Location: Denver Metro
Timeline: We will conduct interviews from November 29 – December 6 with a start date at the beginning of January

About this Position
Cottonwood Institute is looking for knowledgeable and passionate field instructors to lead inspiring outdoor programs throughout the year. CI partners with local schools and youth organizations to connect students to the outdoors through camping and service-learning projects. Most programs operate in base camp settings throughout the Front Range. As a field instructor, you will be working with our CAP instructors to take their classes on field days and overnight camping programs as part of their courses’ culminating experience. Please read the CAP class section of our website to get a better sense for our flagship program.

Time Commitment
We are looking to hire a field instructor for field days and 1-night camping trips in the spring, with an opportunity to lead longer programs in the summer and fall. This is a variable hour part-time position, meaning that your contract will vary depending on the program schedule and your availability; you will receive contract dates for the upcoming season upon hiring. In addition to time on programs, your contract will include time before and after each trip for tasks like planning, packing out gear, picking up vehicles, unpacking gear, debriefing, and filling out paperwork. We pay for all time spent working, including training. Please see application for specific upcoming program dates.

What you will do
– Co-instruct 1-2 day outdoor experiences for middle and high school students
– Facilitate the development of positive group dynamics with and among teens through community building activities
– Teach and model exemplary interpersonal skills such as leadership, communication, and expedition behavior
– Teach and support outdoor skills development such as camp craft, outdoor cooking, and fire building
– Teach and support environmental awareness and connection, including leading hikes and place-based activities
– Implement CI’s Risk Management Plan during programming and be responsible for the safety of all participants
– Drive students to and from sites in company and/or rental vehicles, including 15-passenger vans
– Document program experiences with pictures, videos, blog posts, and participant quotes

This is a variable hour, non-exempt position. We are committed to providing a thrive-able wage for our staff, and we reevaluate our compensation structure regularly; we have recently increased our base pay to start at $20/hour. Instructor compensation may range between $20-27 an hour depending on certifications and experience incentives. Read more about our industry-leading compensation structure here.

CI pays for all time directly working with students during field programs, and employees are eligible for overtime at time and a half for more than 12 consecutive hours and for more than 40 hours in a work week.

Tagged as: Instruction and Guiding, Teaching/Education


Must be 21 years or older
Must have experience instructing or leading middle or high school student groups
Must have a valid driver's license by the start date of this position, pass a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) check, and complete driver training including online 15-passenger van training and behind the wheel training
Must pass a background check and a registered sex offender check
Must have current certification in Wilderness First Aid and CPR or ability to obtain by the start of this position

Required Skills:

Experience facilitating group camping and field logistics with teens, or a combination of previous work with youth and significant personal outdoor experience
Willingness to be flexible with dynamic conditions and program demands
Experience creating inclusive and supportive spaces with students from a variety of cultural economic backgrounds
Personal commitment to advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, especially in the outdoors
Enthusiasm for service-learning, environmental/outdoor education

Preferred Skills:

Spanish proficiency
Extensive experience with outdoor trip leading in an overnight camping context
Extensive experience teambuilding and facilitating teen leadership development in an outdoor setting
Extensive knowledge of local environmental issues such as fire ecology, water issues, plant/animal identification
Wilderness First Responder or W-EMT certification

About Cottonwood Institute

Cottonwood Institute (CI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit on a mission to connect middle and high school students to nature and inspire them to protect it. CI partners with local schools and youth organizations to engage students in the outdoors through environmental education programs and service learning projects. We lead classes and programs in Boulder, Denver, and Aurora and overnight trips throughout the Colorado Front Range.

Application Instructions

Fill out this form by the end of the day on Monday, November 27 (https://tinyurl.com/2ekcxszs) If you have any questions about this position, your qualifications, or our organization please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Associate Director at [email protected].