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.

The program will include:

  • Four 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, outdoor skill development, raising up the next generation of conservation leaders, how to inspire hope and a love of nature, 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 1,500 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.
  • 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 gear for use at events in their communities.
  • Specific 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.
  • Fun nature activities and lesson examples from the Ecologist School Guidebook, including guided hikes day and night, wildlife viewing, nighttime games and more.
  • Inspiration and knowledge to help you create your own Nature Community.
  • Community building with a meal around fire.
  • 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 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. Apply here.

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.

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