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How Carolina Junior, Cate Schultz, has Utilized CCPS Resources to Develop a Local Outdoor Education Program

By Michelle Seucan
Edits by Ryan Nilsen and Alexander Saunders

“I just want to provide an outlet for youth to connect with nature and one another, hopefully learning some lessons about the environment, and how they can help with sustainability along the way.”

–Cate Schultz ‘24

A woman with medium to light wavy brown hair over her shoulders and bluish eyes. She looks directly at the camera. The background is a neutral gray. Her dress is aqua green with a tight pattern of small white dots around it.Over the past year, Carolina junior, Cate Schultz, has creatively integrated her academic studies and service involvement with several Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS) programs into the design and implementation of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties (BGCDOC) Outdoor Education and Recreation Program.

A double-major in Human Development and Family Science and Psychology with a minor in Conflict Management, Schultz researches models for educational and psychological growth for children. Through this, she has become a passionate advocate for alleviating the deep inequities preventing access to innovative educational opportunities in the local area. Her work at the BGCDOC gave her weekly hands-on connections with students, where she built relationships with them and offered a space for individual creation and development. In April 2022, Schultz was awarded the MacDonald Community Fellowship, where she received guidance, funding and other resources to develop a signature project with the Boys and Girls Club and Marian Cheek Jackson Center. The program focused specifically on fostering an intellectually stimulating environment for young children through interactions with nature, socialization and therapeutic play.

Reflecting on her experience, Schultz says that it is important to meet regularly with partner organizations to ensure that all parties are providing beneficial services and maximizing resources. She says that, through regular collaboration, the community’s bests interests will be served and their goals will be met most effectively and sustainably.

“Rather than imposing what I think would be engaging or beneficial to the group, I actually ask the kids what they want and value their responses,” says Schultz. “They want to share about their lives and perspectives, so it is imperative to give them that space to be open and learn from them.”

Four students squat on the ground in front of a statue of six rocks stacked on each other. Each of the students wear jackets, beanies and head lamps. The photo was taken past sun set and uses artificial light from the camera or other source.Through her connection to CCPS, Schultz participated in a four-day Outward Bound course for student leaders of service-oriented organizations, which deepened her own experience in outdoor education. Schultz joined a crew of 10 other student leaders in October 2022 for a fall break full of backpacking, rock climbing and even a (chilly!) river crossing! Outward Bound fosters the discovery of new potentials for learning about oneself and how to collaborate with a team effectively through outdoor educational experiences. Schultz made great friends during the trip and gleaned valuable insights she later brought back to the Boys and Girls Club.

“I was able to connect with other UNC student leaders with a communal passion for service, and we were able to create true bonds and lasting friendships, even in such a short time period,” says Schultz.

In March of 2023, Schultz leveraged what she learned from these opportunities and offered a collaborative workshop with Avi Santo, full professor and chair of the Department of Communication at UNC, titled “STEAM Play: The importance of informal learning settings and using play-based science practices in working with children from vulnerable and underrepresented communities.” In the future, Schultz hopes to continue to research, learn and serve to promote better access to high quality educational opportunities for all children.


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