Co-Founder of Roadtrip Nation Takes Students on Cross-Country Trips

Photo credit: John Gilhooley

Mike Marriner is the co-founder of Roadtrip Nation, a Costa Mesa-based career-exploration organization (and PBS series) that takes students on cross-country trips.

How did Roadtrip Nation start?
When I graduated from college, I had no clue what I wanted to do and neither did my friends Nathan Gebhard and Brian McAllister. We decided to drive across the country in a 1985 lime-green RV to ask successful people how they got to where they are today.

Tell us about that trip.
It was in 2001 and took 3½ months. Before leaving, we found cool people we wanted to interview—everyone from the treasurer of JP Morgan Chase to a Maine lobsterman to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

How did it grow into a movement and become a TV series?
When we came back, Forbes magazine wrote an article about our trip, which got the attention of an editor at Random House, so we wrote a book. Then someone we interviewed at Nike gave us the idea that Roadtrip Nation could be a career-exploration movement that empowers students to go on road trips themselves.

What is Roadtrip Nation today?
It’s one part media platform and one part education platform. We partner with 12,000 schools across America, as well as education companies.

You also recently partnered with UC Irvine?
Yes! The UC Irvine road trip was last summer, and it has been an awesome partnership. We had three students interview alumni such as an aerospace engineer, a music producer, and a NASA contracts manager. We hope to do another program with UCI this summer.

Find “Roadtrip Nation” episodes on PBS or go to

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