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Honors Student Celebrates Graduation On The Buffalo River


Rita Langdon,Associate Provost for Communications, Public Relations & Marketing
Long Island University, LIU Post

Tim Heckman standing on boatLIU Post Honors student Tim Heckman celebrated graduation this spring with what many people would call an adventure of a lifetime. The day after commencement, he went on a canoe trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas with fellow honors students from around the country -- as part of PITP (Partners in the Parks), an experiential learning program organized by the National Collegiate Honors Council.

In fact, it was the third adventure of a lifetime through PITP for Heckman, a New Hyde Park N.Y. resident. In two previous years, Heckman visited the Grand Canyon and Sequoia National Park.

"I drove 19 hours to Arkansas with another student from New Jersey, stopped in Nashville, and arrived at the University of Central Arkansas the next day," said Heckman, who graduated with a B.S. in Earth Science: Adolescence Education. "After experiencing the Grand Canyon and Sequoia – backpacking in all our supplies for three or four days – I didn't want to just stay in a cabin somewhere. I wanted more."

PITP was founded by LIU Post English Professor Joan Digby, who is the campus Honors Program director. “PITP is predicated on a three-fold purpose: to educate students about the national parks, to engage them in recreational activities that are the essence of park experiences, and ultimately to urge stewardship of these treasured spaces through a lifetime of involvement,” she notes.

The Buffalo River trip accomplished all that, said Heckman. "We traveled 25 miles all together, through the middle part of the river where you don't have to battle rapids but still have an opportunity to admire some beautiful scenery," he said. "The parks in this country have so much to offer. Experiencing them with other honors students from around the nation is an incredible experience."

That's particularly true for students from the New York metropolitan area, noted Heckman. "Growing up on Long Island, there's no slowing down," he said. "I never really experienced the tranquility of the outdoors until I took advantage of Dr. Digby's program. Going to places like the Grand Canyon, Sequoia and the Buffalo River, you are able to relax, breathe deeply and do some introspective thinking about who and what is truly important to you."

The program, he concludes, is unlike anything he expected a university to offer. "You build friendships and network with students and professors from around the country, and it truly is a unique adventure," said Heckman. "There are programs for anyone, with no prior experience necessary. I recommend any honors student to talk to Dr. Digby or myself if they are interested in traveling to a national park."

LIU Post's Honors Program began in 1963, includes over 350 undergraduates in all majors, and is one of the oldest honors programs in the nation. It is a participating member of The National Collegiate Honors Council and the Northeast Regional Honors Council. Students may join honors for 4 years (30 credits), 3 years (18 credits) or 2 years (12 credits).  For more information visit of email

Posted 06/24/2013

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