Working at NCOAE
Professional development — learning that allows you to earn or maintain professional credentials — is key to career planning, especially when it comes to considering a career in the outdoor adventure and education industry. Much more than participating in a bunch of classes, our sector of the outdoor industry looks favorably on applicants with wilderness medicine training and certification, skills training and certification, and hands-on guiding and expedition leadership experience.
Truth is, we here at NCOAE found that operating an adventure education company during a health pandemic was challenging. And staffing our AEE-accredited organization with highly experienced instructors became increasingly difficult but not impossible.
Like other industries, we suffered a staffing shortage, and yes, some of our existing staff left to pursue other pathways. But what we’ve noticed lately is a lack of experience from some people who thought working in the outdoors would — quite literally — be a walk in the park.
Many of these would-be outdoor educators and guides decided that sitting on a couch while looking at photos and films of wilderness expeditions was a suitable alternative for actually going out and experiencing the outdoors.
This potential pool of applicants backed out and went the way of the “Instagram Adventurer” or the “Armchair Explorer.” And in talking with our colleagues across our sector of the outdoor industry, we’re not alone in seeing this trend. Nearly all outdoor adventure and education organizations are taking pause and evaluating the future of trainings, staff recruitment, and what it means to be qualified to head out into “wild places.”
Regardless of what other organizations choose to do about their staffing challenges, NCOAE will not budge on what is required of our field instructor and outdoor educator candidates. Hands-on experience coupled with recognized industry certifications still matter and always will.
If you’re interested in a seasonal or full-time job in outdoor education, here are my recommendations on how to proceed. (more…)
Oftentimes after a successful outdoor adventure, at least one smiling student comes up to me and says, “Man, I wish I had your job.”
Well, of course you do. As far as you know, I’m getting a paycheck for camping, climbing, paddling and exploring in some of the most beautiful spots on earth. That part’s true. As outdoor education instructors, we get to work with others who share that passion for the wilderness. We love the job and we can’t think of another occupation that would be half as satisfying.
But there’s a lot that goes on before you can go out and bag that dream job. And just looking the part isn’t enough to get you in the door and on the trail.
We want to give you some preliminary — quick and dirty — career tips for those who are serious about becoming an outdoor educator, experiential educator, and/or an adventure educator. Throughout the year we will revisit this topic with additional tips and offerings from the experts here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).
Here are a few of the basics for obtaining that sought-after outdoor educator position, starting off with a short rundown of high-level skills and certifications you’re going to need to get started: (more…)
Jena Honeyman was born to teach, but not in the public school system where standardization appears to have removed hope of educating the individual. That’s why Honeyman — a native of Washington State who was raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York — is a perfect fit for the staff here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education. Her recent experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail with friends convinced the 2011 graduate of the Univ. of North Carolina Wilmington to pursue a career that meshes the outdoors with education. She wants kids to know that they can learn and enjoy things without a bunch of money, as well as create memories to last a lifetime while preserving the world’s beauty for the next generation.
Get to know this self-described Amelia Earhart fan here, in our latest NCOAE Staff profile:
NCOAE: Tell us about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful?
Jena: For starters, we have to realize that everyday is meaningful. We will all be gone soon enough, so it’s important to live while we can. When teaching in the public school sector, a student wrote me a note that pulled at my heartstrings. I realized then it wasn’t a “could do” but that “I was” impacting lives. The note referred to the interesting approach I took to teaching and thanked me for the nature walks and classes in the sunshine. We all have the ability to connect as humans in so many beautiful ways if we just allow ourselves.
NCOAE: What do you think about when you’re alone on the trail?
Jena: In addition to being aware of my surroundings and safety, I wonder about random things such as… Do we have such an affinity for electronic music nowadays because we live in an age where we are so ‘linked in’ that our brains respond better to the frequency of a computer and not the soul of a bass string? Pretty random, right! And then I snap out of it and think about how I don’t want to be in love with a computer and its frequency, but instead with the soul of the artist. That’s when I realize that I’m an artist in just my walking and the way I move, and then I laugh at how ridiculous the thought is and I smile and hope I’m not the only one thinking such ridiculous things when alone on the trail.
NCOAE: What gets you excited?
Jena: SQUIRREL! Oh wait; that’s Penny my dog. But as you can sense, I’m as easily stoked as she is. Killer sunrises, sandy toes and warm coffee excite me, as does waking up to newly fallen snow — particularly of the light and fluffy variety, which is excellent for skiing. The warmth a wood stove gives off excites me (especially when tuned into the knowledge that I started, stoked and maintained that fire myself). Giving excites me. Giving a smile that creates one back or leads to laughter. Guiding someone to see a cliff, a view, or a vista and knowing that I am part of him or her forever because of that shared experience excites me.
NCOAE: On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?
Jena: You tell me… I (more…)