Outdoor Industry Workforce Summit

Colorado Outdoor Industry Workforce Summit Panel Members: Steve Skadron, mayor of Aspen; Ann Baker Easley, executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado; Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association; Jen McLaren, president and CEO of Smartwool; Len Zanni, co-owner and head of marketing of Big Agnes; John LeCoq, founder and owner of Fishpond; and moderator Luis Benitez, executive director of the Colorado Recreation Industry Office.

Cooper Mallozzi at the 2018 Colorado Outdoor Industry Workforce Summit

The future of the outdoor recreation industry is bright and Colorado Mountain College students hold the cliff notes and connections that will drive successful outdoor careers.

On Thursday, October 18, 2018 the Outdoor Industry Workforce Summit was held at Morgridge Commons in Glenwood Springs. A select group of students were invited to participate in a discussion about the future of the outdoor industry with local leaders and Colorado’s recreation professionals.

Recreational Networking

Colorado Outdoor Industry Workforce Summit Panel Members: Steve Skadron, mayor of Aspen; Ann Baker Easley, executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado; Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association; Jen McLaren, president and CEO of Smartwool; Len Zanni, co-owner and head of marketing of Big Agnes; John LeCoq, founder and owner of Fishpond; and moderator Luis Benitez, executive director of the Colorado Recreation Industry Office.
From left, Steve Skadron, mayor of Aspen; Ann Baker Easley, executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado; Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association; Jen McLaren, president and CEO of Smartwool; Len Zanni, co-owner and head of marketing of Big Agnes. PC: Leah Elkins

Opening remarks were shared by renowned photographer John Fielder and a panel discussion was lead by Steve Skadron, mayor of Aspen; Ann Baker Easley, executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado; Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association; Jen McLaren, president and CEO of Smartwool; Len Zanni, co-owner and head of marketing of Big Agnes; John LeCoq, founder and owner of Fishpond; and moderator Luis Benitez, executive director of the Colorado Recreation Industry Office.

“I chose to go to the Outdoor Industry Workforce Summit for the opportunity to meet smart and important people,” says Brendan Gleason, Ski Area Operations student at Colorado Mountain College Leadville, “I had the chance to personally meet the Mayor of Aspen, the Human Resources Director for Vail Resorts, the Manager of Operations for Aspen and Snowmass Resorts, and the President of the College.”

In addition to the networking opportunities offered to Colorado Mountain College students, panel members discussed various industry challenges, identified opportunities and shared what they look for in qualified applicants.

“One valuable take-away from the meeting was that in the ski industry, small skills such as communication, people skills, and cooperation are just as important as broad skills such as grooming, snow-making, or lift operations,” says Brendan.

A Promising Future for Outdoor Professionals

In February 2018, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released a report detailing the economic impact of the outdoor recreation industry. The report shows the outdoor industry makes up $373.7 billion, about 2 percent, of the entire 2016 U.S. GDP. The report also predicts a 3.8 percent growth for recreation, a faster rate than the overall economy.

CMC Leadville students prepare for careers across the outdoor industry by learning from local experts and gaining hands-on experience in their fields. They earn degrees in Ski Area Operations, Avalanche Science, Outdoor Recreation Leadership, Outdoor Education, and Natural Resource Management.

“Colorado Mountain College gives us a leg-up in every way possible,” says Cody Hall, a Ski Area Operations student from Carmel, Indiana, who also attended the summit, “We get all the experience from an associates degree while also refining communication and leadership skills.”

Colorado Mountain College was recently named Top Adventure College by Elevation Outdoors Magazine for its numerous educational opportunities in outdoor recreation and natural resource management, and its proximity to many year-round adventure-based locations.

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