Winona State University continues to strengthen its reputation as a leader in outdoor and adventure education this summer, adding a 45-foot-high by 30-foot-long high ropes course in front of the Education Village campus this summer.

The high ropes course, slated for completion in late June 2024, is intended to serve as both an academic resource for educational learning and a center for physical wellness, promoting personal growth and development.

“Providing meaningful opportunities to engage in an active healthy lifestyle is the OERC mission,” said Mike Henderson, Director of the Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (OERC) at Winona State.

The high ropes course also aligns with the founding goals of Winona State’s Education Village — home of the university’s teacher education programming and the Outdoor Education and Recreation Center — by highlighting the critical role of play in education.

“Higher education is about the growth and development of the human spirit,” Henderson added. “This resource will provide opportunities to grow as a human while feeding the hunger for play of our inner child.”

Within the Physical Education and Sports Science department, the high ropes course will be integrated into academic courses and play a crucial role in the Adventure Education minor and the new Sport Leadership major.

“Winona State is the leader in outdoor/adventure education in the Midwest,” said Eric Barnard, Assistant Professor of Physical Education & Sport Science (PESS) at Winona State. “We offer outdoor/adventure education programs with highly trained professionals, have one of the best university indoor rock climbing walls in the United States, and this new facility will add to our offerings both academically as well as for student recreation and leadership opportunities.”

Partnerships with local K-12 school districts, including Winona Area Public Schools, are part of the vision for the future of the high ropes course. Planned adventure education and resiliency development sessions will feature the high ropes course, team-building activities, and access to the rock-climbing facility on campus.

“Winona Area Public Schools looks forward to yet another opportunity to partner with Winona State University for the benefit of our students,” said Superintendent Brad Berzinski. “The new ropes course will expand education beyond the walls of our schools and provide a space for our students to engage in active learning in an environment that promotes teamwork, resiliency, and physical and mental well-being.”

Beginning in Fall 2024, the OERC will host Outdoor Adventure Open House events that will invite participants to play on the high ropes course, take a mountain bike skills course, and tackle the university’s climbing wall.


About Winona State University

Founded in 1858, Winona State University is a regional public university and the oldest member of the Minnesota State system. With campuses in both Winona and Rochester, Winona State offers more than 200 majors and programs in five colleges: Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing & Health Sciences, and Science & Engineering.

More than half of WSU’s 6,000-plus students are Minnesota residents, and the university also hosts international students from 42 countries. Winona State University’s mission is to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural, and economic vitality of the people and communities we serve: a community of learners improving our world.

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