Oct 072010
Authors: Allison Sylte

Cara DiEnno and Ray Aberle are both passionate about the outdoors. And both, as faculty mentors for the First Year Mentoring Program, love to share this passion with CSU students.

“A lot of people come to CSU because of the amazing physical location,” said Aberle, the coordinator of the CSU challenge course and faculty mentor for the Outdoor Skills and Adventure peer-mentoring group. “This is a great chance for new students to get involved, meet new people, and gain the experiences needed to really enjoy the outdoors during their time at CSU.”

The First Year Mentoring Program is coordinated by the Orientation and Transition Programs and serves to make connections between first-year students with similar interests and peer and faculty mentors.

The Outdoor Skills and Adventure group meets weekly to explore local trailheads, visit Horsetooth Reservoir and Lory State Park and to hone their skills on the challenge course.

“It’s awesome to have the chance to connect with students over a long period of time and to really be someone who they can confide in,” Aberle said.

Aberle started the group five years ago after deciding he wanted an opportunity to connect with students over a long-term period of time, versus the short periods of time that he spent with students at the challenge course.

“I love the chance to connect with new students and show them what the outdoors are really about,” Aberle said.

Jocelyn Bryant, a freshman political science major, said she is loving the outdoor activities and being a part of a mentoring group.

“I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people, and do some truly amazing things. It’s great,” Bryant said.

For freshmen women looking to get involved in the outdoors, faculty mentor Cara DiEnno and CSU junior Jane Karpowicz created a special mentoring group called Divas of the Dirt. The ladies aimed to create an atmosphere that gave first-year females the opportunity to participate in the outdoors with a group solely comprised of other women.

“I know from experience that sometimes women tend to be an anomaly in outdoor activities and find themselves constantly surrounded with men, which can be very intimidating,” said DiEnno, who is the coordinator for the Forest Rangeland Watershed Stewardship. “We created this group so that women can do outdoor activities surrounded by other likeminded women.”

Divas of the Dirt engages in a wide range of activities from car camping to outdoor cooking classes. This weekend, 10 members even summated Mt. Bierstadt, one of Colorado’s 14ers.

“It was such a cool opportunity because six out of the 10 girls hadn’t done a 14er before,” DiEnno said. “What’s awesome about the group is that, even though I’m technically the ‘mentor’, we’re all teaching and learning from each other. We’re all leaders. It’s such an amazing opportunity to be involved.”

Staff writer Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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