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A Public Health Approach to Avalanche Education

LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University’s second Colloquium of the year will be showcasing the work of Kelly Rice-McNeil as she opens the discussion on a public health-oriented approach to avalanche education and how it could be used to learn from the recent program evaluation of the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), the country’s largest nonprofit provider of avalanche education.

McNeil’s presentation will take place on December 8 from 4-5 p.m. in Ackerman hall, room 210. Kelly Rice-McNeil is the primary advisor and Associate Professor for the Community Health concentration in the Health and Human Performance Department. She is also an avalanche instructor and forecaster as well as a program evaluator, assessing the effectiveness of existing programs.

“With this information, avalanche professionals across the industry can better understand user behavior in the backcountry and, as the body of research continues to grow, make adjustments to their products—ranging from avalanche curricula to public forecasts,” McNeil said. 

This presentation looks to understand what information recreational backcountry travelers use in the field, avalanche practitioners—including forecasters, educators, and guides—can use a public health-oriented framework to extrapolate on reported post-avalanche-course behaviors. In combination with this McNeil will also discuss an impact study for Mount Emily Recreation Area, human factors that affect backcountry users as well as talking about her sabbatical year.  

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