I am a 29 year-old with an outdoor dream job.
There are two things worth noting in that statement. 1) Like every other 29-year out there, I am orphaned between generations: the old man of the millennials who doesn’t get enough 80’s pop-culture references to fit in with Gen X. And 2) I have an outdoor dream job and have a lot of dumb luck and good circumstances to thank for it.
While I’ll probably continue to struggle with my generational identity, as I approach the close of my first decade in the outdoor industry, here’s my list of 10 green job resources I wish I had known about ten years ago to help guide me in gaining experience and landing my dream green job.
- The Student Conservation Association – Travel to the country’s outdoor gems and gain great conservation experience along the way. Many SCA internships include money you can use toward students loan debt, and typically pay for expenses during your service. You know when you trace all the good things in your life back to a single decision? The SCA was that moment for me.
- The National Outdoor Leadership School, or NOLS, has been training outdoor leaders for the past 50 years. The outdoor skills and leadership I learned on my NOLS course, and in subsequent years as an instructor, have shaped who I am as an outdoor educator and supervisor in the workplace. NOLS courses range from 10 days to a year and can include sailing, backpacking, climbing, paddling and more.
For the students out there, remember you can get college credit for your NOLS course.
- USA Jobs – National Parks, US Fish and Wildlife, BLM and other US Land management agencies help protect the country’s most amazing natural resources. USA Jobs is your gateway into one of the 70,000 jobs in the Department of the Interior.
- The Wilderness Medicine Institute – WMI teaches wilderness medicine courses to thousands of students every year. What’s in it for you? The 16-hour Wilderness First Aid certification is a common requirement for many positions leading people in the outdoors, while the 80-hour Wilderness First Responder is more common for extended wilderness trips. Looks good on the resume and prepares you for the unexpected on your adventures.
- The Children and Nature Network – People today have never been so disconnected to the outdoors. The Children and Nature Network (C&NN) is a national network of organizations working to change that. Dig through the website for great research about the benefits of time spent in nature. Also look for regional networks near you that can be a great connection to your next dream job.
- Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics – The LNT principles have helped to preserve our wild places by teaching visitors to parks how to minimize their impact. Strengthen your resume with a Leave No Trace Trainer Course and help do your part.
- The Outdoor Industry Association – The outdoor recreation industry generates more for the US economy than gasoline or pharmaceuticals. The Outdoor Industry Association puts together some great resources for the outdoor industry. Check out OIA’s career center and outdoor participation survey as two great resources.
- BackdoorJobs.com – put the real world on hold for a little longer. Maybe try working at a summer camp in the mountains, teaching skiing at a resort, or leading wilderness therapy trips. They say opportunity creates opportunity and each of these backdoor job adventures can be the experience you need to snag your dream job.
- REI Outdoor School – Sure REI is a great place to gear up for your next adventure, but did you know REI also has hundreds of outdoor instruction videos and articles? Their outdoor school classes are a great way to sharpen your skills. Jobs at REI are a great way to get connected in the outdoor community and grab some killer discounts on gear in the process.
- C&NN’s Natural Leaders Network – Stay up to date on the best tools and training to be a leader in your outdoor community.
C&NN’s Natural Leaders Network is an international community of young adults committed to playing a leadership role in the children and nature movement.
Additional Reading and Resources
Portrait photo: Outdoor Nation; Mountain Photo: Ky Harkey by Corey Olsen; Bottom Photo by Texas Parks and Wildlife