when the program enrolls 15-20 people. The Summit completed its seventh year this summer.
Risk management and safety are two other realms Jones was successful in during his time at WP. Jones credits his years working for Outward Bound and collaborations with other peer institutional organizations such as those at Mesa State College and Fort Lewis College. He also notes the relationship with the Recreation department at Western. "There is no formula to risk management," Jones said. "But my personal philosophy is to be dynamic and to always look at handling risk better."
"Jones really improved everything that happened over at WP," Kevin Nelson, chair of the Recreation department, said. "He helped assist with our risk management plan, and conferred with our department on a variety of different issues."
Jones feels good about his replacement, "Janna knows the students of this campus. Having someone promoted internally will make this transition more seamless."
Gary Pierson agreed. "We are excited about promoting Janna Hansen. She is a proven campus leader with all of the requisite skills and background necessary to provide excellence for WP."
Hansen, who graduated from Western in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and worked for WP as a student is excited about her promotion. "Jake has done such a great job with seeking out qualified leaders at WP. I am glad to be taking leadership from such good hands. WP is a cornerstone of what makes Western a leader in the outdoor recreation field."
Hansen has a master's degree in experiential education from Minnesota State University. She also was the head of operations for the Dunn School Outdoor Education Program in Los Olivos, CA.
"Jake Jones was an excellent mentor for his student leaders and always put student safety at the forefront of WP's mission," Pierson said. "Undoubtedly Janna Hansen will continue the proud tradition of WP and will excel in her new role."
Story by: Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations