FIN’s in-person Guide Development Program includes two days of camping, learning and exploring with a like-minded community who believes in the power of shared family time in nature. (currently suspended due to COVID-19, but you can join our online course. We hope to resume in-person training in Fall 2021.)

The Guide Development Program includes:

  • Information and inspiration to take students and families out into nature, including why people need nature, how to teach hope and foster a love of nature, how to plan successful adventures, risk management and keeping families safe outdoors, the benefits of teaching science outside, discovery-style outdoor teaching methods, outdoor skill development, raising up the next generation of conservation leaders, and more.
  • Training on and access to FIN’s exclusive Ecologist School Program, which includes access to the FIN Guide version of our original Guidebook before it is published. The Ecologist School Guidebook contains an informal science curriculum of more than 1,000 hands-on S.T.E.A.M lessons in 16 branches of science relevant to ecology, with which participants can earn badges and even certification as a Junior Ecologist.
  • Inspiration and knowledge to help you create your own Nature Community.
  • Demos of camping and other gear (tents, sleeping pads, camp kitchens, etc.) from FIN’s Gear Library. Completion of the training will allow local Austin area guides to borrow our gear for use at events in their communities. (in-person program only)
  • Training on FIN’s campus campouts program for schools and other community organizations.
  • Outdoor skill building, including how to make a campfire, outdoor cooking, how to teach knife safety, knots and shelter building, and more. (in-person program only)
  • Fun nature activities and lesson examples from the Ecologist School Guidebook.
  • Community building with a meal around fire. (in-person program only)
  • Individual and small-group mentorship opportunities during and after training.
  • Inclusion in FIN’s community of practice to enable you to share experiences and learn from our community of Guides.

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.


In-person Guide Development in Central Texas is typically 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


Postponed due to COVID-19

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

How and How Much?

To help us tailor our program to meet your needs, please complete the online registration form.

The cost of the GDP is $500 per person, and includes access to FIN’s exclusive Ecologist School Guidebook. Discounts are provided for multiple guides from the same organization. Full and partial scholarships are available. Register here.

For questions or additional information, please contact: Jordan Joly, FIN’s Program Coordinator, at