What is Exploring?

Exploring is Learning for Life's career education program for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) or 15 through 20 years old. Adults are selected by the participating organization for involvement in the program. Color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, economic status, and citizenship are not criteria for participation.

Exploring's purpose is to provide experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. Explorers are ready to investigate the meaning of interdependence in their personal relationships and communities.

Exploring is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth and the organizations in their communities. Local community organizations initiate an Explorer post by matching their people and program resources to the interests of young people in the community. The result is a program of activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, and develop.

Explorer posts can specialize in a variety of career skills. Exploring programs are based on five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, life skills, citizenship, character education, and leadership experience.

Career Opportunities
Life Skills
Character Education
Leadership Experience


Young adults involved in Exploring will


The methods of Exploring have been carefully chosen to meet the needs of young adults.

Post Specialties

Every Explorer post specializes in a specific career program area. More than 100 different specialties have been organized, ranging from accounting to zoology. Some specialty programs, such as the following, have grown to include a national committee, activities, and staff support.

Arts and Humanities
The Arts and Humanities specialty area includes posts that are organized around interests in arts and hobbies, acting, commercial art, drama/theater, fashion design/modeling/buying, interior design/decoration, jewelry/watch-making, and movie directing/producing.
The Aviation specialty encompasses a range of programs, including maintenance, operations, construction, flight attendants, airport management, and aerospace. The Federal Aviation Administration supports this growth, along with aviation organizations, unions, and industries.
Through the Business specialty area, young adults become prepared for many types of careers, from accounting to financial planning. Many posts organize their program around knowledge of business planning and practices in addition to career preparation.
This specialty is endorsed by the Broadcast Education Association, International Association of Business Communicators, National Association of Broadcasters, National Press Photographers Association Inc., Public Relations Society of America, and Women in Communications. The Exploring program can serve as an effective outreach program that exposes high school students to careers in communications and public relations.
Many national engineering societies endorse this specialty area of Exploring. Its goal is to promote post programs that open and expand Explorers' understanding of the many opportunities in engineering and technology.
Fire/Emergency Services.
This specialty is endorsed by International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Volunteer Fire Council, U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Academy, and local fire authorities. Posts are organized around interests in fire/emergency services, civil defense, first aid/ambulance corps, fire fighting, rescue service, paramedic, EMT, and volunteer fire fighting. The national Fire/Emergency Services Exploring committee conducts every odd number year the national Fire/Emergency Services Exploring conference, which is open to all fire/emergency services Explorers and post Advisors.
Law and Government
The American Bar Association and other organizations support the high interest of many youth in law or government participation through Exploring. Law Day activities, mock trials, and other law-related activities provide firsthand experience in America's legal and court system.
Law Enforcement
This specialty is endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs' Association and is helped by other national law enforcement organizations and industries. Departments and Explorers gain firsthand knowledge of each other. Explorers can support many community-based programs of the department. The post program is supported by national law enforcement competitions and academies.
Medical and Health Careers
The American Medical Association and other national health organizations support the establishment of posts in hospitals, clinics, medical centers, schools, and other health-care organizations. These posts render valuable community service and give members an insight into a variety of career opportunities.
The Science specialty area includes posts that are organized around interests in general science, anthropology, archaeology, a career as an astronaut, astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computers/programming, conservation/ecology, environmental science, wildlife/fish management, and zoology/zoo direction.
Skilled Trades
The Skilled Trades specialty area includes posts that are organized around interests in auto repair, cosmetology, electrical, carpentry, and construction, to name a few.
Social Services
The Social Services area includes posts that are organized around interests in social service, adult care, child care, drug/alcohol counseling, exercise attending, funeral direction, home economy, librarian work, museum curation, school counseling, social work, teaching, volunteer work, youth organization volunteerism, and disabled career profession.
In addition to the above, other popular Explorer post specialties include conservation, computers, music, rescue, radio-TV, architecture, photography, and journalism.

Character Education

An important goal of Exploring is to help young adults be responsible and caring people, both now and in the future. Exploring uses "character education activities" to help young adults develop the ability to make responsible choices that reflect their concern for what is at risk and for the people involved. Because a character education activity is a problem-solving situation, leaders expect young adults to use empathy, invention, and selection when they think through their position and work toward a solution.

Post Activities

What an Explorer post does is limited only by the imagination and involvement of its leaders — build a glider, make an electric car, produce a play, conduct a mock trial, or teach disabled people to swim. Posts across the country today are experiencing all these adventures and many more. All that is needed are concerned adults who are willing to share a little bit of themselves with today's youth —tomorrow's citizens.

Getting Your Post Up and Running

Organizing an Explorer post (group) in your organization is easy! Just follow the Five-Step Plan for Post Program Development:

  1. Organization's Commitment: Secure a commitment from the chief executive officer of the participating organization.
  2. Career Opportunities Development Meeting: A training and program development meeting for post adult leaders conducted by an Exploring program representative.
  3. Post Firstnighter Meeting: A special and exciting hands-on meeting held annually by each post to recruit new youth participants.
  4. Post Activities Development Meeting: A program planning meeting with Explorers' input to reach agreement on post monthly activities.
  5. Explorer Post Officers' Seminar: Training meeting for elected post officers.

What Youth Want

Exploring research has revealed these major points:

Program Support

Learning for Life provides Explorer posts with the following support:

Learning for Life Web Site—www.learningforlife.org
Visit the Learning for Life Web site for ideas on how your business can connect with today's Explorers.

Liability Insurance for Participating Organizations
General liability insurance covers the participating organization on a primary basis for any responsibility they may have on Exploring-related matters without asking the participating organization or its own insurance to be involved.

Adult and Youth Leader Training
Learning for Life provides basic and advanced adult leader training sessions along with an annual post leader workshop, quarterly Advisor meetings, and an annual Learning for Life program planning conference.

National Studies

In 1969, a study was made of the special-interest posts being organized by William H. Spurgeon III, a businessman from California, and the newly completed research project for Exploring by Daniel Yankelovich. The study indicated that 83 percent of youth surveyed wanted more information on careers than they were getting at home or in school, and 94 percent wanted adult associations. Coed participation, sports, and adult-like recognition were found necessary to attract young adults to Exploring.

As a result of this study, special-interest Explorer posts were organized by businesses and professional and trade organizations. The career interest survey of high school students was developed to identify and recruit members.

In 1971, the upper age limit in Exploring was changed to age 20 for young men and women.

In 1981, the rapid growth of Exploring led to the development of national specialty programs in arts and humanities, aviation, business, communications, engineering, fire/emergency services, health careers, law and government, law enforcement, science, skilled trades, and social services.

In 1998, Louis Harris & Associates of New York was commissioned to undertake the challenge of identifying and uncovering the aspects of the Exploring program that serve as indicators of positive outcomes. They found the program contributes to the healthy development of today's young adults by providing them with the environment, resources, and relationships they need to learn and grow.

Today, Exploring is Learning for Life's career education program and exists to accomplish a major goal: to provide the structure and resources needed for the youth of America to learn about career opportunities, make ethical choices, and achieve their full potentials as individuals.

National Awards, Activities, and Scholarships


For More Information

Exploring Program, Learning for Life National Office, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079. Phone: 972-580-2433. Fax: 972-580-2137.

Please mail a postcard with your name, address, and telephone number. Indicate your interest in

____ Youth—Scholarship Information____ Youth—How to Join Exploring
____ Company—How to Organize a Post ____ Adult—Helping Mentor
____ Other—___________________________________________________________

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