For some, it is one of the toughest aspects of being a Caldwell Fellow. But for many, it also one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Caldwell Fellow.
And that is why the Caldwell Fellows — past and present — will take some time this weekend to honor Jerry Barker, the man who has led annual mountaineering expeditions for the Caldwell Fellows program since 1986. Barker retired from NC State earlier this year, but will continue to lead the annual wilderness expeditions for the Caldwell Fellows.
Barker will be honored Sunday evening when about 100 Caldwell Fellows and friends gather at the Talley Student Center Ballroom for the program’s annual Legacy Dinner.
The wilderness expeditions typically involve a trip to some of the high mountain peaks out in the western United States. Some of the destinations have been Mount Yale in Colorado, Zion National Park in Utah and the Sierra Nevadas in California.
Janice Odom, director of the program, says many of the Caldwell Fellows find themselves pushed beyond what they thought they were capable of doing physically.
In the process, Fellows learn lessons in perseverance, teamwork and leadership that typically stick with them in their pursuits after college. Many Fellows develop a new appreciation for the outdoors and the adventures that can be found there.
Barker talked about the value of the expeditions in an article in the summer issue of NC State magazine.
“I think having fun and seeing beautiful parts of the country is one element,” he said in the magazine. “The more important element is getting pushed out of your comfort zone, confronting a challenge and persevering in the face of hardships.”
The dinner on Sunday will also recognize Mark Wagoner, a Caldwell Fellow who graduated in 1994. Wagoner continued to help lead Caldwell expeditions until he died in 2003 en route to a personal wilderness expedition in Alaska.
Those wishing to honor Barker or Wagoner through a gift may do so by giving to the Mark Wagoner Fund, which supports the Caldwell Wilderness Experience. Checks should be made out to the NC State Alumni Association, with Mark Wagoner Fund in the ‘for’ line. Mail checks to: The Caldwell Fellows · NCSU Box 7121 · Raleigh, NC 27695.
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.