2011 Outdoor Nation Activation Grant Projects

The Outdoor Foundation is pleased to present 20 projects to be funded through the 2011 Outdoor Nation Activation award program made possible by the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. In support of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, these youth-led project proposals have been developed by young leaders who are passionate about the outdoors and who want to connect other young people to natural spaces. All of the winning projects include elements of the National Park Service – connecting America’s youth and communities to our nation’s great outdoors.


Tara Arthur & Matthew Browning, VA
Age - 27, 28 (respectively)

American youth have become disconnected with the natural world. The Appalachian Trail Expedition for Millennial Stars (ATEMS) project will reverse this trend by offering a 10 month thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) to diverse groups of youth. The ATEMS goal is to engage and network diverse groups of young Americans by thru-hiking the AT in rotating weekly teams. In addition, the proposed planning workshop will bring together 8 young people, aged 18-35, to complete a 4 day AT hike near Shepherdstown, WV.

Georgi Doepper, NY
Age - 22

This project will introduce young people to the outdoors through a historical perspective utilizing Satratoga National Monument in Schuylervlle, NY. Participants will learn map & compass skills, wilderness first aid, basic camping skills, and knowledge of local flora & fauna while interacting with nature. The project will include a weekend map & compass training, a tour of either fisheries or forestry businesses, two to three overnight camping trips (one summer,one fall,and one winter).

Sierra Gladfelter, PA
Age - 21

River Acts and Impacts is a course that will expose students at Temple University to the importance of protecting rivers through a semester-long examination of the Schuylkill Watershed. A series of weekend canoe trips will allow students to engage in collaborative work assessing a watershed issue, and documenting its impact as they paddle the river's length. NPS Resource Specialists and local non-profit groups will join students on the river and offer lectures in context. Temple University has agreed to match any aquired outside funding.

Craig Larcenaire,WV
Age - 25

This project will help veterans attending the University of West Virginia start a kayaking club that will meet regularly throughout the school year. Funds will go towards equipment needed for the program to get started such as acquiring used boats, life jackets, paddles and helmets. Veterans will be able to develop relationships, use the outdoors as outlet to relieve stress and emotions, as well as be introduced to surrounding waterways and bodies of water. This project is being submitted by a Veteran who knows the struggles of returning to life after serving in the military and also knows how life changing and much needed the experience of kayaking on West Virginia’s rivers can be for this special populations of Americans.

Jessica Snyder, PA
Age - 24

The Women on the Water program will provide 45 female high school students from Philadelphia and NYC the opportunity to explore the Delaware River from upstate NY to Philadelphia. This award will allow these girls to paddle and sleep on the river, volunteer in the Park and serve as mentors and interns at Pocono Environmental Education Center. Through participating in this program, the female high school students will develop a relationship with this important natural resources and recognize the the recreational opportunities the river can provide.


Emily Ellis, DC
Age - 23

This project will introduce 7th grade science students to the outdoors by creating a school community garden and taking field trips to local National Parks. While learning about plant life and human biology/nutrition, students will be given information about gardening in the fall/winter to prepare for constructing their own school garden in the spring. This project will foster teamwork and collaboration which are essential life skills needed by these young participants.

Hannah Madej, MD
Age - 25

The goal of this project is to introduce DC high school students to the great outdoor opportunities found in the DC area. In partnership with the National Park Service at Fort Dupont and Thurgood Marshall High School, a high school mt. biking club will be formed that utilizes the Fort Dupont for exercise and learning experiences.This project directly stems from an AGO roll-out event and it is important to show the youth who participated that they were not given a one-time opportunity.


James King, GA
Age - 25

This proposed project will address barriers such as transportation, equipment, and meals in participation by youth and young people of color on hikes and outings. The funds will assist in creating opportunities for young people in the Atlanta metro area to experience the outdoors in new ways, including backpacking, camping, snorkeling, fishing, and canoeing. Young people will take excursions to Cumberland Island National Seashore and Little River Canyon National Preserve.

Valerie Kleinschmidt, AL and MS
Age - 24

The Gulf Coast Heritage Junior Trails Partnership seeks to engage young people throughout the Gulf region in active outdoor recreation while inspiring them to become stewards of their natural surroundings. Working in a collaborative effort, GCHJTP will be the avenue for young people to advocate for both land based and water based trails. GCHTP intends to bring young people together for a retreat to outline a framework for a youth trails partnership. Outdoor Nation Delegates will work with the GCHTP Board of Directors & various youth organizations to create next steps to ensure a sustainable, influential Junior Trails Partnership by drafting a vision, mission, goals & action items.

Jessa Madosky, GA
Age - 28

This Thomas University project will restore an eight acre natural area that is currently underutilized, eroding, and full of invasive species with students from undergraduate courses. Plant species will be identified, invasives removed, and native plants planted to restore the area and reduce erosion. Students will also work with a local non-profit to restore local waterways. The project will allow local natural areas to be used as a laboratory to teach students about conservation issues and to engage them in natural area restoration.

Meagan Mullens, FL
Age - 24

The primary focus of Project Fusion is to provide youth with a positive first- time experience outdoors. By engaging youth through a wide-array of outdoor activities specific to their region, youth will begin to infuse the outdoors into their daily lives. The project will begin in 3 phases: community outreach, outdoor excursions, & education. In early 2012, Project Fusion will host its kick-off outdoor excursion followed by monthly themed outdoor excursions to state & national parks.


Jessica Brenner, IL
Age - 24

Camp Winnebago project will enable Rockford, IL youth to connect, grow and feel empowered in nature. The project, Camper vs. Wild, will consist of learning outdoor survival skills as well as an overnight camping trip to a National Park where learned skills can be put to use. Activities will include fire building, fire cooking, shelter building and more. For many of the participants, this will be their first exposure to a National Park and will hopefully be an eye opening and life changing experience.

Steven Moericke, MN
Age - 25

Project Get Outdoors (GO) requests $2500 to cover expenses for field trips for children in southeastern Minnesota. Funds will be used to transport children from disadvantaged backgrounds to local sites supported or assisted by the National Park Service for the purpose of connecting children to the outdoors in regional parks and other natural spaces. In total, approximately 190 youth and young adults will be impacted by this program. Several sites in the region have been identified as being able to offer interaction with natural environments, outdoor recreation, and exposure to Minnesota's cultural and historical heritage. These outdoor experiences are critical to the mental, emotional, and physical health of children, especially the population being served by this project.

Bret Muter, MI
Age - 27

This project aims to empower Michigan based Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers in Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo Counties to connect their youth to nature through photography. The project will consist of a two-day workshop for 12 Bigs to learn the basics of photography and to develop skills and knowledge needed to plan outings to national parks and and other public lands. The two day workshop will then be followed up by a weekend excursion for the Bigs and their Littles to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where the group will participate in nature photography, canoeing, camping and hiking.


Colin Wait, President of Society for Conservation Biology at CSU, CO
Age - members age 18-25

The CSU chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology hopes to strengthen its program and outreach throughout the school year -- including a second annual Yellowstone National Park Field trip. The club engages students in a variety of outdoor issues and organizes a four-day trip that encompasses both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park and provides unprecedented exposure to a range of outdoor activities as well as endangered species. The students will observe the behavior of large mammals in the field and make plaster molds of footprints left behind from these endangered species. This experience is sure to be invaluable for the growth of the CSU chapter and serve to inform other chapters across the country.

Whitney Gaskill, CO
Age - 24

Funding is being requested to support a school wide service learning initiative that will empower under served rural youth to become contributors to a town-wide river trail in Silverton, CO. Students will tackle all aspects of trail development to achieve steps in a revitalization effort that will ensure outdoor engagement for a small, impoverished community. Students will improve their environment and access to it while developing a culture around outdoor activities for the community. This project is also working with a National Park Service planning grant which includes 1) Restoring a wetland, 2) Constructing new trail, 3) Designing interpretive signs, and 4) Creating brochures for visiting kids on fun trails activities.


Tuesday Loerbs, CA
Age - 19

Inspired by high school teachers and park rangers from John Muir National Historic Site, this project includes the creation of a large scale mural about John Muir, his family and his impact on the world. Working with a professional artist, High school students will research, design and paint the mural near the John Muir National Historic Site while working with NPS Rangers to gain community support through a student facilitated community review process. Volunteering students will go on field trips with park rangers to gather inspiration and will attend research/design sessions.

Gabi Maheras, NV
Age - 20

The CITO (cache in, trash out) Kids project will provide urban youth in the City of Las Vegas an opportunity to be immersed in the natural environment while participating in a stewardship activity. The CITO project enhances the youth engagement efforts of multiple Clark County, Nevada partners. CITO geocaching involves using a GPS to go to a given area and clean up litter/dumping. This program will provide stewardship opportunities to urban youth and give them the chance to explore some of the 4 million acres of federal land surrounding the Las Vegas area.

Enrique Siliezar, CA
Age - 25

The Cerritos College Wilderness Club reconnects urban youth to local national forests and recreation areas to improve their quality of life. This award will provide transportation, training and supplies to explore local public lands and empower students to advocate for more open space, especially in park-poor, under-served communities. This project will allow the many students at Cerritos College to experience hiking and camping within one hour of Los Angeles County and create awareness and better wilderness protection among college aged Hispanic populations.


Kanaan Bausler, AK
Age - 23

The goal of this project is to produce a short film with a group of elementary age students involved in an after school outdoor education program. The film will focus on their perception of the natural world as they learn hands on about their backyard. NPS curriculum, Our Wild Neighbors, will provide an educational base along with curiosity and questions. This project will make the outdoors relevant to young people in a creative way by mixing technology with outdoor education.

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