Victoria Faubion: Outdoor Nation ambassador gets diverse families outdoors

Outdoor Nation Ambassador helps North Texas families get outside for adventures.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Victoria Faubion clearly recalls her first experience in the outdoors. The only child was traveling with her parents from her native El Paso, Texas to Cloudcroft, N.M., where her father was building a cabin.

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“I had to entertain myself, so I spent a lot of time wandering through the forest while my dad and mom were building,” Faubion, 27, said.

And although she enjoyed herself, she wanted to find more ways to enjoy nature. “I wanted to get outside, but I really didn’t know how,” she said. She gained skills and confidence and became an avid kayaker.

Now she’s helping underserved populations do the same through her involvement in Outdoor Nation.

Faubion had worked at the Outdoor School in Juniction, Texas, prior to attending graduate school — she’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental science at the University of North Texas. In 2011, she was invited to the Denver Outdoor Nation Summit.

“The summit reawakened that I liked to be outside,” Faubion said.

Faubion launched a grassroots program with a $2,500 grant she received at the 2012 Austin, Texas Outdoor Nation Summit to get underserved families outdoors — providing them gas cards and gear so they can engage in activities like fly-fishing and kayaking.

Tell us about the program for which you used Outdoor Nation grant money.
It was a partnership between myself and some university and high-school students here in the North Texas Outdoor Family Program, which is part of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. We used the funding to take underserved families on adventures. We sponsored families to attend Texas Outdoor Family workshops, where all equipment they needed was provided to them. The families got to try activities for the first time like fishing, rock climbing, kayaking and geocaching. I wanted to make them comfortable, since many of them have never done something like that. So while on the adventures, we cooked all the meals, provided a goody bag for kids with outdoor toys and gave each family a $50 gift card so they could fill up [their gas tank] after trips.

Why are you at Outdoor Retailer? 
To further my knowledge about what Outdoor Nation is doing. They taught us to be champions of the outdoors and I want to meet the people who make Outdoor Nation happen and learn from them how to go back to my community and encourage people to get outside.

What can the outdoor industry to do attract a more diverse customer base? 
This may sound silly but when you look at ads or the different industry publications — even though they’re doing it more now — I still feel like there aren’t enough people who look Hispanic.Personally, when I look at things and I only see people of a certain color or mostly Caucasian, it makes me wonder, “Oh could I really do that? I look nothing like those people who are going outside.” The majority of us now speak English or are bilingual, but having things written in Spanish would be beneficial. Texas State Parks are wonderful about inclusiveness and diversity, but some of their publications are only available in English.

What are your goals for the future? 
To teach kids in an outdoor setting. That’s lacking in our public schools. A lot of the curriculum is based indoors. I want to take children outdoors — not just for the sake of getting them outside, but to do more standards-based education outside.

My vision is being close to a water source so we have kids kayaking and sampling water to learn about their water source.

What barriers keep people of color from getting outdoors? 
No. 1 was having the money to go places; many think that it is really expensive to go outside.

Also, not knowing about the opportunities almost at their doorstep. One of the Spanish-speaking families was telling me they came from Mexico and knew where their local parks, rivers and lakes were there, but in the U.S. it seemed information was harder to find, especially in Spanish. Other barriers include transportation and the fear of not knowing the activities they were going to do.

What do you want potential Outdoor Nation backers to know? 
People who went to Outdoor Nation have passion for the outdoors, but we don’t have outlets that lead us to the results we want. Outdoor Nation provides those outlets — connections to others who share your passion and the resources to make changes happen with political and government spectrum. Without Outdoor Nation I wouldn’t be doing things I wanted to do. I was doing this, “I’ll do this because it’s safe,” but once I was introduced to Outdoor Nation and all the great people, I know I can do whatever I want. Now I have a clearer vision of where I want my life to go.

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Mind, body, business

Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to ...read more