Equipping the Outdoor Workforce of the Future: Collaborative Strategies for States and Outdoor Recreation Partners

This webinar showcases innovative and collaborative programs through the University of Colorado and Oregon State University to build the outdoor industry talent pipeline and facilitate state, industry, and academic collaboration on critical skills-based training.

Outdoor recreation contributes an increasingly larger benefit to the U.S. economy, forming 2.1% of U.S. GDP and generating over 5.2 million jobs through $788 billion in economic output, according to 2019 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. As the outdoor recreation economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector can provide a significant contribution to states’ recovery and long-term economic growth. Beyond the immediate task of recovery, state partnerships and investment in higher education and training programs can play a crucial role in equipping the skilled workforce needed to carry a growing outdoor recreation economy into the future.

This webinar shares how the University of Colorado is building a talent pipeline for the outdoor industry through flexible interdisciplinary programming including the Masters of the Environment and new Outdoor Recreation Economy graduate programs. Speakers also highlight opportunities through the Oregon State University Outdoor Recreation Economy Initiative and National Outdoor Recreation Economy Workforce Development Consortium for states, industry, and academic institutions to collaborate on skills-based training and higher education programs to prepare the talented and diverse workforce the growing outdoor recreation economy requires.


  • Lee Davis, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Economy Initiative, Oregon State University
  • Joel Hartter, Director, Outdoor Recreation Economy Program, University of Colorado
  • Erin Gaines, Industry and Government Relations, Outdoor Recreation Economy Initiative, Oregon State University
  • Moderator: Timothy Schoonhoven, Policy Analyst, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices