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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 8:42 pm | Fair 53º


The Working Life: Rod Tucknott

He puts his love for the outdoors to work as UCSB's director of adventure programs

Rod Tucknott came to Santa Barbara as a student at UCSB and is now the recreation center’s director of adventure programs.
Rod Tucknott came to Santa Barbara as a student at UCSB and is now the recreation center’s director of adventure programs.  (Jenn Kennedy photo / www.kennedypix.com)

For someone who loves the outdoors, Rod Tucknott might have one of the best jobs in the world. His official title is director of adventure programs at the UCSB recreation center. Under that umbrella, Tucknott oversees myriad activities, such as hiking, rafting, rock climbing, camping and kayaking.

Raised in the Bay Area, he came to Santa Barbara as a student at UCSB. Initially a pre-med major, Tucknott worked during school as an EMT and taught first aid to students on campus. After graduation, he was a white-water rafting guide in the summer and ski instructor in the winter. He also began leading outdoor adventure trips, and realized his passion could be his profession.

Today, Tucknott says he can’t wait to get to work. His office faces the enormous indoor rock-climbing wall in the Multi Activities Court Center, known as the MAC. He proudly says it’s the largest imprint wall on the West Coast and serves as a training ground for climbers of all levels.

New climbers can rent gear and take clinics to hone their skills, while expert climbers are allowed to scale significantly higher and use the cracks, which are designed as part of the Entre Prises brand wall, to replicate common climbing conditions. The center also offers certifications to those who want to become instructors.

In addition to the climbing center, Tucknott has a full calendar of upcoming trips planned with students, faculty and the public, as part of UCSB Adventure Programs. These include kayaking at Santa Cruz Island, backpacking Yosemite National Park and canoeing the Colorado River.

Funding for such programs comes from a combination of fees students pay with their registration and service fees charged to those who participate. Students receive significant savings over everyone else, but there are multiple cost tiers, for faculty, staff, alumni and the public. The program also receives about 1 percent of its funding from the state.

When asked why the university offers such programming, Tucknott said, “It fits the UCSB mission of cultivating well-rounded students. Much like the Arts & Lectures series and music programming, these physical activities are part of our holistic approach to offering a complete education.”

Tucknott said he would like to see the program grow and diversify with more community participation and student involvement. Currently, it offers a program that combines day hikes, camping, rope climbing and canoeing to incoming freshman. Tucknott said it helps the students get to know one another and make friends early on in their time at the university.

Additionally, the program offers free ropes classes for hundreds of sixth-grade students in the Santa Barbara area. Tucknott said he would like to extend those courses to even younger children to encourage more activity and to help them develop a connection to the outdoors.

In addition to guiding trips, Tucknott teaches a course on leadership and team building for UCSB. A hobbyist photographer, he always takes his camera along on the adventure trips and shoots a mix of landscape and images of the participants.

Click here for more information about the UCSB Adventure Programs.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work.

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