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Blue Sky Fund Seeking High Schoolers for Outdoor Leadership Institute

Blue Sky Fund is currently recruiting rising 9-12th graders for their 2023-2024 Outdoor Leadership Institute (OLI) cohort and is asking for help in attracting Richmond area students who would be good matches for this program. 

Are you or do you know a rising 9th to 12th grader who:
  • Is open to new and challenging outdoor experiences
  • Shows tendencies or interest in leadership
  • Is collaborative and works well in groups

Then reach out to apply or nominate someone for Blue Sky’s Outdoor Leadership Institute!

Why join or nominate someone? OLI is a year-long program for 24 rising ninth through twelfth graders who attend school in the greater Richmond metropolitan area, including independent and home schools. The commitment begins with a two week summer program that includes a 5-day wilderness excursion to Virginia’s highest peak – Mt. Rogers, trip dates listed below. Students will convene prior to the trip to learn backcountry basics, and help plan their excursion. Post-trip students will have time to debrief and reflect on what they learned in the backcountry.  

OLI continues throughout the upcoming school year with monthly community service projects and team building. This ranges from activities such as planting trees, preparing rooms at a housing shelter, and learning about food access through urban farming. These opportunities will showcase some of the many careers and pathways that exist within the spaces of experiential learning and outdoor adventures.

“I learned that without everyone’s unique and different skills, completing the hike would not have been possible. The diverse backgrounds brought everyone together and allowed us to become the best people and group we could be.” 

— Pender, Outdoor Leadership Institute alumni

Students who participate in OLI have the opportunity to build skills in leadership, personal resilience, collaboration all while learning together in the outdoors. The program design includes experiences that will help shape knowledgeable, culturally-aware, and empathetic student leaders. Students will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with a large variety of area professionals in the fields of outdoor adventure sports, environmental education & conservation, and beyond. Additionally, the work and time spent in the OLI will help any interested students in the pursuit of the Virginia Diploma Seals of Excellence in Civics or Science and the Environment. 

After completing the 2023-2024 Outdoor Leadership Institute program, all participants will have the opportunity to continue to be involved as alumni, fostering and mentoring the next cohort of OLI participants. 

Timing: Must be able to attend one of the two summer trips and commit to monthly “Service Saturdays”

This summer’s program dates are: 
TRIP 1: July 11 – 22, 2023 (Wilderness: July 15 – 19)
TRIP 2: August 1 – 12, 2023 (Wilderness: August 5 – 9)


Students can either apply directly via the attached link, or be nominated by a trusted adult.
The deadline to apply is March 17, 2023. 

If you have questions or would like to talk directly to a Blue Sky Fund staff person about this great opportunity, please reach out to David Buenrostro – Adventure Programs Manager – via email at or by phone at 804-495-1413.

Outdoor Leadership Institute: Blue Sky Youtube.

Read about Blue Sky Fund in RFM here.

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