Call for Papers- JOREL Special Issue: The Outdoor Industry Workforce


Special Issue: Call for Papers

Special Issue: The Outdoor Industry Workforce: Aligning Preparation and Opportunities

Deadline for manuscript submission: May 1, 2024


Guest Editors:

Jeremy Jostad, PhD, Eastern Washington University (

Kellie Gerbers, PhD, Westminster University (

Genevieve Marchand, MBA/PhD, Western Colorado University (


The formal recognition and numeration of the outdoor economy in 2017 by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis highlighted the breadth and economic power of the outdoor industry (BEA, 2017-2023). For the first time, the outdoor industry has data to demonstrate economic and social contributions. However, the general public knows little about the breadth of the outdoor industry and what the entry points may be for potential professionals.

The outdoor industry encompasses a plethora of sectors, such as products, services, education, conservation, government, and more. The breadth and terminology of the industry become challenging for those looking to enter and for the professional identity of those already working within the industry (Harrison et al., 2022). Even though professional positions within these sectors fall under the same outdoor industry umbrella, professional preparation for each sector requires very different paths. While different pathways into the profession are not inherently a problem, the multiple pathways can create challenges for both aspiring professionals and those who train them, such as recognition of degrees, certifications, and experience. Consequently, what is needed is a concerted effort to align entry points into the industry with the best preparation.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) recently recognized the current job climate as a pivotal moment for the development of the outdoor workforce and published the Workforce Hub (ORR, 2023), a website that educates and orients the public about the industry and potential professional opportunities. The ORR identified four core opportunities for the outdoor workforce: 1) define outdoor jobs and close the skills gap; 2) build an outdoor workforce for all; 3) establish winning narratives on outdoor work; 4) address affordability and housing issues.

The purpose of this special issue is to better understand the needs of the outdoor industry, how best to prepare the workforce based on these needs, and how to attract and keep potential professionals.

Submissions for the special issue may address topics such as the following:

  • Local, state, and national initiatives geared toward the development and recognition of the outdoor industry
  • Strategies that the outdoor industry can use to support each other to form a cohesive workforce
  • Challenges and solutions to meeting the workforce needs of the outdoor industry
  • Challenges and opportunities related to the variety of sectors within the industry
  • Challenges and opportunities related to the variety of sector terminology
  • The role of professional preparatory programs and curriculum structures in elevating the outdoor industry
  • The role of credentials and experience in developing a career pathway
  • Gatekeeping in the outdoor industry, both professionally and recreationally, and how that affects the workforce
  • Transferring skills and knowledge (e.g. from non-outdoor industry sectors to the outdoor industry or from one sector to another within the outdoor industry)
  • Exploring notions of “professionalism” within the industry
  • Perceptions of the outdoor industry and their effects on current and future employment
  • Strategies for garnering interest in outdoor industry careers
  • Improving career sustainability by evaluating industry compensation, securing affordable housing, promoting work-life balance, and supporting a diverse, equitable, and inclusionary workforce
  • The challenges and benefits of pursuing careers in the outdoor industry in the current economic, educational, and political landscape


Jeremy Jostad

PhD, Eastern Washington University



Kellie Gerbers

PhD, Westminster University



Genevieve Marchand

MBA/PhD, Western Colorado University




Important Dates

Deadline for manuscript submission: May 1, 2024

Decision date for submitted manuscripts: July 15, 2024

Final resubmission for accepted manuscripts: September 15, 2024

Anticipated publication date: January 2025



Bureau of Economic Analysis. (2023). Outdoor recreation.

Harrison, D. l., Scruggs, C. J., Hendrick, M. L., Caraway, J. K., Morales, B., Jones, J.

         M., Kane, B. J., Perkins, I. M., & Zajchowski, C.A. (2022). Contemporary issues,

         opportunities, and resources for the U.S. outdoor recreation profession. Journal of

         Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 39.

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. (2023). Workforce hub.