Outdoor Nation Awards Grants to Millennials Getting Peers Outdoors in the Twin Cities and Beyond

Millennial Leaders gathered in Minneapolis to find creative ways of getting their peers outside and received funding from Outdoor Nation to turn their ideas into action.

Washington, DC - Outdoor Nation, the outdoor movement led by members of the Millennial Generation, awarded funding to young leaders in Minneapolis, part of a nation-wide campaign to combat one of the most crucial issues of our time; the lack of youth and young adult engagement in outdoor recreation. Outdoor Nation hosted a training Summit in Minneapolis that brought together some of the best and brightest outdoor leaders in the Midwestern U.S. The two-day Summit was one of 10 of its kind held across the U.S. this summer and fall.

“We’re thrilled to support Minneapolis area young leaders in their work to engage peers in outdoor recreation,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation, the organization that launched Outdoor Nation. “We are inspired by their ideas and hope the momentum from the Summits will help create a cultural shift in this generation - strengthening their connection to the outdoors and empowering them to lead others.”

Projects that received funding at the Minneapolis Outdoor Nation Summit included:

  • ACORNS (Afterschool Community Outdoor Recreation & Nature Skills) - A project to link University outdoor clubs with existing after-school programs to engage more students in recreation by providing mentorship during new outdoor experiences.
  • R.A.I.N. (Renewing Attitudes in Nature) - This project will allow the students at Washburn School to work with and learn from the already existing rain gardens planted at their school by creating educational programs that utilize these gardens.
  • SEAK and Wilderness Inquiry - This project will fund an overnight camping and canoeing trip along the Mississippi River for students and adults affiliated with the Twin Cities SEAK program and the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure program of Wilderness Inquiry.
  • SEAK Mentor Project - Through this project, SEAK participants will connect with middle school students to offer adventure education that focuses on teaching practical application of outdoor skills early in life.
  • The EXPOsed Project - Through an event in Grand Rapids, Michigan this group will expose elementary students to the outdoors with various organized stations including backpacking, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and nature conservancy.
  • Urban Nature Day - Urban Nature Day project will allow the Conservation Corps to get urban kids excited about nature within their communities through an educational event at a local park that will emphasize close to home recreation.
  • OutMore Nation - A program that makes outdoor recreation activities more accessible to inner-city families by hosting three days of outdoor experiential activities in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago State University.

In addition to funding, participants received training from top experts, covering such topics as community organizing, media relations and fundraising. Outdoor Nation will invest as much as $100,000 in on-the-ground projects that are developed at the Summits. The 2012 Outdoor Nation Summit schedule includes Boston, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The 2012 Outdoor Nation Summits are presented by The North Face, The REI Foundation and The Conservation Fund, and supported by many other notable organizations including Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, America’s State Parks, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Creative Artists Agency, National Park Service, Merrell, CamelBak, Johnson and Johnson, CIGNA, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Circadence, Sierra Club, Natural Leaders Network, National Wildlife Federation, YMCA and more than 100 invested organizations from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

About the Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, action oriented outreach, and education programs, the Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation, a pioneering initiative that aims to empower young leaders to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities across the United States. For more information visit: OutdoorFoundation.org and OutdoorNation.org.

Additional Background
Over the last several decades, American youth have become increasingly alienated from the natural world, contributing to the national crisis in children’s health as well as the considerable decline in environmental literacy. In 2005, Richard Louv published his seminal work, Last Child in the Woods, which highlighted the separation of young people from nature and engaged many stakeholders in a meaningful discussion about ways to address this nature deficit disorder. But these conversations largely overlooked the most important stakeholder group essential to success: young people. To address this major oversight and capitalize on the extraordinary opportunity, The Outdoor Foundation launched Outdoor Nation to empower Millennials to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities.

In June 2010, Outdoor Nation convened the largest and most diverse National Summit on the Outdoors in New York’s Central Park, bringing together 500 young leaders from across the country to set a national agenda, outline top priorities and commit to youth-led actions. In 2011, a movement was on the move. Building on the momentum, Outdoor Nation hosted five Regional Summits — bringing together more than one thousand young people to identify top outdoors issues, brainstorm impactful solutions and ultimately commit to championing change on campuses and in communities. Over the years, Outdoor Nation has invested more than two million dollars into youth-led projects that reconnect a new generation with the outdoors.

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