New Hampshire is searching for a new outdoor director just as a report is being issued that a lack of workforce reinvestment, development, and stagnant wages have hampered growth.
Scott Crowder, the state’s first outdoor director in the new state Office of Outside Recreation Industry Development, is returning to the private industry at the end of this month after successfully launching it as the nation’s 16th such program which look to develop the outdoor industry. He was appointed to the new position in April 2021.
Crowder will be announcing a new state initiative next week launching a state trails inventory which will be announced at Whaleback ski area in Lebanon Wednesday night.
The effort comes at a time when a report by Backyard Concept LCC shows New Hampshire’s employers in the outdoor industry are targeting a younger demographic to fill the growing demand for work, but are finding it difficult to fill the open positions with qualified help.
The report shows that the industry saw a huge boom during the pandemic. More people were interested in exploring the outdoors and needed and purchased, gear, training, and supplies.
But a lack of workforce reinvestment, professional development, and stagnant wages have left open positions, contributing to a weakening labor pool that is holding back potential development.
Tyler Ray of the Granite Outdoor Alliance and Backyard Concept said the snapshot in time showed the industry which is “bursting at the seams” with demand and opportunity.
Employers have been just trying to keep up and have not had enough time to develop a workforce to help sustain the growth, he told InDepthNH.org, Friday.
He said education about the jobs available and the technical needs – from mountain bike mechanics in the Mount Washington Valley to ski lift repair to boating mechanics in the Lakes Region – is needed and may allow some to stay in the mountains and lakes and woods that they grew up in and get jobs to meet the demand coming from outside the region to enjoy and explore the state.
Additionally, he said, the growing electric car and charging opportunities are out there as well as technology changes how people get to the mountains, lakes, and woods.
He said there are efforts at a number of high schools to start working on recruitment and training and there is much more potential that is yet untapped but now identified.
Taylor Caswell, commissioner for the state Business and Economic Affairs told the Executive Council Wednesday that the state is now looking for a new outdoor director and that the job has just been posted as being available online.
Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, whose district includes the state’s North Country and most of the Lakes Region, said the job is critical to his district.
An announcement of the job was placed in a newsletter read by many in the state’s outdoor industry, THE OUTPOST, which was distributed Friday morning.
“When Scott announced his decision to return to the private sector this past week to continue certain business objectives it was bittersweet news for Granite Outdoor.
“Scott played a big behind-the-scenes playmaker role for GOA. Now we get to see what he does when unleashed back into the business world.
“Pretty sure we’ll be seeing more of Scott and we’re excited for when that happens. Until then, thanks Scott, and best of luck!” the newsletter read.
The top state job in the outdoors, now up for grabs, is for someone who “administers agency objectives of outdoor recreation industry development in New Hampshire, including programs, operations, and promotion, to optimize opportunities for economic growth and diversity and contribute to a healthy, connected community.”
Pictured: Tyler Ray of Granite Outdoor Alliance, left, and Outdoor Czar Scott Crowder are pictured by the Saco River last July. (Paula Tracy photo)