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Outdoor Leadership alum honored at SCC

Dustin Wilson (at right) hikes with his SCC Outdoor Leadership class in 2003. Donated photo Dustin Wilson (at right) hikes with his SCC Outdoor Leadership class in 2003. Donated photo

A graduate of Southwestern Community College’s Outdoor Leadership Program who now holds the title of outdoor recreation planner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C., has received SCC’s second annual Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Just over seventeen years ago, Dustin Wilson found himself trudging through the Western North Carolina wilderness with a group of classmates along the Bartram Trail, a trek designed to bring together all lessons from a land-based class. For Wilson, the experience instilled all the confidence he’d need to chart his own career in the world of Outdoor Leadership.

“Just being able to see the skills I had learned in a classroom and directly translating them into a positive experience of being able to overcome obstacles, have fun and earn a living from this — it proved to me that I could do this,” Wilson said. 

After earning his associate’s degree at SCC in 2003, Wilson progressed on his educational journey, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Carolina University and ultimately earning a doctorate in parks, recreation and tourism management from Clemson University. 

Established in 2019, the award is given annually to an alumnus or alumna who has attained extraordinary distinction and outstanding performance in his or her career field while demonstrating exceptional community leadership.

In his current role, Wilson writes environmental assessments and impact statements for non-federal hydropower licenses. 

“I am extremely proud of the trajectory of Dustin’s career path,” said Paul Wolf, SCC’s founding and current Outdoor Leadership Program Coordinator. “Seeing the impact he is making on the recreational use and protection of our country’s natural resources and being able to mentor him on his journey makes me grateful to have been part of his formative years here at SCC.”

Nominations are accepted annually for SCC’s Distinguished Alumni Award. For more information, visit