Domo arigato, Dr. Wagstaff
Mark Wagstaff has blazed a trail in outdoor leadership education in Japan.
For more than a decade, Wagstaff, a professor in Radford University's Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism has been working to professionalize outdoor leadership in Japan. For his efforts and dedication, Wagstaff will be awarded the Wilderness Education Association of Japan's (WEAJ) Outstanding Wilderness Education award at WEAJ's third annual conference June 19 in Futuoka, Japan.
"It is an incredible honor to be recognized by my Japanese colleagues in this way," Wagstaff said. "While this recognition is their way to thank me, I, too, have benefited greatly. This work has fostered my professional development and a deeper understanding of my discipline on an international scale."
Wagstaff has been conducting Wilderness Education Association (WEA) outdoor leadership courses for college students and professional outdoor educators in the United States since 1986.
He began his work to implement the WEA system in Japan in 2002 with outdoor education workshops at Nara University. Subsequently, the professor has traveled to Japan three additional times to train outdoor recreation leaders there.
In June 2014, Wagstaff traveled to the National Sports University of Taiwan in Taipei to lead a one-day workshop on training and certification models for professional outdoor leaders, the same system he teaches his students at Radford University. Wagstaff then traveled to Osaka, Japan for a week of presentations and conferences.
"It is my honor to play a part in Japan's efforts to professionalize outdoor leadership. No other nation has ever been successful in pulling all outdoor communities together to nationalize the outdoor industry," Wagstaff said. "Adopting aspects of the WEA system and philosophy may serve as the needed structure to make this a reality."
The professor was invited to be the keynote speaker for the inaugural Wilderness Education Association Japan conference. He attended and presented at the annual Japanese Outdoor Education Society Conference. In addition, Wagstaff facilitated workshops for the Osaka Camping Association and The Osaka National Sports University.
Wagstaff "has been instrumental in professionalizing outdoor leadership in Japan," said Taito Okamura, co-chair do the WEAJ. Okamura said Wagstaff's 2012 workshops "influenced the establishment" of the WEAJ.
In addition to traveling to Japan, Wagstaff hosted educators from the country for a 10-day outdoor leadership course, which included Radford Recreation, Parks and Tourism students. The purpose of the course was to prepare Japanese outdoor educators to teach and certify Japanese students through the Wilderness Education Association (WEA).
"This award from the WEAJ is a natural outgrowth of Dr. Wagstaff's long-term dedication to the field and his outstanding quality as an expert of national note – and now international note – in experiential education in outdoor recreation," said Recreation, Parks and Tourism Chair Ed Udd. "Dr. Wagstaff daily serves as an inspiration to our students and us in providing world-class education to our students in Recreation, Parks and Tourism."