The Outdoor Explorers Mentoring Program fosters life-long engagement with nature, stewardship, and community, and inspires the next generation of natural resource professionals by connecting underprivileged youth with the wild places in their backyard through intergenerational place-based outdoor adventures and service learning projects. In 2011, the Outdoor Explorers program was launched in Missoula to provide outdoor learning and recreation experiences to children and their mentors. In addition to building outdoor skills and confidence, an important aspect of the program is relationship building while providing positive role models who emulate outdoor stewardship behavior for children. The combination of adult and university student mentors provides a wide array of perspectives for children. The trips also provide valuable experience to university students interested in pursuing outdoor education or natural resource careers.
This program was created through mutual goals of various community organizations including: the Gallatin National Forest; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Gallatin County; Montana Wilderness Association; and Montana State University Wilderness Association and the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center.
Montana State University students are responsible for planning and leading outdoor trips for existing Big Brothers Big Sisters matches (Bigs and Littles) in/around the Gallatin Valley of Montana with support from numerous federal and local partners. All current Big Brothers Big Sisters matches have the opportunity to participate in these outdoor trips.
Outdoor Trip Details
- All trips planned and led by Montana State University Wilderness Association members and a Gallatin National Forest representative.
- One new trip per month, in/around Gallatin Valley.
- Trips will focus on outdoor skill learning (i.e., snowshoeing, backpacking, climbing, etc.), land stewardship ethics, and informal learning about the natural world.
- Evaluations will be conducted to measure changes in attitudes and behaviors regarding the natural world among children and university students.