OEI Fall 2021 Cohorts – Applications Extended!

“Participating in OEI has been a life-changing experience. I had no idea the impact this program would have on me when we started four months ago. It’s developing a relationship with nature, developing a relationship with others, and developing a relationship with yourself.” – OEI Participant

Justice Outside is excited to be facilitating three cohorts of the Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI) this summer and fall (in Oakland/San Francisco, Fresno, and the South Bay), beginning August 21st for Oakland/San Francisco and Fresno, and August 28th for the South Bay!

**South Bay and Fresno Cohort Applications have been extended. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis and interviews will be conducted until August 21 or until a sufficient amount of positions are filled. EXTENDED APPLICATION can be found here: Online or Download PDF application (to print, fill out, and return).**

Are you a young adult who would like to strengthen your leadership skills… for FREE? Interested in connecting people to the natural world, but don’t have the skills? Do you want to connect with the outdoors as a tool for growth, learning, and FUN? The Outdoor Educators Institute can provide you the training, skills, and experience necessary to become an outdoor leader and advocate for your community.

What is the Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI)?

OEI is a three-month long professional training program offered on weekends starting August 21, 2021 and ending November 14, 2021 in Oakland/San Francisco and Fresno and starting August 28, 2021 and ending November 21, 2021 in the South Bay. OEI trainees will learn and practice a variety of outdoor skills necessary to become a culturally relevant outdoor leader. OEI components include leadership training in wilderness backpacking, sea kayaking, outdoor facilitation, environmental education, group management, conservation skills, and equity and inclusion practices. OEI supports participants in becoming culturally relevant outdoor leaders, locating opportunities for outdoor employment and volunteering, and creating outdoor programming for their communities.

This year, we’re excited to continue to offer three cohorts: one in Oakland/San Francisco, one in Fresno, and one in the South Bay!

“OEI has reminded me that we all belong here. The outdoors needs our voices and youth that look like us to remember our people and to steward our natural environment.” – OEI Participant

Read more about what alumnx have said about the Outdoor Educators Institute in our program evaluation!

Applying for OEI

Qualifications: Young adult living in the area of your relevant cohort (Oakland/San Francisco, Fresno, or the South Bay). Has demonstrated need for financial assistance to pursue skills for a career in youth development and/or the outdoors. Applicants from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds, women, and members of the LGBTQ community are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more info on the program, including how we’re adapting to 2020’s unique circumstances, please see our OEI 2021 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).


  • Commitment to attend and complete this three-month program, including evening workshops and weekend trainings.
  • A strong desire to bring outdoor programs to communities historically excluded and underrepresented in the outdoors.
  • Previous experience in the outdoors preferred but not required, preferably as a participant in an urban-based outdoor program.

Extended Application: Apply online or download a PDF application to print, fill out, and return). Space is limited in each cohort, so apply now!

Structure & Logistics

OEI is a three-month professional development program that supports entry-level youth development workers in gaining experience in the outdoors, strengthening facilitation skills, and thinking critically about inequities in access within their communities. Accepted cohort participants will meet in the evening, once a week over the course of three months. Additionally, there will be a minimum three-weekends-a-month commitment to acquire outdoor experiences and develop a sense of comfort and belonging in the outdoors. Some training components will result in a certificate of proficiency/accomplishment. Upon successful completion of OEI, participants will be well-versed in outdoor leadership skills, opportunities for engagement in the outdoors, and supported in creating outdoor programming for youth development and community agencies.

Overview of primary training components

Cultural Relevancy, Equity & Inclusion Trainings: Workshops, discussions, and readings regarding power, privilege, community building, advocacy, and allyship; history of social justice issues in the outdoors and in outdoor/environmental organizations

Wilderness Expedition: Three-day overnight wilderness backpacking expedition (COVID-19 restrictions permitting), including expedition planning, backcountry camping, navigation skills, and leadership development

Outdoor Water Skills: Weekend sea kayaking expedition, including kayaking skills, group management on the water, and a swimming lesson/refresher course

Environmental Education: Teaching natural history (plants, animals, earth systems, environmental science) to youth of all ages, as well as history and social justice challenges and initiatives of local organizations

Conservation Skills: Trail maintenance, safe tool use, and conservation and stewardship philosophy

Beyond the OEI Training Program

Outdoor Program Creation & Support: Participants and their community partner agencies will be given access to resources to create, implement, and strengthen outdoor programming. Resources include mentorship from industry professionals, discounted and free activities from delivery partners, and information and opportunities to apply for outdoor program funding.

Expedition Partners: Participants will be better situated to connect their communities to the outdoors utilizing industry leaders and best practices through networking and relationship building with local and national outdoor programs.

Employment, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities: Accepted participants will be connected to local and national outdoor nonprofits and encouraged to continue to grow professionally, by participating as a volunteer, intern, or employee from an outdoor organization.