An Exploration of Risk Management in Outdoor Education

Join three industry leaders in risk management and legal consulting to discuss how high quality programs evaluate and manage the inherent risks involved in outdoor and adventure education.  This series was recorded last year and was one of our best-selling webinars.


On Demand Access  Module 1, Module 2, Module 3


Risk Management 101:
Introduction to Risk Management

Presented by: Angie Moline

Webinar Description:
We teach outdoors because we love sharing our passion for the outdoors. We enjoy facilitating personal growth by presenting our students with challenging, inspiring activities in dramatic landscapes.  In order to meaningfully challenge our students, we engage in activities that carry reasonable risks that we manage with intention.

During this presentation I will describe a framework that administrators and field staff can use to talk about and manage risk.

Step 1: Identify your goals for taking people outside.

Step 2: Identify the risks.
Step 3: Weigh the risks of specific activities against your goals. Avoid, manage and reduce risks when prudent.
Step 4: Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!
Step 5: Regularly review your risk management systems. 

Presenter Bio: 
Dr. Angie Moline is the founder of Educate Wild! She has served as the Assistant Director of Education for the Landscape Conservation Initiative and a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at Northern Arizona University.  Angie has taught field-based courses across the western USA and Mexico for Northern Arizona University, the Wild Rockies Field Institute, Prescott College, and Outward Bound. She is the former director of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program @ NAU, the Grand Canyon Semester @ NAU, and the Summer Conservation Experience.  She holds a doctorate in ecology from Colorado State University where she served as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow for several years. 

Resource from webinar:
The UPLOADS Project


Building A Culture of Risk Management:
The Importance of the Near-Miss 

Presented by: Steve Smith

Webinar Description:
This presentation will look at the concept of a risk management/safety culture, describe some of the elements which go into creating that kind of culture, and discuss how reporting incidents and near-misses can help you foster learning and address the issues which cause catastrophic incidents.  We will examine research, articles, examples from various industries, personal anecdotes from my 20+ year career in outdoor education, and will invite participants to apply these concepts to their own programs.   

Presenter Bio:
Steve Smith has worked in the outdoor industry for over twenty years, specializing in program quality, risk management, and staff training.

Steve has served as the Chair of the Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) for three years (2014 - 2016) and has been a standing member of the WRMC Steering Committee since 2011. His career has included administrative leadership roles with national organizations including Outward Bound and The Student Conservation Association. Heis currently a board member for the Northwest Outward Bound School, where he also serves on the school's Safety Committee and Executive Committee.  He has a master's degree in teaching English, along with eight years of university-level teaching experience, and earned a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Society for Human Resources Management, all of which help him view outdoor education through a variety of educational and administrative lenses. 

Resource from webinar:
Case Studies




When Risks Include a Law Suit:
Legal Liability Issues in Outdoor Education 

Presented by: Reb Gregg

Webinar Description:
Considerably worse than a program with risks is a program without risks. Operational risks expose the service provider to claims of wrongdoing, and even lawsuits. Lawsuits may arise from alleged violations of laws and regulations, from broken promises, assaults and other intentional harm, and, most prominent, from negligent acts and omissions. Bad things happen to even the best programs.  Participants will learn: 
1.    What is a quality program?
2.    Operations areas where legal claims arise
3.    Understanding your duty of care to a client.
4.    Legal strategies for reducing that duty.

Presenter Bio:
Reb Gregg is a licensed attorney in Houston, Texas. He has served as president of the Houston Bar Association and on the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas.

For the past 15 years, Reb has worked primarily with recreation and adventure-based programs and is a leading practitioner, lecturer and writer in managing legal liability issues for such programs. He was identified in the July 2002 issue of Outside Magazine as "the Dean of the Outdoor Bar."

Reb's clients include outdoor schools, adventure travel and study abroad programs, college and university outdoor programs and clubs, and challenge course constructors, operators and facilitators.

Reb presently serves as counsel to the Association for Challenge Course Technology and the Independent School Experiential Education Network. He serves on the Risk Management Committee for Outward Bound International and The Student Conservation Association.

Throughout his career, Reb has served on numerous governance and advisory boards and as general counsel, including 30 years with the National Outdoor Leadership School.