SUU Outdoors held their first Outdoor Education Series event of the semester on Sept. 14. Jason Tyler Burton, a Southern Utah University professor with a background in songwriting, was invited to perform a night of original songs on the Upper Quad.
This event was one of many activities planned by SUU Outdoors with the goal of getting students to engage with the environment. Burton, who has previous experience as a park ranger, encouraged students to take advantage of the many opportunities to enjoy nature afforded by the university.
“If you didn’t already pick SUU in part because of its access to the outdoors, we’re known as the University of the Parks,” said Burton. “We have SUU Outdoors that does all these trips that are free [and] that are easy to get involved with.”
These events are a great way for students to get involved, largely because of the mental health benefits that being outdoors provides. Burton stressed just how beneficial these opportunities can be academically.
“A big thing for me, and one of the things that I am a big proponent of, is the mental health benefits of spending time outdoors. You’re going to be a more productive student if you find thirty minutes in your day to go sit under a tree in the quad or go on a hike somewhere.”
While Burton likes to write music about a variety of topics, one of his main sources of inspiration is watching the way people interact.
“I am very much paying attention to people, so I just pay attention to the world around me and see people’s interactions,” said Burton. “I’ll see people’s interactions at a bar or here at this concert and kind of imagine in my head what that conversation is going like.”
Baylee Jenkins, who is the event coordinator for SUU Outdoors, highlighted the different types of events hosted by her organization. Local Events, Activities and Programming events are one type of free activity that Jenkins suggested getting involved with.
“Our LEAP activities are more of our weekly events, so we usually do a lot of on-campus stuff or stuff close to campus. Those are all free, so just showing up is a good segue into getting into the outdoors.”
In order to get more information about upcoming outdoor events, students can visit the SUU Outdoors Basecamp, located in the Student Center by Chick-fil-A. Students can also follow the SUU Outdoors Instagram account or visit their website.
Story by: Nick Stein
Photos by: Nick Stein