J. Grant White

Associate Professor of Outdoor and Physical Education

A moose trail doubles as a portage path, for Northland College Outdoor Education Professor, Grant White, in the canoe country near Dryden, Ontario

I grew up in northwestern Ohio, on the floor of Lake Erie’s now extinct Great Black Swamp, former stomping grounds of the brilliant Shawnee leader, Tecumseh; frontiersman, Simon Kenton; and general Mad Anthony Wayne. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1974, with K-12 teaching certifications in Physical Education and Health Education, along with four years of intercollegiate gymnastics experience, competing in all six events. In 1976, I earned a Master of Science degree in Experiential Education from Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota. My master’s paper was entitled: “An Orienteering Model for Use in Camps, Schools, and Recreation Programs.”

I began a six year professional association with Mankato State in the summer of 1976, teaching in the Master of Science degree program with the rank of Instructor. While there, I adjusted the program focus from general Outdoor Education to a professional skills training program for outdoor educators. I conceived, developed, directed, and instructed one of the first semester-format Outdoor Education programs in the United States, providing classroom and experientially-based laboratory experiences for up to ten graduate students, for each of the three, ten-week sessions per year. The program was housed at Bemidji State University’s Bald Eagle Outdoor Learning Center, Cass Lake, Minnesota from Fall 1978 until the Center’s closing in Summer 1981. The curriculum included expedition nutrition, wilderness emergency care, CPR, rock climbing, flat water canoeing, canoe tripping, white-water canoeing, orienteering, cross-country skiing (beginner through competitive), winter camping, natural history, traditional woods-craft, applied exercise physiology, and authentic teaching and leadership experiences.

I’ve had the good fortune to work for Northland College from Fall 1982 to the present. Here I’ve had the opportunity to teach all of my favorite classes from my undergraduate and graduate studies and develop others, while exploring areas of personal interest. My teaching responsibilities have included Wilderness Emergency Care, Theory of Teaching Physical Skills (Motor Learning), Sports Medicine (through Winter, 2000), Search and Rescue, Musculoskeletal Anatomy, Analysis of Human Performance (Exercise Physiology and some Biomechanics), Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Advanced Cross Country Skiing, Basic Canoeing, Orienteering, Rock Climbing, Exploring the Human-Animal Connection, and Special Topics in Wilderness Emergency Care.

I have the incredible good luck to live within sight of Lake Superior and surrounded by the Chequamegon (“Soft Beaver Dam”) National Forest, in extreme northwestern Wisconsin. I work for an outstanding small college with an important mission and a commitment to outstanding teaching. I share the Outdoor Education Department with faculty colleagues who are dedicated to excellent, creative, and innovative teaching as well as service to our students and to our profession. I teach students who are talented, unique, interesting, and, in some cases, lifelong friends. This is an environment in which it is easy to do good work.

I have particular interests in search and rescue, open boat canoeing, cross country skiing, traditional woods skills, natural history, musculoskeletal anatomy, and exercise physiology. When away from the office, I can be found (or not found) out exploring the local woods while shooting my longbow, paddling my Bell Wildfire canoe, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing.

Mechanization offers no cultural substitute for the values it destroys.

Aldo Leopold

The canoe is the royalty of watercraft, and even the most fat and fatuous of them is infinitely exalted in my mind above the power pig. A canoe is something from which humanity fairly oozes. It’s a wing  that’s flown on the pleasurable fuels of perspiration, perception and intelligence. To paddle even a poor on is to partake of broadened perceptual universe; to become immersed in paddling a good one is to partake of some kind of godhood.

Harry Roberts
Wilderness Camping, Vol. 6, No. 6, 1977

On recreational use of wilderness by humans:

Either way, we’re just big shrieking hairless monkeys, playing with something we don’t understand.

From a Nike advertisement for outdoor shoes

The Canoeist

If the wind blows when docking, if the lake becomes rough, if the river drops through rapids, the ordinary canoeist grows uneasy, is easily dislodged from his seat, and is often in danger. The skilled canoeist merely becomes more interested, and he can put himself in a position of safety whenever he wishes.

Deforest Eveland
Mankato State University graduate student (and skilled canoeist), 1977

But all conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.

Aldo Leopold
A Sand County Almanac, 1966

The belief that one has all of the answers, is conclusive evidence to the contrary.

Ralphie G. Schwartz, Esq.