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Jim Wall Honored as 2017 Alumnus of the Year

Jim Wall and his wife

Jim Wall was recognized as the College of Natural Resources 2017 Alumnus of the Year during the Evening of the Stars event, presented by the NC State Alumni Association. This invitation-only event recognizes alumni and friends of NC State who have given back to their professions, their communities or their alma mater.

“Jimmy is all about Think and Do,” said Dean Mary Watzin. “From park ranger to assistant professor to high ropes courses entrepreneur, he represents the true spirit of nurturing the environment while engineering sustainable products that go hand-in-hand with helping our communities and armed services thrive both mentally and physically.”

A Ropes Course Mastermind

A 1972 and 1984 graduate of the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management program, Wall represents the College of Natural Resources to his core. A former outdoor education center director, park manager, park ranger, and Iredell County Recreation and Parks director, Wall has an extensive background in designing military training programs and creating and maintaining ropes courses. He is currently the CEO and owner of Challenge Designs Innovations, Inc., based in Pineola, N.C. He provides high-quality products and services in the ropes course and tactical training industries, working with all branches of the United State military, colleges, universities, youth camps, and recreational and corporate training sites. Wall is also the president and owner of Sky Valley Zip Tour, an outdoor adventure experience by way of a Canopy Zip Tour in Blowing Rock, N.C., and the author of several editions of “The Complete Ropes Course Manual” with his wife Catherine Tait.

Wall is also the mastermind behind designing and building the ropes course at NC State’s Schenck Memorial Forest. In 2009, he donated all the equipment, materials, company man-power and time to create the course at NC State. Each year, he continues to support the Challenge Course through annual maintenance and long-term planning to expand the services offered to the NC State community.

“Little did I know as a young boy growing up on a tobacco farm in Eastern NC, dreaming of going to NC State and becoming a Park Ranger, that I would have such an incredible and interesting career,” Wall said. “I spent 12 years as a Park Ranger and Manager, working within the county, city, regional, and state systems. Along the way, I earned a Master’s Degree that prepared me to navigate many systems to come. My love of the outdoors expanded to outdoor recreation. I was fortunate to have a lot of opportunities to develop practical skills as a Rafting, Rock Climbing, Back Packing, and Sea Kayaking Guide throughout the Southeast. All of my experiences are directly related to the quality of education and professors at NC State. Especially notable are Tom Hines, Phil Rea, and Roger Warren.”