Youth Outside is now accepting applications for the 2019 cohorts of the Outdoor Educators Institute.
Are you an 18-24 year-old Bay Area resident who would like to strengthen your leadership... for FREE? Interested in connecting people to the natural world, but don't have the skills? Do you want to connect with the outdoors as a tool for growth, learning, and FUN? The Outdoor Educators Institute can provide you the training, skills, and experience necessary to become an outdoor leader and advocate for your community.
What is the Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI)?
OEI is a three-month long professional training program offered on evenings and weekends in the fall of 2019, starting on Saturday, August 24th. OEI trainees will learn and practice a variety of outdoor skills necessary to becoming a culturally relevant outdoor leader. OEI components include leadership training in wilderness backpacking, sea kayaking, outdoor facilitation, environmental education, group management, conservation skills, and equity and inclusion practices. OEI will support participants to develop their skill set, become culturally relevant outdoor leaders, locate opportunities for outdoor employment and volunteering, and create outdoor programming for their communities.
This year, we're excited to be expanding OEI and creating *two* distinct cohorts, one in the San Francisco/Oakland area and one in the South Bay (specific locations still to be determined).
Skills Graduates Learned:
- Showing up authentically
- Better serving underrepresented communities
- Making better decisions
- Leading with a mindset of inclusion
- Listening and paying attention to how (people) learn best
- Incorporating different ways of facilitating; honing my evaluative and facilitation skills
- Understanding better how to work with nonprofit organizations
- Integrating indigenous knowledge and science and utilizing the environment as a classroom to teach youth
- Growing confidence in my leadership style
- Understanding myself better, and the direction of the career I want for myself
Graduates are Saying:
- "I have been challenged to show up authentically in ways I have not before, which has helped me grow into my confidence as a facilitator, as a human coexisting with nature, and queer Latina in the outdoors."
- "OEI has reminded me that we all belong here. The outdoors needs our voices and youth that look like us to remember our people and to steward our natural environment."
- "Participating in OEI has been a life-changing experience. I had no idea the impact this program would have on me when we started 4 months ago. It's developing a relationship with nature, developing a relationship with others, and developing a relationship with yourself."
Applying for OEI
Qualifications: 18 – 24 year-old Bay Area resident. Has demonstrated need for financial assistance to pursue skills for a career in youth development and/or the outdoors. Applicants from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds, women, and members of the LGBTQ community are strongly encouraged to apply.
Requirements: Commitment to attend and complete this three-month program is mandatory, including evening workshops and weekend trainings. A strong desire to bring outdoor programs to underrepresented communities is also critical. Previous experience in the outdoors preferred but not required, preferably as a participant in an urban-based outdoor program.
You can apply online here.
You can also find the 2019 OEI Application downloadable/printable here. Space is limited to 20 participants per cohort, so apply now!
Priority application deadline: June 25, 2019
Final application deadline: August 2, 2019
Structure & Logistics
OEI is a three-month professional development program that supports entry-level youth development workers in gaining experience in the outdoors, strengthening facilitation skills, and thinking critically about inequities in access within their communities. Accepted cohort participants will meet in the evening, once a week over the course of three months. Additionally, there will be a minimum three-weekends-a-month commitment to acquire outdoor experiences and develop a sense of comfort and belonging in the outdoors. Some training components will result in a certificate of proficiency/accomplishment. Upon successful completion of OEI, participants will be well-versed in outdoor leadership skills, opportunities for engagement in the outdoors, and supported in creating outdoor programming for youth development and community agencies.
Overview of primary training components
Cultural Relevancy, Equity & Inclusion Trainings: Workshops, discussions, and readings regarding power, privilege, and allyship; history of social justice issues in the outdoors and in outdoor/environmental organizations
Wilderness Expedition: Three-day overnight wilderness backpacking expedition, including expedition planning, backcountry camping, navigation skills, and leadership development
Outdoor Water Skills: Weekend sea kayaking expedition, including kayaking skills, group management on the water, and a swimming lesson/refresher course
Environmental Education: Teaching natural history (plants, animals, earth systems, environmental science) to youth of all ages, as well as history and social justice challenges and initiatives of local organizations
Conservation Skills: Trail maintenance, safe tool use, and conservation and stewardship philosophy
Beyond the OEI Training Program
Outdoor Program Creation & Support: Participants and their community partner agencies will be given access to resources to create, implement, and strengthen outdoor programming. Resources include mentorship from industry professionals, discounted and free activities from delivery partners, and information and opportunities to apply for outdoor program funding.
Expedition Partners: Participants will be better situated to connect their communities to the outdoors utilizing industry leaders and best practices through networking and relationship building with local and national outdoor programs.
Employment, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities: Accepted participants will be connected to local and national outdoor nonprofits and encouraged to continue to grow professionally, by participating as a volunteer, intern, or employee from an outdoor organization.