Workforce and The Wright Collegiate Challenge – Readying for a Career in the Outdoor Recreation Industry

Chuck Sullivan

1 year ago The Wright

Presented in partnership with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, The Wright Collegiate Challenge is a semester-long program helping to prepare Colorado higher-ed students to enter the workforce by providing first-hand experience working alongside small businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop actionable solutions to current-day challenges within the outdoor recreation industry sector.

Over the course of 10-weeks, student teams representing Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Industry Studies Program, Colorado Mountain College Leadville Campus, and Western Colorado University’s Outdoor Industry MBA Program have immersed themselves in solving a real-time issue facing their respective Challenge Partner. On Monday, April 25th, the 2022 Wright Collegiate Challenge will culminate with a final live event at which teams will present their understanding of the challenge at hand and pitch their solution. At the conclusion of the program, a panel of judges, each a leader in Colorado’s outdoor industry, will present awards for Best in Class, People’s Choice, and Most Engaged Team. Projects are evaluated based on criteria such as a clear understanding of the problem, actionable solutions, innovative approach, potential impact, and overall team engagement in the project.

“A program like The Wright Collegiate Challenge plays a crucial role in preparing the next generation of workforce for careers in the outdoor industry by providing the type of hands-on experience that students are asking for and employers are requiring,”  says Samantha Albert, Deputy Director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. “Additionally, important networks are established linking students, employers, educators, and community partners, which takes on a particular level of significance when talking about rural Colorado communities like the ones represented here.”

Students participating in The Wright Collegiate Challenge receive a Certificate of Completion issued jointly by The Wright and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, a division within the greater Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Certificate recipients will have demonstrated growth and understanding in eight core competency areas identified by the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE). They include Career & Self Development, Communication, Critical Thinking, Equity & Inclusion, Leadership, Professionalism, Teamwork, Technology.

In selecting this year’s projects and Challenge Partners, The Wright, along with the Colorado OREC Office and its participating Academic Partners, put out a call for proposals in Fall 2021, inviting business and nonprofit employers to submit a challenge for consideration. Ultimately, the following organizations and their respective challenges were selected:


mountainFLOW eco-wax – Carbondale, CO

The mountainFLOW eco-wax challenge is to develop a buy-back program for fluorinated ski wax. Fluorocarbons have been a staple ingredient in ski wax for decades. However, recent studies have shown that this “forever chemical” is carcinogenic and has bioaccumulated in environments near ski areas. While the use of fluorocarbons has been prohibited in most major race circuits, thousands of pounds of this toxic ski wax are still available for sale and legal for recreational (non-race) use. As envisioned, this buy-back program would be the first of its kind and would remove old wax from ski shops and be disposed of properly, ensuring that it does not further contaminate our Colorado watershed.

Mountain Racing Products (MRP) – Grand Junction, CO

Makers of high-end mountain bike suspension, drivetrain products, and components – designed, tested, and built in Colorado. The MRP Challenge is to develop a cost-effective environmental sustainability plan that addresses product packaging and ultimately reduces the amount of plastic currently in use, and increases the percentage of sustainable packaging materials across all of our products.

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) – Alamosa, CO

SLV GO! helps organize, support, and guide community efforts to implement outdoor recreation resources and break down barriers between communities and the outdoors. With their challenge, SLV GO! is embarking on a community process to explore and promote a “rails with trails” program that will extend across 5 counties and 154 miles of rail line. Key to this project is the need to build broad community support from adjacent property owners, county commissioners, and state agencies. We are estimating an economic impact of $10 million a year to the region once the trail is complete.

Town Hall Outdoor Co. – Steamboat Springs, CO

How do you best spread the word about a new, rural Colorado brand? That is the challenge at hand. Town Hall is a sustainable kids outdoor apparel brand selling direct-to-consumer via their website with just a few wholesale partners around the state. The challenge is for the students to develop a premier brand awareness strategy that converts brand love to revenue, builds community, and fosters a lifelong passion for the brand and its values. Town Hall has committed $2,000 to put toward a student-led marketing initiative.

Click here to learn more about The Wright Collegiate Challenge. And be sure to follow along at @TheWrightColorado for updates, announcements and to discover this year’s award winners!


The Wright Collegiate Challenge is presented in a programmatic partnership with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The OREC Office serves as the State’s central coordinator of outdoor recreation industry matters, which includes policy and resource development, industry promotion, and connection with the constituents, businesses, and communities that rely on the health of the State’s outdoor recreation economy.