Outside T-Birds: Riley Carter

Many SUU students first get exposed to outdoor recreation through the SUU Outdoor adventures planned by staff members. Although these trip leaders are highly skilled, several were also beginners when they came to college. SUU Outdoors’ Shop Manager Riley Carter, is one of these.

Carter grew up in Payson surrounded by horses and chickens and spent his weekends camping or hunting. Though his family loved spending time outside, Carter didn’t feel experienced with many outdoor sports when coming to SUU.

“I grew up in the outdoors but not in outdoor recreation,” Carter said.

Right before moving to Cedar City, one of Carter’s closest friends helped him overcome his fear of heights by taking him rock climbing. Once he arrived at college he wanted to learn more.

“I was feeling those pains of not having [my] best friend anymore,” He explained. “I wanted to get back into it all.”


Upon arriving at school, Carter quickly became a part of the outdoor community by joining “Pacesetters”, which has now been absorbed into SUU Outdoor Adventures. The club would meet to teach a principle of outdoor recreation and then take trips together.

“I just pestered [SUU Outdoors] and made me a part of their life,” Carter said. “I got to know a lot of the staff, and I wanted to spend more time with them.”

After months of attending adventures and spending time at the rock wall, Carter was offered a job as a trip leader.

“I wasn’t intending to work here or get this involved,” Carter exclaimed. “It just kind of happened. It just sucks you in and the people are very welcoming.”

As a current employee, Carter leads various adventures around southern Utah. Though it might not be the same adrenaline as adventuring alone, hosting trips provides a different enjoyment entirely.  

“It’s a blast, it really is,” Carter said. “When you lead a trip, you are trying to inspire meaningful adventure… We usually lead trips with [students] for their first year or year and a half and help them experience new things until they begin to feel more confident and start doing it themselves.”

As a junior studying biology and botany, Carter hopes to get a career in molecular plant biology. This passion often appears when he leads adventures. Carter’s participants know he will stop to talk about the surrounding foliage. He said he sometimes can’t help himself while out on a trail.

As he gets deeper into his major, Carter finds he has less and less time to get outside. However, his passion for the outdoors remains strong and he still makes time to do what he loves.

“Just about anything outdoor related I’ve done or am down to give it a shot,” He said.

Students wanting to get more involved with SUU Outdoors, like Carter, can visit Basecamp, located in the student center. For all of those who want to explore more outside, Carter gives his iconic advice, “Look out for Bears.”

Story By: Ansleigh Mikesell
Photos Provided By: Riley Carter