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Outdoor Academy

The Outdoor Academy is a pilot program created by the Friends of RGDN. Activities will include fly fishing instruction, rafting workshops, and specialized certifications needed to become a rafting or fishing guide. We will foster kids through the entire process, from introducing them to rafting/fishing to navigating the outdoor recreation industry.


● Introductory Course: 3 days with a professional guide/instructor learning basic and intermediate skills

● Fly tying: 5 session course designed to teach the basics of fly tying

● Guide School: Outdoor Academy will partner with outdoor recreation businesses already offering guide schools. These same businesses will provide a pathway to the industry through internships.

● Specialized qualifications: Students will have the opportunity to achieve CPR/first aid, swift water rescue, and other certifications as needed.

● Outdoor Academy subcontractors will offer internship opportunities for young people who have successfully completed the program providing local, underserved youth with the skills to forge a path in the outdoor recreation industry is the Academy’s goal.


We will utilize experienced guiding instructors from NM outfitters. NM Wild has received funding from the LOR Foundation to implement youth field trips at RGDN starting in fall 2023. This program will be a gateway to the Outdoor Academy, where we will send youth who wish to pursue additional education about outdoor guide services.

Training will happen in the field under the guidance of instructors, or at the various guide schools with whom we will subcontract. We anticipate enlisting approximately 20 young people in the first year of the Academy. Due to the customized instruction and subsequent mentorship/internship, the count will be small to ensure the best possible outcome. As we further develop the program, the number of students will undoubtedly increase. Ultimately, successful alumni that go on to work as guides will be brought back as paid mentors to subsequent groups of Outdoor Academy students. Our support won't stop at education, however. The guiding companies with whom we contract will provide mentorship and internship opportunities post-Academy. This is a win-win situation, as the NM outdoor recreation economy’s homegrown labor pool is seriously deficient, especially relative to Indigenous, Hispano and Latino communities. Many outdoor recreation businesses struggle to find a qualified workforce locally and are either forced to import talent or turn down business. Systemic inequality in the outdoor space has excluded many native New Mexicans from the guiding/outfitting industry. Ironically, it’s these same people that are often best suited for the job, as they have a deep connection and understanding of the landscape where they would be guiding.

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