Building today’s Wilkes Adventure Education with Jill Price

Sean Schmoyer, News Editor

Hiking up the steepest of hills, making your way across a ropes course and traveling to and exploring the Grand Canyon all are possible activities no matter how used to the outdoors someone is.

That is one of the driving ideas behind Wilkes Adventure Education, better known as WAE. Those who work and participate with WAE know that another driving force behind the program is the coordinator Jill Price.

“Jill is sensational,” said Rachelle Papacena, a P2 pharmacy student and WAE facilitator. “She makes you feel like you are part of something really awesome and is great at creating a team that feels like a family. She has enhanced my college experience inside and outside of WAE, and I can’t imagine Wilkes without her. I’ve learned so many great lessons from Mama Bear.”

Price graduated with a degree in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania but had no idea what she was going to do.

“When I graduated, I got an offer to go work at a Boy Scout camp, and I blew them off once before. I was supposed to go visit them and interview for the job, and I got scared because what most people don’t know about me is I’m a really big chicken at heart,” Price explained.

Afterward, Price sent an email to the person in charge and faced the truth that she had let them down, a moment that has stuck with her, and by luck, the position was still open when she graduated, and she got the job.

“I learned on some level of humility to take responsibility, and I got to understand how my actions affect others. Then, from a team-building component, I got to play tag. As a kid, I loved recess, and even as a young adult, I loved playing. So, through play, I got to learn a ton about myself and a ton about leadership and action.”

From there, Price’s career path and lifestyle changed. She found herself working at a different campus and going down a career path that focused on outdoor education. Then, eight years ago, the position of coordinator of Wilkes Adventure Education had opened up, and she got the job.

In time, Price started to plant the seeds of other ideas like glamping, biking and eventually activities and programs like WAE Day.

Alongside Anthony Fanucci ‘18, who was then a first-year student at Wilkes, Price brainstormed ideas, and the acronym of WAE was born. Price identified that it was the students who worked with her that helped to make WAE what it is today.

Price had to rely on student facilitators to help teach other students how to go outside and be responsible adventurers while preserving that close and tight-knit bond that has always been essential to WAE.

Edison Fowler, senior mechanical engineer and WAE facilitator, explained how WAE has helped him grow over the years.

“WAE has given me opportunities that I would have never had access to, like going on a week-long trip to Ireland for spring break,” said Fowler. “Working through WAE, and with Jill, has also given me the chance to continue to push my comfort zone and try new things. I’ve always been really introverted, but taking leadership roles like facilitating has caused me to gain a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities as a leader.”

Those who have met Price would know that she is often a force of positive energy who helps teach the students of WAE the ways of the outdoors so that they can do the same. That cooperation between students and Price became a core part of WAE, as the program grew in size and became the organization students know today.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, those who are interested in joining WAE should reach out to Price (Jill. [email protected]) or any student facilitator for WAE, as they are continuing to host events like yoga and plan other activities.

Kirsten Peters