Become a Mentor

Become a Mentor

Being an Explore Austin Mentor is a six-year, ongoing volunteer experience with youth in 6th-12th grades, with a commitment of one Saturday per month during the academic year and one week in the summer.

Make a Difference

Being a Mentor with Explore Austin allows you to make a difference in the lives of Austin youth, whom we call “Explorers,” the majority of whom are underrepresented in the outdoor-adventure space.

Teams are made up of five Mentors and 15 Explorers. Each Explorer spends 1,300+ hours over the course of the free, six-year program with their Mentors and fellow teammates. As a Mentor, you’ll also join a strong network of 100+ Explore Austin Mentors and Mentor Alumni. Our Mentors are caring, responsible adults who model courage and a spirit of adventure for their team’s Explorers. They also facilitate leadership and social-emotional learning activities and discussions during programming.

Prerequisites & Commitment

Caring, responsible adults
(age 21+)

who model leadership, courage and a spirit of adventure for youth in 6th-12th grades

Six-year commitment

If selected as a Mentor for a new team; if selected to backfill an open Mentor position, year(s) of commitment will vary

Commit to one Saturday
per month

During the school year (called Saturday Challenges)

Commit to a weeklong SWT

Summer Wilderness Trips occur each May, June or July, most of which are out of state

Background check

$18, required with application

Whether the conversations are big and life changing or small and seemingly insignificant, I know that the mentees in our program are learning to make decisions and set a path for their own lives. My team is still young and has many years left in the program. I’m looking forward to the adventures we will have, as we continue growing together.


How to Apply

Step 1

Confirm you meet the above requirements (Prerequisites & Commitments).

Step 2

Fill out the Mentor Interest Form. You will then be notified when the Mentor Application officially opens.

Filling out the Mentor Interest Form at any point in the year will also allow you to apply to become a substitute Mentor (“sub Mentor”), even outside the official Mentor application period.

Step 3

Fill out the Mentor Application, which opens August 2, 2024. Complete a background check along with your application. You will be notified on the status of your application in the fall. Selected applicants will begin the program in spring 2025.

NOTE: Mentor applications closed October 8, 2023 for the 2024 program year. Fill out the Mentor Interest Form if you’d like to be considered to become a substitute Mentor.

Contact Anitra Edwards, Program Manager, at or (512) 320-8899.

Mentors learn alongside their mentees – no previous experience required!

Mentors have the opportunity to learn a variety of outdoor disciplines and skills taught by Explore Austin’s Trip Leader staff, including:

Explore Austin Mentor

Hiking & Backpacking




Mountain Biking

Rock Climbing & Rappelling

The average Mentor to Explorer ratio is 3:1.

Our Method

Saturday Challenges and Summer Wilderness Trips afford Explorers the opportunity for leadership development and social-emotional learning (SEL) through experiential outdoor education. Mentors facilitate SEL discussions using evidence-based curriculum from the Search Institute to help Explorers gain self-awareness and interpersonal skills.


Saturday Challenges are in local natural areas and include activities such as backpacking, paddling, rock climbing, mountain biking, swimming, navigation and wilderness medicine.

Explorers learn more advanced skills each year, building confidence and strengthening overall wellbeing. One Saturday Challenge a year is a volunteer project focused on environmental stewardship. 

Wilderness Trips

SWTs are annual, week-long excursions to premier backcountry destinations across the country where Explorers apply the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout the year.

Last summer, our newest Explorers traveled to Texas’ Colorado Bend State Park while more experienced teams explored mountains, rivers and hiking and biking trails in Arkansas, New Mexico, Utah and Idaho. For many of our youth, these trips represent their first experience traveling away from home and their families, and their first time on a plane or out of state.


Explore Austin produces a pipeline of youth who are poised to become leaders within their spheres of influence. Over the course of six years, an Explorer spends 1,100 hours or more in nature mastering a variety of outdoor skills under the guidance of committed, caring Mentors and Trip Leaders. That proficiency, combined with social-emotional learning and our leadership approach, gives youth the tools and surety to teach others the skills they have learned, broadening the reach of our program. Explore Austin’s program helps youth pursue their own versions of success and enables them to envision possibilities beyond their current circumstances.