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Kate Nelson
Age: 23
Hometown: Chicago (South Side!)
Year: Senior
Major/Minor:  Therapeutic Recreation Major with a Minor in Psychology
ECOEE Committee: Publications and Promotions


Growing up in Chicago never really gave me too many chances to experience the wonders of Mother Nature. It was not until my family started going on family camping trips in our pop-up trailer that I was first able to get to know her. I looked forward to those camping trips every year. Even when it rained or a tornado passed over us. When I grew older, I started working at Camp Ondessonk. It was at Ondessonk that I was first able to see the power nature has over people. There you are engulfed in nature. The camp is located in the middle of the Shawnee National Forest. Our cabins there only have three walls, you walk about seven miles a day through the Shawnee, camp out in just your sleeping bag for one night, go on hikes, have bonfires and so much more. Kids come for a week and in that one week you can see a child change and grow immensely!

As a result of Ondessonk I knew when I grew up I wanted to have a job that entailed bringing people out into the heart of nature and letting them experience the beauty and grow as a person. It was not until I change my major three times that I found this was possible. Therapeutic Recreation gives me the chance to take people who might otherwise think they can get out into nature. Such as people with disabilities or someone who has just never been in the woods, I can make it possible for them to go hiking, camping, climbing, canoeing, anything they want to do. Most importantly, I can help them feel comfortable and safe doing something outside of what they ever thought they could do.
ECOEE will give me the opportunities to gain experience and learn techniques that I will later be able to use to help others do the same. Personally, ECOOE is going to, without a doubt, push my buttons in more ways than one. I have been camping, hiking, canoeing, climbing, and kayaking but never in this magnitude. However, I know I can do it. Surrounded by nature and a great group of people this trip will be possible to accomplish. Though both aspects will push me to the edge sometimes, I will not fall!

The Therapeutic Recreation and ECOEE programs are the reason I came to Western Illinois University. At the first university I attended, I changed my major three times in three semesters. After that I transferred to a community college and changed my major again. That is when I fell in love with TR and there I found out about ECOEE. Now I feel right at home at WIU.  Both TR and ECOEE are things that are completely new to me and both hold tremendous possibilities. I cannot wait to combine the many things I learn from each and create countless more possibilities for not just me but othe people that are looking for new possibilities.
 “When we risk going too far, we discover how incredibly far we can go.”
                                    ~Paul Wesselmann,


Phone: 309-298-1967

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