Outdoor Recreation Roadmap: A Community-Led Approach to Leveraging Your Natural Assets for Economic Success and Local Renewal, Thursdays April 6–May 4, 2023


Outdoor Recreation Roadmap: A Community-Led Approach to Leveraging Your Natural Assets for Economic Success and Local Renewal, Thursdays April 6–May 4, 2023

Backpacker outside retail store

Whether they are old hands or just getting started, communities across the country—and around the world—are looking to outdoor recreation to play a bigger role in their community and economic development strategies, and even to anchor a new sense of common purpose, pride and care.

So how do you make this work for you? In this course, we drill down to the nitty gritty—how to bring your community together around outdoor recreation to generate more awareness and buy-in, make quick progress that can be sustained over time, and create meaningful changes that make a difference for your community’s business and economic vitality, physical health and confidence. You’ll learn a step-by-step process that you can adapt to use “nature-based placemaking” to transform how your community sees, talks about and invests in itself to make it a more attractive place to live, visit and do business.

The “outdoor recreation economy” is at the heart of a burgeoning development trend for rural areas and small cities. Outdoor recreation is among the country’s largest economic sectors, supporting 7.6 million U.S. jobs and adding more than $59 billion to state and local government coffers.

The U.S. Forest Service calls outdoor recreation a “growing and diverse economic super sector.” Most of the $887 billion spent on outdoor recreation each year goes to pay for the experience (travel costs, guides, lessons) while about 20% is spent on equipment, apparel and other “stuff.” Here’s one way to interpret this: outdoor recreation offers many different entry points for communities looking for an economic leg up.

Even more important to understand as you look to improve, revitalize or pull your community up by its bootstraps: investing in outdoor recreation earns dividends in healthier communities, healthier economies and healthier people. According to the Forest Service, “outdoor recreation is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it is now a ‘must-have’” for community resilience, competitiveness and spirit. The Outdoor Recreation Industry Association calls it “an under-appreciated and underfunded weapon against crime, poor academic performance and rising health care costs.” Sure, they are industry advocates, but they are also right!


  • Understand the different aspects of the outdoor recreation economy and identify specific strategies for tapping each one.

  • Learn how to assemble a strong cross-sector planning and implementation team, and how to both work with willing volunteers and expand your circle.

  • Learn how to engage your community in identifying assets, opportunities, how outdoor recreation fits into your community’s unique culture, and what can make your community and outdoor recreation stand-out.

  • Map your community’s assets, including those that may be hidden or under-appreciated, and turn that map into an outdoor recreation development strategy.

  • Understand how to do market analyses, feasibility studies and other research and planning without getting bogged down or breaking the bank, and how to build measurable outcomes into your projects.

  • Learn how to use “hands-on branding” to identify what’s so special about your place and how to communicate it, no matter whom you are trying to reach.

  • Dig into a variety of models for program development, entrepreneur and business support, facilities development, and long-term management and evaluation.

  • Learn a practical approach to community projects that creates short-term visible progress to build long-term, sustainable momentum.

  • Learn to identify and tap sources of funding and other support, and to leverage resources available in your state.

  • Outline an outdoor recreation roadmap for your community.


Your registration fee includes a post-course one-on-one or team consultation session to address your particular situation and needs.


Community & economic development organizations and agency staff • Outdoor recreation user groups and organizations • Parks, trails and other recreational facilities managers • Chambers of Commerce & business alliances • Place-based & conservation organizations • Extension & community development professionals • Downtown & Main Street groups • Business owners & other community leaders


Ross Greedy honed his passion for using outdoor recreation and nature as a motivating force for community development through experience as an outdoor adventure guide and outdoor educator, as well as leading collaborative outdoor recreation projects as a municipal outdoor recreation program manager and planner.

Michele Archie is a principal of The Harbinger Consultancy. She brings 30 years of experience with community engagement and community economic development in rural communities across the West and throughout the country to this course.


Six live one-hour weekly video conference sessions

Spring Session - Thursdays, April 6–May 4, 2023, 11–12 pm PT/2–3 pm ET

Fall Session - Tuesdays, Oct. 10–Nov. 14, 2023, 11–12 pm PT/2–3 pm ET


  • Every class will be presented live and available for replay in case you need to miss a session or want to review.

  • $525 regular course fee • $425 early registration discount through February 28, 2022

  • Discounts for two or more participants from the same organization or community: $375 early registration, $425 regular group rate

  • Contact us for special rates for groups of five or more. We often work with cohorts in our courses, and can create a custom package including group meetings and coaching during and/or after the course.