The Mentoring Networks of Outdoor Educators


  • Michael Riley University of Utah



mentoring, outdoor education, instructors, NOLS, developmental networks


The dynamic and transitory nature of outdoor education (OE) employment may make the cultivation of traditional dyadic mentoring relationships challenging. This study used the developmental network perspective, which positions mentoring as a multirelationship phenomenon, to better understand how OE instructors working for NOLS access mentoring support, help ascertain the types of mentoring support instructors find meaningful, and delineate the attributes of effective mentoring relationships. Twenty-one instructors with differing levels of experience were interviewed for this study. Data indicated that interviewees found meaningful mentoring support from a variety of sources, namely, senior instructors and near peers. The provision of career-related support, specifically support that helped mentees navigate organizational culture and gain more work opportunities, was highly regarded by participants and positively impacted career outcomes. Challenges facing instructors seeking mentoring support and the implications of these results for instructors and OE providers are discussed.Subscribe to JOREL

Author Biography

Michael Riley, University of Utah

I am currently a 3rd year PhD student in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism department at the University of Utah where I study adolescent development through recreational opportunities occurring in outdoor environments.


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