Training teachers in traditional and outdoor education

At the High Mountain Institute, we believe deeply in the philosophy of education through experience. Apprentices are college graduates who immerse themselves in a hands-on semester-long apprenticeship with the HMI Semester (our semester school for high school students) in addition to participating in a rigorous seminar that combines formal lessons in educational techniques with philosophies of outdoor education.

Apprentices participate as both students and teachers in the wilderness, academic, and residential components of the HMI Semester. Guidance on career planning is available throughout the semester, and graduates of this program are well prepared for employment in outdoor or experiential education, boarding and traditional high schools, adventure recreation, and residential programs. Graduates are also in an excellent position to pursue an advanced degree in education. For a list of careers pursued by former apprentices, click here. Additionally, the Apprentice Program has a partnership with Western State Colorado University, allowing us to offer graduate credit to apprentices.


Apprentices participate in a one-week wilderness training expedition and help to facilitate the three HMI Semester wilderness expeditions. These expeditions consist of backpacking, canyoneering, and backcountry skiing (Spring Semester only), as well as formal academic and wilderness classes. The wilderness curriculum includes leadership and communication development, basic camping skills, navigation, risk management, and decision-making.


Apprentices work closely with an academic faculty member to hone their teaching style and skills. The specific subject areas which are available for apprenticeships are:

  • Literature of the Natural World
  • U.S. History
  • Natural Science
  • Spanish
  • Mathematics
  • Wilderness (the Wilderness Apprentice assists with the Practices and Principles class and works closely with the Director of Wilderness Programs)
  • Marketing (the Marketing Apprentice works closely with the Admissions and Advancement team; there is no teaching component to this position)

For a full list of course descriptions click here.  Additionally, apprentices are enrolled in a weekly Apprentice Seminar: Theory and Practice in Experiential Education. The curriculum includes leadership and communication skills commonly used in a classroom setting, teaching techniques, and risk management theories and practices.

Residential Life

Outside of the classroom, apprentices play an active role in the residential life of the HMI Semester by cooking meals with the students, helping with daily chores, participating in weekend outings, facilitating daily activities, and acting as a Cabin Head for a student cabin.

For a more in-depth look at the program, please read the Apprentice Program Semester Overview.

Meet the Semester 43 Apprentices

 Mike Dunne, Wilderness Apprentice, comes from outside of Boston, MA. He spent his childhood getting lost and muddy in the woods behind his house until he was old enough to get lost and muddy in the White Mountains of New Hampshire while attending summer camp. He found himself at HMI in the spring of 2014 as a student and has been plotting his course back ever since. His stint at the institute largely inspired him to stay outside and stay out West, and he ended up majoring in English with a focus in Creative Writing at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. (The town so nice they named it twice) While in college, he led sea kayaking and backpacking trips with the college’s outdoor program.  In the summers, he worked as a camp counselor and then outdoor trips coordinator. When not outside, you can find him reading, writing, strumming the ukulele, or trying (and often failing) to cook an over-elaborate meal.

Becky Fitzpatrick, Science ApprenticeBecky fell in love with the landscapes and people of the southwestern United States when she studied Natural History and Ecology at Prescott College in Arizona. After attaining her bachelors degree, Becky worked as a wildlife technician on a bear nutritional study in Yellowstone National Park, a tropic cascade study in Waterton Lakes Park, and a bison management study in Montana. She then began teaching wildlife science programs to high school students in the Yellowstone area, which grew into a love of teaching and place-based outdoor education. Becky returned to the southwest and worked for a conservation corps building trail and working on invasive species projects. She currently spends her time working seasonally as an outdoor educator with Outward Bound and Prescott College and as a Wilderness Ranger in New Mexico. Her love for wild places began young, and has continued to grow the more time she spends mentoring and teaching students within it. She has found no better teacher.

Cat Haas, History Apprentice, grew up in the mountains of North Carolina getting to call the sunny Blue Ridge mountains and their endless amounts of waterfalls home. Despite cherishing her time spent at home, growing up Cat spent most of her summers exploring Latin America and developing an appreciation for foreign places and an expanded comfort zone. While attending the University of North Carolina Asheville, she studied International Studies and Spanish while delving further into her passion of Latin American History and Mayan studies. It was during these years in the Appalachians that she was able to nurture her passion for all things outdoors, most specifically rock-climbing and backpacking amongst wildflower-rich peaks. After graduating from UNCA, she spent a year of service with AmeriCorps working as an academic enrichment specialist with elementary schools in Western North Carolina. Her time with AmeriCorps spurred a love of teaching, which inspired her to embark on a year of teaching Kindergarten in a small Mayan community in the Guatemalan highlands. Cat is excited to spend time exploring the Rocky mountains and find a sense of self within this new community. She hopes to take every moment as an opportunity to grow, and in turn inspire others to do so as well. You can most likely find her trying to rally people for a rock-climbing adventure or simply reading or writing in the sunshine with a cup of hot coffee.

Juliette Moffroid, English ApprenticeJuliette was born and raised just on the other side of the mountains in Basalt, Colorado. With the Rocky Mountains as her backyard she was spoiled in being able to hike, climb, and float in at a moment’s notice. Attending the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Juliette explored the ethics of the natural world and learned about the geological events and formations that made up the landscape in which she was immersed. Juliette attended the Oxbow School in Napa, California for visual arts in her junior year of high school. While at the semester school, Juliette further examined natural history by researching and then making prints about constellation myths across history and cultures. Juliette completed her B.A. at Kenyon College majoring in English with a concentration in Environmental Studies. In linking these subjects, she focused her studies on analyzing environmental poetry from Wordsworth to Dickinson to Frost, and wrote her thesis on the emphasis that Walt Whitman and Mary Oliver put on paying attention to the small details of the natural world in their works. After graduating Juliette moved to the antithesis of Basalt, East Harlem in New York City, and worked for a year for FoodCorps teaching gardening and cooking to pre-k through 4th graders in the Bronx. Even though she loved her school and the community she built there, Juliette was deeply homesick to jump in alpine lakes and streams, watch shooting stars, and see only mountains around her. It is with this attitude that she returns to her home state; ready to soak in the dry mountain air with long expeditions in the backcountry and the space to explore environmental literature in and out of the classroom.  

Corey Rost, Marketing Apprenticegrew up in Concord, MA and spent her summers playing in the ocean on Cape Cod. She attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated with degrees in Psychology and Business. At SLU, her love for the outdoors really evolved. She was deeply involved in activities led by the Outing Club which brought her on canoe trips around the beautiful lakes of the Adirondacks, cross country skiing in Maine and even a surf trip in Puerto Rico. Corey spent a semester abroad in Kenya focusing her studies on culture, development and environment in East Africa through experiential learning and cultural immersion. For her final month abroad, she worked in Watamu, a small village on the Kenyan coast, for an organization called the Local Ocean Conservation, which works to protect Kenya’s marine environment. Following her foreign adventure, Corey made her way out West for the first time working as a horsepacker for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Boulder, WY. The mountains stole her heart and she returned for a second season at NOLS before arriving at HMI. In her free time, Corey enjoys petting dogs, riding horses, cheering on the Boston Bruins and staying hydrated.

Nishchal Shrestha, Math Apprentice, grew up in Nepal, in one of the valleys at the foothills of the great Himalayas. His childhood was spent moving around various small villages with his family, and then a big chunk at a boarding school since he was 11 years old. And therefore, without him realizing, he had been exposed to travel and exploration at a very young age, and his boarding school had filled him with the spirit of adventure, goofiness, and sometimes, downright risk-filled stupidity. He came to the US in 2015 to study Computer Science at Earlham College. But who was he kidding? The thought of dwelling in ‘for loops’ and ‘if loops’ wasn’t as appealing as hiking a plethora of loops in the outdoors. Quickly after his first semester, he switched to pursuing a degree in Geology combined with Physics. Along the way, he picked up Outdoor Education and Business Management as his minors. Clearly, he had no idea what he was doing. During his college years, he did a few backpacking expeditions in the Smokies, Uinta Mountains and Joyce-Kilmer wilderness areas, and studied abroad in the beautiful outdoors of New Zealand (Aotearoa) where he did a lot of hiking, biking, sea kayaking, and backpacking. At HMI, you will find Nish goofing around with people, running/biking/playing soccer, in Math classes, in the mountains and the canyons, and hopefully working on his graduate school applications.

Madi Standen, Science & Wilderness Apprentice, was raised in Oak Park, IL, and developed a deep love of the outdoors at an early age, largely through the harassment of the minnows, frogs, and lightning bugs of northern Ontario. Transitioning to the harassment of counselors, Madi attended summer camp on the same lake for seven years as a camper and afterwards three years as a canoe trip leader. This experience left her with an appreciation for the way that unwashed hair, sock tan lines and slightly singed food cooked over a campfire can bring people together and allow people to become the best version of themselves. After her family moved to Pennsylvania in 2014, Madi attended Bucknell University to pursue a BS in Animal Behavior and a minor in dance. Working as a teaching assistant for freshman biology revealed her love for teaching and provided her an opportunity to geek out with students about the most recent pictures of black holes and the discovery of elephant language. After spending a summer working in Crested Butte at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab studying the fierce and sassy yellow bellied marmot, Madi fell in love with Colorado and is thrilled to be back in, what is in her opinion, “the most beautiful state in the world”.

Faith White, Humanities Apprentice, spent her childhood moving back and forth between the US and the UK. If you had told her 5 years ago that she would jump at the chance to wear Chacos everyday and explore the Rocky Mountains with a 50-pound pack on her back, she would’ve that you were crazy. However, it was her time studying abroad for a semester in New Zealand that introduced her to mountain magic. She soon combined her newfound love of the outdoors with her passion for working with young people and led hiking trips across the US for Overland Summers. She recently graduated from Hamilton College where she studied Sociology, sang in an all female acapella group, and served as a peer advocate for sexual misconduct prevention. In her free time, Faith loves to run, listen to podcasts, bake anything with pumpkin in it, and have spontaneous dance parties. This semester, she feels extremely lucky to have the opportunity to help HMI students grow as individuals and continually learn from them in the process.