National Outdoor Recreation Education Resources

two people hiking on a mountain trail
Hiking in the Snowy Range Mountains of southeast Wyoming

No matter what outdoor activity you love the best, there’s an association for it or a website dedicated to it!

Here are some organizations that offer outstanding educational resources for you. There’s a vast amount of free online information, all the way up to several thousand dollars for multi-week programs.

Take a look and take advantage of what these organizations have for you:

Alderleaf Wilderness College

Alderleaf is a unique college near Seattle, Washington that offers coursework year-round on all kinds of wilderness survival topics. The reasons we’re listing them here is:

  • They have a very informative email newsletter with articles on topics like knife making and wild edible plants. They also have an active blog with posts on all kinds of wilderness living topics.
  • They offer an online course on Essential Wilderness Survival Skills (what a great idea for a homeschool high school science credit!)

American Canoe Association

The American Canoe Association (ACA) covers canoeing, kayaking, whitewater kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Their mission is to get more people paddling and to work to protect our waterways for paddlers.

ACA’s website offers a ton of online educational content, whether you’re a beginning paddler or wanting to grow in your skills.

They also offer hands-on courses all over the US and in 30 other countries, all taught by ACA-certified instructors. If you love paddling, you can be certified as an ACA Instructor, too.

American Hiking Society

The American Hiking Society (AHS) is the national voice for hikers. Maps, trail suggestions by state, conservation advocacy and how-to resources are all part of their mission.

AHS’s Hiking 101 page has several dozen articles for you on topics like gear, outdoor skills and safety. Their National Trails Day is the first Saturday of June every year. It’s a nation-wide event to get people out hiking on a local trail.

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

NOLS is a non-profit “global wilderness school” based in Lander, Wyoming. Their world-class outdoor education uses the wilderness for a truly hands-on experience in leadership training, wilderness medicine and risk management. They offer courses and expeditions all over the world (like Patagonia, the Himalayas and  New Zealand) from a few days to a full college semester.

If you or someone you know is serious about making a career in outdoor adventure, leadership or travel, you need to check out NOLS!

Northland College

Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin has been ranked by Backpacker Magazine as one of the top colleges in the US for outdoor enthusiasts. Part of the reason for that is it’s location close to Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands and great northern Wisconsin hiking. Part of it is their dedication to environmental concerns no matter what degree program their students undertake.

For students hoping for a career in the outdoors, Northland offers a degree in Outdoor Education in one of four different areas of study. Learn more about Northland College.

Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries (SROM)

SROM is a non-profit, faith-based wilderness ministry based in Laramie, Wyoming. Like NOLS, they offer courses from a few days to an accredited college semester. Their courses include training in wilderness backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, wilderness medicine and Leave No Trace ethics. They bring their students to iconic locations in the American West like the Teton Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Canyon.

If you or someone you know is serious about making a career in outdoor adventure, leadership or travel and would like the training from a Christian worldview, you need to check out SROM!