Incoming freshman journalism students at West Virginia University learned the who, what, when, where and how of their chosen majorand a lot about themselvestouring the state through WVU s Adventure WV program.

The budding scribes in the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism recently visited such scenic sites as Blackwater Falls, Seneca Rocks and Spruce Knob, went whitewater rafting and met with media professionals to discuss careers in journalism.

This expansion of the Adventure WV program was a hybrid between what we do well and what the School of Journalism does well,said Greg Corio, who coordinated the trip as director of the Mountaineer Adventure Program.Its been one of our thoughts to keep students connected within a college.

Adventure WV is a unique outdoor orientation for first-year students at WVU . Activities offered include a weeklong expedition across scenic West Virginia, taking part in such vigorous activities as climbing a 50-foot tower and riding a giant swing at WVU s new Challenge Course , backpacking at Dolly Sods, whitewater rafting down the New River and building homes for needy families through Habitat for Humanity.

Participants bond during evening campfire sessions: Students discuss their goals, and student leaders offer advice on achieving those goals, becoming successful students and other topics.

The program involving the School of Journalism students was the first school-specific program, Corio said.

Besides the usual tours and outdoor activities, the journalism students got some career tips from professionals in the field. Among the journalists they talked with were Emily Corio, the Morgantown bureau chief with West Virginia Public Radio; John Bright, former photojournalist and owner of The Purple Fiddle coffee shop and music venue; Chris Stadelman, publisher and editor of The Parsons Advocate; Pam Pritt, editor and part-owner of The Pocahontas Times; Heather Niday, news and public affairs director for Allegheny Mountain Radio; Susan Williams, reporter for The Charleston Gazette; and Cindy Dragan, assistant director of the New River Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Students documented the experience with audio and photography and will use the information to produce multimedia features for a special journalism course in the fall. Jan Boyles, advising and enrollment coordinator, will teach the course.

Those features should be compelling if the studentscomments about their adventures are any indication.

My favorite part was the Challenge Course because it tested your fears,said Melanie Hoffman of McMurray, Pa.Teamwork was key in being successful.

Ive never done whitewater rafting or seen Spruce Knob or Seneca Rocks, even though Ive lived here my whole life,said Anna Jo Morris of Point Pleasant.

Hoffman and Morris found the talks with professional journalists to be inspiring.

I want to talk about something and be that passionate about it,Hoffman said.

Many of the professionals the students spoke with had worked outside West Virginia butfollowed their heartto do what they like in the Mountain State, Morris said.

I think most people who are going into journalism expect, �€~Im going to New York City or Washington, D.C., and be a famous reporter or writer,but you dont need to be famous to be successful,she said.Youve got to find out what you really want in life.

Maryanne Reed , dean of the School of Journalism, said she was glad the schools newest crop of students went on the trip because it will form friendships that last a lifetime.

Anytime you can build a bond among students in the same program, thats a good thing,Reed said.The students on this trip received a crash course in journalism, and they learned a great deal about the state and the people they will be covering. They have a head start on their studies and their profession, and I predict they will be very successful.

Adventure WV, which has 650 freshmen enrolled in its programs this summer, expects to build on the success of its first school-specific program, Corio said.

The College of Business and Economics is interested in doing a similar trip for freshmen next year, he noted.

Morris and her fellow journalists would be willing to share the scoop on their experience.

Its such a great program,Morris said.I think more people should experience it.

More on the Net: