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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Faculty and Staff Profile

Alayna Schmidt

Ph.D. Student
Research Assistant to REYSE Collabotatory

Office: 131 Sirrine Hall



Vita: View

Personal Website:

Educational Background

Ph.D. Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management
Clemson University

M.S. Experiential & Outdoor Education
Western Carolina University 2022

B.A. Biological Sciences
North Carolina State University 2017


Alayna Schmidt (she/they) is a Ph.D. student in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management and a Research Assistant with R.E.Y.S.E. Collaboratory. Having previously worked as an environmental educator, she sees all work related to education and the environment as inherently political. Their research and practice is rooted in justice and applied toward collective liberation. They have most recently served as an equity consultant in Western North Carolina.

Research Interests

My research interests are informed by critical and post-structural perspectives of leisure entangled in the interconnections of social justice, youth development, and the environment. I am particularly interested in engaged research that interrogates power and privilege and uses theories and methodologies that challenge hegemonic white patriarchal idea(l)s of what counts as knowledge in academia.

Specifically, my current research interests lie in Appalachian cultural geographies, histories, and contemporary practices of resistance and solidarity; emancipatory environmental education; youth-led and intergenerational organizing; arts-based and creative methodologies; and post-qualitative inquiry.

Research Publications

Outley, C. W., Schmidt, A., Pinckney, H. P., Séne-Harper, A., & Brown, A. (In Press). Leisure, Race, and Racism. In M. Stodolska, D. Scott, &T. Liechty (Eds.), Leisure Matters: Exploring Leisure in a Changing World (4th ed., pp. 277-290). Sagamore-Venture Publishing.

Schmidt, A., Schultz, C. S., Schultz, J., Hinnant-Crawford, B., & Palomar, M. B. (2023). Art as counternarratives: A/r/tographic understandings of Black youth’s conceptualizations of nature. Leisure/Loisir.

Schmidt, A., & Schultz, C. S. (2023). Researcher as curator: Making room for the politics of emotion in leisure research. Leisure Studies.

Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance. (2023). eeGuidance for equitable pay and hiring in environmental education. [served on writing team].

Schmidt, A., Outley, C. W., & Schultz, C. S. (2022). Can (or should) white women do Black Feminist Theory?: Exploring tensions, contradictions, and intersectionalities while performing justice-focused research. Leisure/Loisir.

Schmidt, A., & Bobilya, A. J. (2022). Engaging youth as community leaders in outdoor education research, program design, and evaluation. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership, 14(1), 78-86.

Butler, Z., Laughlin, A., Ormsby, A., & Schmidt, A. (2020). Experience and the effectiveness of biological artifact collections and nature play areas. University of North Carolina – Asheville McCullough Fellows Undergraduate Research. [site coordinator].

Honors and Awards

Outstanding Partner Award, Environmental Educators of North Carolina (2023)

$10,000 Youth Development & Nature-based Programming Grant, Children & Nature Network (2021)

Significant Achievement in Education for Budgets Less than $8 million, Association of Zoos & Aquariums (2021)

Outstanding Practitioner Award, Environmental Educators of North Carolina (2020)

Natural Leader, Children & Nature Network (2020)


REYSE Collaboratory

Black Youth's Counterstories of

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
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