FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Outdoor Foundation
Western Governors and Outdoor Nation Partner to Encourage Kids and Families to Get Outdoors: Create Youth Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Pilot Program
June 11, 2012 (Washington DC) – The Western Governors’ Association and Outdoor Nation announced today the launch of a pilot project to inspire young adults and their families to get outdoors and take advantage of the many great places for outdoor recreation throughout the Western states. Young adults in participating states are selected to serve as the Outdoor Recreation Outreach Coordinator (YOuROCkers). Their purpose is simple: to increasing park visits among peers.
“These young adults - YOuROCkers -- will utilize social media to highlight unique outdoor spaces in their states while encouraging their peers to get outside and active,” said Chris Fanning, Executive Director of The Outdoor Foundation, the organization that created Outdoor Nation.
This joint initiative comes at a time when youth participation in the outdoors has plummeted 15 percent in the past five years and continues to decline among minorities, the fastest growing population segments in the U.S. Thanks to youth outreach programs like Outdoor Nation, Explore Fund, and State Park Youth Ambassador Programs, outdoor participation trends are stabilizing overall, but not among some of the key demographic markets such as African Americans.
“If the West is going to have future outdoor leaders, stewards and champions that support recreation areas and the recreation economy, it is critical that we invest in effective outdoor programs for youth,” said Fanning.
The YOuROCk partnership announcement was made today at the WGA Annual Meeting during a panel discussion whose participants included Todd Spaletto, president of The North Face - a founding partner of Outdoor Nation - as well as a current state park youth ambassador and Gov. Chris Gregoire, WGA Chair.
"The North Face is a unique brand, grounded in outdoor exploration and desired by young adults," Spaletto told the governors. "We feel we have the responsibility and obligation to inspire and activate the next generation of outdoor explorers and conservationists. Our products and programs provide them with tools they need to get outdoors and activate a movement of outdoor exploration on the ground.”
“As the West has become increasingly urbanized, many families have lost the connection to the outdoors that my generation experienced,” said Gregoire. “Sadly most kids today do not know about the state and national parks or the rivers and forests they can visit not that far from their front door.”
Several Western governors have agreed to participate in a pilot project, including Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado who is one of the first governors to host a YOuROCker in his state. “Kids today have more options for their free time than we did growing up. Technology has given them new tools to learn, to connect and to explore,” Hickenlooper said. “But you can’t truly experience a state park or beautiful natural area until you actually go there and get dirty.”
About Outdoor Nation
Outdoor Nation is an initiative of The Outdoor Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Outdoor Nation was founded with initial support from The North Face, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The REI Foundation, The Conservation Fund and the National Park Service. Organizations interested in learning more about Outdoor Nation’s work to empower youth to become champions of the outdoors can get more information on the Web at www.outdoornation.org.