Outdoor Educators Institute

Youth Outside is excited to be facilitating three cohorts of the Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI) this summer and fall; one in the San Francisco/Oakland region, one in the South Bay, and, for the first time, one in Fresno! Meet our 2020 cohorts here.


The Outdoor Educators Institute develops the next generation of culturally relevant outdoor leaders by building competencies and leadership skills in young adults who have encountered hurdles or lacked the resources to work in the outdoors. The Outdoor Educators Institute is, at its core, advocacy for the inclusion and representation of underrepresented populations, especially those that have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors.

For young adults, it provides a clear path to a profession through representation and culturally relevant trainings. Through training passionate young adults, we begin shifting the narrative of the outdoors from one traditionally held solely by people with power and privilege to that of one that includes and embraces people from all walks of life, and reflects the realities of the youth that will become future champions of the earth.

For the field, OEI establishes the method by which the next generation of racially and socioeconomically diverse outdoor educators are prepared for service, creating the opportunity for underrepresented youth to see and identify with people in outdoor education programs who look like them and come from similar backgrounds.

The OEI Program

OEI is one of our flagship yearly programs, through which we support young adults interested in pursuing a career in outdoor education through an immersive training program on evenings and weekends over a three-month period.

OEI trainees will learn and practice a variety of outdoor skills necessary to becoming a culturally relevant outdoor leader. OEI also provides opportunities for outdoor employment and volunteering, as well as supports participants in building outdoor programming for their communities.

For more info on the program, and how we’re adapting to 2020’s unique circumstances, please see our OEI 2020 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Primary Training Components

  • Backpacking Expedition: Expedition planning, navigation, and backpacking and camping and skill
  • Sea Kayaking: Kayaking skills, water safety, and group management in water sports
  • Outdoor Education: Teaching youth of all ages in a natural setting and curriculum building for diverse populations
  • Conservation Skills: Trail maintenance, safe tool use, and conservation and stewardship philosophy
  • Rock Climbing: Climbing technique, anchor building, and safe belay trainings
  • Professional Skills: Block planning, job site skills, and program budgeting
  • Equity, Inclusion and Cultural Relevancy: Workshops, discussion and practical skills to address social injustice

Beyond OEI

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.

Access to Outdoor 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.

Internships, Volunteer Opportunities and Employment: Accepted participants will be connected to local and national outdoor non-profits and encouraged to continue to grow professionally, by participating as a volunteer, intern, or employee for an outdoor organization.


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 under-represented communities; preferred previous experience in the outdoors, preferably as a participant in an urban-based outdoor program.


Contact the Senior Programs Manager Rena Payan at rena@youthoutside.org