Train to become a certified family nature guide through Families in Nature’s Guide Development Program (GDP). Gain the skills and confidence to get your school or community out into nature to play, learn and volunteer together!


Anyone interested in taking families outside to explore and learn in nature. This program is for parents, grandparents, teachers, community leaders, environmental educators, professional outdoor guides and more.

The GDP is also a great resume builder for those looking to grow or expand their career in the outdoor, environmental education or conservation fields. Continuing education credits may also be available.

All are welcome to this training and as participants in FIN.


Two days of camping, learning and exploring with a like-minded community who believes in the power of shared family time in nature.

The program will include:

  • Five training modules, including why families need nature, how to plan successful adventures, risk management and keeping families safe outdoors, the benefits of teaching science outside, discovery-style outdoor teaching methods and best practices, Leave No Trace principles, raising up the next generation of conservation leaders, how to inspire hope and a love of nature and more.
  • Specific training on FIN’s campus campouts program for schools and other community organizations.
  • Training on and access to FIN’s exclusive Ecologist School Program, which includes a curriculum of more than 1,500 hands-on S.T.E.A.M lessons in 16 branches of science relevant to ecology.
  • Demos of camping and other gear (tents, sleeping pads, camp kitchens, etc.) from FIN’s Gear Library. Completion of the training will allow guides to borrow gear for use at events in their communities.
  • Outdoor skill building, including how to make a campfire, archery lessons, knife skills and more.
  • Fun nature activities, including guided hikes day and night, wildlife viewing, nighttime games and more.
  • Community building with a Saturday evening potluck around the campfire.
  • Individual and small-group mentorship opportunities, and inclusion in FIN’s community of practice.

The weekend is family-friendly with activities provided by FIN’s Junior Ecologists for kids and other family members. Camping gear will be available to borrow, as needed.


The Spring 2020 GDP will be held at the spectacular Ardor Wood Farm in Red Rock, Texas, about an hour’s drive from Austin. The farm’s campground has been graciously donated by friends of FIN, Karen Knight and Graham Pierce.

Ardor Wood Farm is being beautifully restored to bring biodiversity and balance back to the land. We will have the opportunity to enjoy the farm’s 67 acres, hike the trails, meet the Nigerian dwarf dairy goat herd, observe many species of animals in their natural habitat and simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the farm.

Ardor Wood Farm
300 Lockwood Road, Red Rock, Texas 78662


Saturday, April 18, 2020 to Sunday, April 19, 2020.

There will also be approximately three hours of reading and reflection to prepare for the weekend.

How and How Much?

To apply for the program, please complete the online application.

The cost of the GDP is $500 per person, including access to FIN’s exclusive Ecologist School Curriculum. Discounts are provided for multiple guides from the same organization. Full and partial scholarships are available. FIN is pleased to offer this program at no charge to guides associated with FIN’s 2019-20 school and community partners and guides from Title I schools in the Austin area.

Questions can be addressed to Jordan Joly, FIN’s Program Coordinator, at