For the past year, Oregon State University has been leading a nationwide effort to create a national Outdoor Recreation Workforce Development Consortium. This Consortium would bring together academia and the outdoor industry to address the industry’s workforce needs and skills gaps and to develop stronger, more consistent, and more accessible training and education programs for outdoor industry careers. By building effective partnerships between academic institutions and the outdoor industry at a national level, the Consortium can help academic programs directly and expeditiously respond to the needs of the industry and can help create clear and consistent pathways into outdoor industry careers for all people. The Consortium will work together to advance the interests of people, businesses, and communities while helping to foster a more diverse outdoor industry workforce, a more inclusive outdoor industry, and more welcoming outdoor spaces.
On September 27 and 28, 2021, post-secondary education faculty and staff interested in the Consortium met virtually for the first time. Erin Gaines, the Government Affairs, Policy, and Advocacy Strategist for Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy, facilitated the discussion, and Chris Perkins, Senior Director for the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, presented a brief overview of the outdoor recreation economy and how higher education can play an important role in developing a strong, consistent, and diverse workforce for the outdoor industry.
“After many months of making connections with higher education leaders in outdoor recreation across the country, this was an exciting opportunity to bring everyone together for the first time to share progress and gather feedback,” says Gaines. “We had great attendance and engagement during the two sessions. It’s clear that there is genuine interest in joining forces to shape the future of outdoor recreation education and career development.”
Leaders from 32 academic institutions across the country attended the meeting. Many types of institutions were represented, including large public universities, HBCUs, and community colleges. The range of representation is in alignment with the Consortium’s goal of ensuring diversity of thought and perspective in the creation and operation of the Consortium.
The Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy at Oregon State University is excited to continue working with post-secondary education leaders and outdoor industry partners to bring the Consortium to life. If you are part of an outdoor recreation program at a post-secondary educational institution and you would like to learn more about the Consortium, please contact Erin Gaines at email@example.com.