Frank Lupton

Born in Paola, Kansas, Dr. Frank Lupton joined the WIU Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (RPTA) in 1971. He received a graduate degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign.

Known as Doc Lupton, he valued and fostered communication between students using field trips and other experience-based education methods. He gave students the freedom to be creative. Doc Lupton recounts that one of his favorite awards was winning the WIU Phi Eta Ki pick a professor contest. A former RPTA student remarked, “His educational philosophy should be adopted by every teacher on campus. He is student-oriented and not teacher-oriented. He leaves the door open to success instead of failure.”

Lupton’s philosophy included challenging students to have as many experiences as possible. He challenged students to develop leadership skills by stepping outside of their comfort zones. In 1976 Lupton was given the Faculty Lecturer Award citing his involvement in major academic issues and his contributions to WIU. The Phi Eta Sigma Honorary Society named him faculty member of the year in 1978.

Throughout his career, Doc Lupton was known as a dedicated scholar. His legacy is the work he did with RPTA faculty and students to develop pivotal programs including Horn Field Campus and the development of the ECOEE program. His reach goes beyond WIU with his involvement as a founding member of the Wilderness Use Education Association, a nation-wide professional organization. He retired in 1993 and now resides in Minnesota.

About Horn Field Campus

Horn Field Campus (HFC) started out as nothing more than woodlands, prairie and several miles of nature trails. In May 1965, Western Illinois University decided to purchase the site for $96,200. The State of Illinois agreed to pay $56,000 with the remaining $40,200 donated by Frank Horn. To honor his generosity, the property was named Frank J. Horn Field Campus.

Since opening, improvements have been made to enhance Horn Field Campus. Under the guidance of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (RPTA) professor Doc Lupton, with the department chairperson’s support, classes were moved from Stipes Hall to Horn Field Campus. Students created HELP (Horn Environmental Laboratory/ Learning Project) where they worked to gain professional experience, which included developing trails and interpretive brochures, erosion control, and creating a resource center for visitors to the campus.

Horn Field Campus has continued to find new ways to meet the ongoing changes to the recreation field. In 1980, with the help of the Youth Conservation Corps, a team’s course was developed.  In 2001, a climbing tower was constructed and a high ropes course was added.  A few years later, in 2006, a campsite and several viewing areas were established along the Lazy Creek Trail.

The skills that students learn and practice at Horn Field Campus open windows to professional opportunities for their future.  

About Environmental Conservation and Outdoor Education Expedition (ECOEE)

WIU had offered the ECOEE program every year since its creation in 1976, giving students a wealth of real-world experiences. The program was an initiative of Dr. Frank D. Lupton who at the time was the faculty advisor to the Illinois Student Branch of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. While attending a conference, he met Paul Petzoldt, a well-known mountain climber and outdoor leader. Lupton talked with him about the program and Petzoldt was intrigued, and said “… bring them to Wyoming and I’ll take them into the mountains. I’ll equip you out of my store.” It was decided that they would spend five weeks in Wyoming and the new “Expedition Experience” program was started.

Doc Lupton drove his students out to Wyoming to meet Paul Petzoldt. They toured around the National Parks, learning from programs and park guides. The trip solidified the main points of the future Wilderness Education Association and ECOEE program, including expedition planning and behavior, trail techniques, conservation, evacuation and rescue, health and sanitation, mountaineering, camping skills, cooking, judgment and much more. Positive feedback from everyone involved resulted in the approval for the “Expedition Experience” to continue.

Doc Lupton reflects that the ECOEE program gives students “professional preparation in outdoor leadership through experiential education. While prerequisite planning courses take place in the spring semester, the actual field studies expedition occurs during the fall semester. The field studies experience focuses on principles of outdoor leadership and teaching, wilderness travel and minimum impact camping skills, outdoor adventure recreation, and environmental education and interpretation.”  Many describe the program as a wealth of real-world experiences that create memories that last a lifetime.

Research assistance provided by WIU RPTA student Amanda MacKenzie.