Pilot Year Update

 This year has been full of twists and turns. We've made progress anyway.


Even before wildfires began to ravage huge swaths of the West, 2020 was already a year for the history books. 

We came into this January full of enthusiasm and energy about our strong industry partnerships and our game plan for a successful pilot year. Then came COVID-19, economic disruption, devastating wildfires and a desperately needed national reckoning around systemic racism in this country.

We learned very quickly that 2020 wasn't interested in our plans. So we adapted. We reached out to our partners to see what they needed. We re-thought our program-delivery strategy, replacing in-person elements with online networking opportunities. We took a hard look at our programmatic support for diversity, equity and inclusion, and we pushed ourselves to make a meaningful contribution to the evolution of the outdoor economy.

We are still hard at work on all of those fronts, but this year has also taught us the importance of celebrating progress, especially when times are tough. With that in mind, here are a few of our pilot year accomplishments:

  • We partnered with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable to track the economic impact of COVID-19 on outdoor industry sectors representing 23,000 businesses with nearly 2 million employees. See the findings.
  • We piloted a leadership certificate program for early career professionals in partnership with the National Park Service. Learn more.
  • We partnered with the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association to develop and launch an innovative lift maintenance technical training program that combines online learning with onsite supervision. Learn more.
  • We collaborated with REI to develop a new model for scaled volunteer stewardship, which will also help the U.S. Forest Service retrofit its training for modern recreation resource planning and volunteer management. We’ll have updates on this work as they become public.
  • We spearheaded research to develop a competency-based approach to inclusivity training for our partners at AARP. This research will lead to numerous program development opportunities including training for consumer-facing employees in the outdoor recreation industry on how to best serve the needs of the 50+ community. 
  • And our most recent partnership with OSU-Cascades’ DEI Lab will support social equity and inclusion trainings for the outdoor recreation industry in Central Oregon. 

Of course, our pilot year isn't over yet, and given everything that 2020 has already brought with it, we're sure that there will be a few more curve balls before the year is through. That’s okay, though, because helping the industry adapt to change is one of our core values. So we’ll keep at it: learning, adapting and supporting the outdoor industry in reaching its potential. 

Meredith Morrice

Written by Meredith Morrice

Meredith is the Center's Strategic Engagement Manager

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