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Outdoors Empowered Network Champions Equitable Access

Posted by Andrew at Nov 18, 2015 03:35 PM |

The Outdoors Empowered Network is a growing a collective of organizations getting as many kids outdoors as possible. In November, WTA traveled to OEN's second national summit.

WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program helps connect the next generation to the outdoors by supporting schools and community organizations that want to provide youth with outdoor experiences. Through skill-building workshops for trip leaders, a free gear-lending library, mini-grants, and a growing peer-network, we hope to reduce some of the more common barriers—like lack of gear, training, and transportation—to getting kids outside.

And WTA is just one of many programs across the country to use this unique model of empowering trip leaders from local communities. The Outdoors Empowered Network is a growing a collective of organizations who share resources and amplify our impact by getting as many kids outdoors as possible.

OEN National Summit 2015 Attendees

Sharing successes, ideas at the 2015 National Summit

In mid-November, WTA Youth Program staff traveled to the second annual national convening of Outdoors Empowered Network program affiliates. (See an album from the weekend.)

Representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club (Boston and New York), Bay Area Wilderness Training (Oakland), Los Angeles Wilderness Training (LA), Idaho Youth Wilderness Initiative (Boise), Families in Nature (Austin) and the Forest Preserves of Cook County (Chicago) camped out together in the Presidio of San Francisco to connect, share and learn from each other.

The summit organizers also lined up an impressive group of presenters who are leading the national movement to reduce barriers to the outdoors and get more people connected to the natural world:

  • Children & Nature Network - Juan Martinez spoke about the resources, tools and innovative programs of the C&NN, like the Natural Leaders, a program that empowers young adults to take their connection to nature back to their communities through engaging events and activities.
  • Latino Outdoors - Jose Gonzalez discussed the challenges and opportunities of networks, based on his experience working to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education that connect Latino communities and leadership with nature and outdoor experiences.
  • Outdoor Afro - Rue Mapp shared her experience in busting stereotypes with her organization's atmospheric rise from a modest blog to become the nation’s leading network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature.
  • Trailhead Labs - Ryan Branciforte demoed innovative technologies, like their projects OuterSpatial and Transit & Trails, that can help connect people to outdoor opportunities. And he put his theories into practice with a bus, foot, ferry and rail exploration of the Bay Area.
  • Transforming Youth Outdoors - Chris Rutgers showed off the new online community that curates, organizes and maintains an ever-growing collection of tools and resources to help educators and program coordinators deliver best-in-class outdoor programming.
  • The Avarna Group - Ava Holliday & Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin facilitated a workshop that provided insights and resources on equity, inclusion, and diversity for mission-driven organizations in the environmental, outdoor, and educational spaces.

Long story short: some amazing organizations and movement leaders have some big work lined up for the coming year.

Transit and Trails Hike at OEN National Summit 2015