Dave Heflin Outdoor Lab opens on campus

President LaForge joined a large group of people from campus and the community to officially open the Dave Heflin Outdoor Laboratory at Delta State.

The division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Delta State University held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new lab on Feb. 11.

This space is an exciting new addition to campus that will further expand curriculum available to HPER students and enhance recreational opportunities for the campus as a whole.

The lab is named for Dave Heflin, assistant professor emeritus HPER at Delta State, and the founder of the Outback and Kayak Club. Heflin’s contributions to the field of educational recreation at Delta State are legendary among the generations of students whose lives he influenced.

Dave Heflin and President LaForge

Heflin and his family have provided funding and support to enable the program to continue in that tradition, making it possible for future generations of students to experience a range of outdoor education experiences that lead to lifelong recreational habits.

“The new space will provide this program with an enhanced identity and place of pride for students as they engage in activities and educational experiences in the outdoor recreation program,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The program has a great history and many alumni recall with great fondness the experiences they have had in this program. Dave Heflin was able to build a program with a great reputation, and Todd Davis has grown the program and clearly taken the program to the next level. The future is indeed bright for this program, especially with this newly renovated lab.”

The lab allows for new classroom space, an HD projector and screen for lectures and presentations, a rock climbing wall, maps and guidebooks, equipment storage space, kitchen and laundry facilities, and adequate space to function as an operating training facility for outdoor recreation.

Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Science, is thrilled with the new facility. 

“The Dave Heflin Outdoor Recreation Lab is testimony to the inherent power in shared vision and what it can produce,” said Griffin. “With Todd Davis at the helm, the opening of the lab is our next step along the way to engage students in the program early and in authentic ways.”

In recent years, the Outdoor Recreation Education Program has expanded to include a viable HPER concentration in Recreation Leadership and an array of outdoor recreation courses that expose students to a variety of experiences. The rigor of trip courses has increased through curriculum development, and enrollment trends are positive. A total of 637 students have enrolled in outdoor recreation trip courses during the past 12 years.

Todd Davis, program director for Outdoor Education, is excited to begin programming in the new space.

“I’m excited for our students,” said Davis. “I’m excited that they will have a professional space to learn and develop their skills in a beautiful setting with photos that illustrate the legacy of the program. I’m excited for the possible growth of this program.

“I hope students are able to realize what an enormous benefit this program is to campus life and to the overall education of a student,” added Davis. “It provides opportunities for students to grow, understand and be active in their world. This lab is a magnificent addition to the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Dave Heflin Professorship, and the Division for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. We are very proud of the fact that we re-purposed an unused space and stayed under budget, while exceeding expectations.”

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