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Released November 26, 2003

SOUTHERN MISS ALUM NAMED
'OUTDOOR PERSON OF THE YEAR' BY NATIONAL MAGAZINE

HATTIESBURG - An alumnus from The University of Southern Mississippi was recently named the 2003 Outdoor Person of the Year by Hooked on the Outdoors magazine.

Markley Anderson, a behavioral specialist for the Lamar County School District, was selected by readers of the national magazine and will appear in the December issue. Entries for the honor were submitted from across North America.

This month's issue, featuring the Top 10 Outdoor People of the Year, seeks to honor "inspiring people who share a passion for the outdoors and a commitment to sharing the passion with others."

"Driving cross country 2,000 miles and climbing Mount Rainier in temperatures below zero produces a satisfaction that you can only experience if you are on top of that summit," Anderson said. "That's what challenges me."

An avid bicyclist, rock climber, rafter, mountain biker, weightlifter, runner and backpacker, Anderson keeps a busy schedule. But he still makes time to volunteer for several area facilities for troubled youth, where he uses outdoor recreation as therapy. He has also served as an adventure guide and counselor for several summer camps for youth and has been the recreational coordinator for the Children's Center.

A former U.S. Army Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, Anderson competes in adventure racing around the country several times a year. "These activities have made me a stronger, more introspective person, which allows me to continue to take challenges with a positive outlook and have successful outcomes," Anderson said. "It also provides me an avenue to use with others, which facilitates experiences for them to be successful."

Jackie Lebeau, an adventure racing teammate of Anderson's and a fitness coordinator in Southern Miss' Recreational Sports Department, said his passion for the outdoors is "contagious."

"Coaching me for adventure races, Markley has taught me more about overcoming challenges than I ever thought possible," she said. "By spending time with him during our training sessions, I've discovered that connecting with nature can be much more than just a hobby, but a truly rewarding lifestyle as well."

Anderson prepares for these events through weekly, monthly and summer training sessions and trips. "Cross-country trips expose me to new terrain and conditions," Anderson explained.

Anderson said his father exposed him to the outdoors at an early age, and he continued to pursue outdoor activities throughout high school and during his service in the Army.

"The Army led me to try different arenas in the outdoors, and I continue to explore the unknown through my own curiosity."

Anderson graduated from Southern Miss with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. He was a lifeguard and also served as the outdoor adventure coordinator and graduate assistant for Recreational Sports. Anderson received a master's degree in counseling psychology from William Carey College. Anderson plans to continue adventure racing, taking it to expedition -- or multi-day style -- races. In addition to competing in the upcoming Eco Challenge, he hopes to climb mountains both in the United States and other countries such as France, Switzerland, New Zealand and Argentina.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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