5/15/18 The Wilderness Technology Alliance (WTA) is elated to announce our first wilderness-technology program in 15 years! As many of you know, the WTA was founded in 1995 on the belief that wilderness training programs provide indelible leadership and teamwork skills needed for project-based learning in technology. It is the character-building piece that most workforce development programs leave out. When combined with technology training and work-based learning experience, it provides all the ingredients needed for gainful employment and entrepreneurship. It is also how we got our name! Yet with tight budgets, it is is often difficult to convince funders of the value of wilderness training, which led to the removal of the Mount Kilimanjaro youth expedition from our program in Tanzania.
Through amazing serendipity, members of the US Army Special Forces reached out the executive director of Our House, a workforce training program for at-risk youth in Maryland, about leading wilderness leadership & teamwork program for youth at Our House. Who better than Special Forces to know the value of outdoor leadership and how to deliver it to at-risk youth! At the same time the WTA reached out to Our House about creating a wilderness leadership program with multimedia training and having the youth develop a digital video and brochure for the host land management organization as their culminating work-based learning project – combining leadership, teamwork and technical skills in something authentic and relevant. It did not take long for the WTA and the US Army Special Forces to connect and the program was conceived…
But conception is not enough, we also needed a host land management organization for the expedition and a technology project for the youth to work on for that land management agency. Through further serendipity, the former Deputy Director of the National Park Service (ret) and former Superintendent of Olympic National Park (ret) who hosted a WildTech program at Olympic in 1996 happens to live in the DC area. She was brought into the conversation and introduced us to the leadership at Shenandoah National Park.
Finally, we needed a funder passionate about our cause. Through even further serendipity, the executive director of one of the foundations that funds the WTA is also passionate about the value of outdoor leadership in workforce development. After a number of conversations and a proposal, she agreed to fund it. Though all the details of the program are not yet finalized, we are very excited to share this update and hope to have a feature story with lots of pictures in our next newsletter.