Call of the Wild

Building on a tradition of encouraging environmental conservation and education, the Ecology Wildlife Foundation has committed $150,000 to EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte, specifically to support the Venture Outdoor Leadership. Venture is a department within the Office of Student Activities with the aim to enhance the educational mission of UNC Charlotte by providing enriching leadership opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the Charlotte community. 

The generous gift will create and support three endowments: The Ecology Wildlife Foundation Endowed Scholarship, the Ecology Wildlife Foundation Endowed Student Leader Training and Certification Fund, and The Ecology Wildlife Foundation Endowed Equipment Fund.

“All three of these endowments give us freedom to dream bigger,” said David Sperry, director of Venture Program. “We can now plan things we wouldn't have had resources to accomplish without the foundation’s generosity.” The endowed scholarship will provide academic scholarship support to undergraduate students pursuing a minor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. The student leader training and certification fund will support student leaders pursuing advanced training and certification in areas supporting Venture’s mission such as certification with organizations like the American Canoe Association, Wilderness Medical Association and the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. Finally, the equipment fund will support new supplies needed for the program, including its challenge course, while also helping to maintain and repair current equipment.

“The purpose of The Ecology Wildlife Foundation, started by my father, William Reynolds II, is to support organizations that promote humans living in harmony with nature,” said Brook Reynolds, advisor of The Wildlife Ecology Fund. “I believe that to do that, you first have to have a relationship with nature, and that is what Venture does with its trips and programs. Getting people out in nature to have meaningful personal experiences can be a step towards raising their awareness about the need for conservation.” Venture Challenge Course(pictured: UNC Charlotte's Venture Challenge Course)

Reynolds’ own love of nature came from time spent in the woods as a child. While working toward a post-baccalaureate teacher certification in art as a student at UNC Charlotte from 2000 to 2002, she spent a lot of time indoors, in classrooms and studios. However, most of her art was inspired by nature and being part of the Venture Program connected her with others who had similar interests.

“I was part of the Venture Outdoor Leadership program, which not only gave me the opportunity to lead trips and learn new outdoor skills, but also to practice interpersonal skills and leadership styles, which I believed could be translated into a classroom or work environment,” said Reynolds. “Venture was a meaningful part of my educational experience at UNC Charlotte, so it felt good to be able to give back and support a program that had given so much to me.”

Read more stories on the impact EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte is having on our students, faculty and campus.