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This Website Can Teach You How to Become an Outdoor Journalist

TGR cinematographer Austin Hopkins and online editor Jonathan Desabris in the field. 

Before you go on any adventure in the outdoors, you should know your stuff. These days, however, the capacity to acquire outdoor skills is increasingly available online. Some might say that online instructions can never replace the personal teachings of someone who’s been through it themselves, but a new website - AIM (Active Interest Media) - changes all of that. 

They have courses in everything from equestrian training to exotic food preparation, but the best part of their website is the Adventure U section, where they offer courses in skiing, backpacking, climbing, outdoor cooking, avalanche safety, and more. Not only are these courses interactive and easily applied to real life, but they also personally connect you with experts in the field you choose. I demoed the Outdoor Writing course and was seriously impressed. If you’re on the fence about signing up for one of AIM’s classes, here’s a step-by-step guide to how this one works to help you decide.

STEP ONE: An Introduction

AIM connects you with an expert right away and has you send them a short email about your experience, interests, and goals. This step makes it immediately personal, and it’s also just pretty sick that an editor from SKI can mentor you right off the bat.

STEP TWO: Meet Your New Instructors 

The website introduces you to the course’s other instructors, all of whom are seriously experienced. For example, the instructors for the outdoor writing course are all either editors-in-chief or have high-ranking positions. AIM is clearly not messing around when it comes to the people they choose to teach.

STEP THREE: Learn the Basics

Here, they give you the stories of how the instructors achieved their lofty status. They also give you some basic information like terms you’ll need to know, which sounds boring, but don’t worry - this isn’t school. This is you learning to do the stuff you love. Plus, this section gives you a free subscription to the outdoor magazine of your choice. Major bonus.

STEP FOUR: Dive Deep

This step seems to be the course’s bread and butter, where it really dives into your topic and starts teaching you from the ground up. It includes quizzes and homework, which, if you actually want to learn the thing, are super helpful. While the idea of homework usually comes with a deadline, AIM understands that you have a life, or it’s a powder day, or that maybe you’re feeling lazy. You can do it your own pace, on your own time, in between work or school or trips to the backcountry. This section also has podcasts from each of the instructors to help you through the hardest parts.

STEP FIVE: Hear from the Pros

This stage teaches you how to create your own portfolio, how to network, etc. These guys are nothing if not thorough. They even got the marketing and communications director at Warren Miller to pitch in - basically, they’ve got bigwigs from every corner of the outdoor world to help you along every step of the way.

STEP SIX: Wrap-Up

This step is the wrap-up. It’ll be different for every course you take, but it gives you a certificate at the end to prove you finished. The part I liked best in this section were the videos with parting words and advice directly from the teachers. They feel like the nuggets of wisdom you would get from a crusty local on a chairlift, but in this case, you don’t have to happen upon them in the lift line.

No matter what AIM course you take, you’re going to be glad you did. This was more comprehensive and interactive than most of the in-person classes I’ve taken in my life, and it sets you up with the kind of access that people dream about. These courses are the real deal, no matter what it is you’re trying to learn. Of course, nothing beats the experience of going out there and learning your skills away from a computer. But if you want to really go the extra mile, don’t have time, or don’t live in the right place, AIM Adventure courses will get the job done. 

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