Mike Marriner, Brian McAllister, and Nathan Gebhard
Mike Marriner founded Roadtrip Nation with his college friends Brian McAllister and Nathan Gebhard as a way to figure out their own lives' purpose. Now the 'Green RV' empowers thousands of students eager to live a more authentic and passion-filled life by giving them the tools they need to envision a path outside their experience.
“The number one reason students leave school is because they don’t feel their education is relevant or connected to real world learning opportunities.”
Not all students graduate college with a clear idea of their future. That was certainly the case for Mike Marriner, Brian McAllister, and Nathan Gebhard, friends who longed to experience more of the world and find their places in it. Outfitting themselves with a freshly painted RV, they took off for a road trip across the U.S. to meet the people who inspired them and perhaps gain some insight into what was next for them. From Maine Lobstermen to skateboard designers to the CEOs of national corporations, the trio saw paths and opportunities that they never knew existed.
Launching into a public speaking tour in support of the subsequent Roadtrip Nation book release, Mike says, “we realized that we weren’t the only kids feeling that our education was not very relevant to our futures or connected to the real world.” They could tell the students “were hungry for their own experiences... That really sparked in our hearts and minds the vision to build a movement empowering young people everywhere to explore possible pathways and opportunities for their own futures.”
That first trip lead to another, with a new batch of students at the helm; then to a PBS series running continuously since 2004; and eventually into the development of a nonprofit educational organization serving thousands of high school students hungry to see what lies beyond their report cards and homecoming games.
As Mike points out, “Right now in America there is a massive epidemic of students disengaging from their education and their futures. 30% of all students in American high schools drop-out, and if you are African-American or Latino that drop-out rate is 50%.” Though there are many reasons why students feel disconnected from school, Mike cites a sheer lack of relevancy as the main reason, as reported by the Gates Foundation Silent Epidemic Report. To counter that, Roadtrip Nation aims to, “help increase the relevancy and real world connectedness of school, empowering students to stay engaged in their education and their futures.” That includes reaching students on their own terms, and putting them behind the wheel.