Outdoor guide online training program offered for free

Kayakers receive instructions from their guide before a trip in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Image credit: Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant

A new international training program for outdoor guides and outfitters is now available online for northwestern Wisconsin. The program, named Guide and Outfitter Recognized Professional (GORP) is being offered by Wisconsin Sea Grant in conjunction with Oregon Sea Grant.

GORP content was developed with input from professional guides, educators and tourism organizations. It’s aligned with best practices recommended by the Adventure Travel Trade Association. With completion of the program, experienced guides and outfitters will be recognized for their existing knowledge and information on a wide range of topics and best practices, demonstrating the value of their guiding services over competitors to potential clients. For aspiring guides, it will provide a great foundation for their future business.

GORP consists of four online modules that participants are encouraged to complete within a month, although there is flexibility. These are augmented by optional live webinars conducted by Oregon Sea Grant Extension staff. The next course begins Monday, Nov. 1, and it is free. Future course offerings will have costs associated with them. Although the course is geared toward northwestern Wisconsin, registration is open to all and may be helpful to guides in other parts of Wisconsin, too.

Course content covers a broad range of knowledge and skills that guides can use to improve client experiences, including identification of 101 local species of plants and animals, knowledge of local history, natural resource agencies, tourism organizations and economic impacts, group management, customer service, sustainability, marketing, personal interpretation skills and more.

Those completing the GORP program will be awarded a certification and a package of marketing benefits including: a GORP branded shirt, GORP logo vinyl for boat or truck, special listing on the GORP website, and other online marketing services.

Development of Wisconsin’s GORP program was led by Natalie Chin, climate and tourism outreach specialist for Wisconsin Sea Grant. For more information or to register, visit the GORP site and choose the Wisconsin program.