The SHIFT Awards recognize the most innovative, impactful and replicable work leveraging outdoor rec for conservation gains currently underway in America. This session provides dynamic interaction between Summit participants and representatives of official selections for the 2016 SHIFT Awards.
To see the criteria used to select the finalists, click here.
2016 SHIFT AWARD OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
NON-PROFIT LEADERSHIP: This award recognizes individuals, an initiative, or an organization that makes innovative, impactful and replicable contributions to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation.
American Rivers’ Blue Trails Program
Representative: Michael Fiebig, Associate Director for the Northern Rockies
Synopsis: American Rivers launched its Blue Trails program in 2007 to help remedy the challenge of connecting people to rivers, inspire communities to view their rivers as a resource and take action to protect and restore them.
A Blue Trail is a waterway adopted by a local community that is dedicated to improving family-friendly recreation such as fishing, boating, and wildlife watching, and conserving land and water resources.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Synopsis: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers seeks to ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters. They inform and mobilize sportsmen to advocate on behalf of public lands. Sportsmen have historically been leaders in conservation and environmental issues. BHA has been able to successfully reinvigorate their community’s activism on behalf of U.S. public lands and waters – which in many ways have never been more vulnerable – and promote public opportunities to access and recreate on them.
Cody Wild West River Fest
Representative: Katherine Thompson, Northwest Wyoming Program Director for the Nature Conservancy
From their application: “The 2016 Cody Wild West River Fest will be the 4th annual. Every year, the committee has undertaken parallel projects to improve river conservation and/or recreation in the region. In 2013, we improved Cody’s primary river access, in 2014 we hosted a youth river clean-up event and began eradicating invasive Russian olive from riparian areas, and in 2015 we created a separate nonprofit, the Wild West Paddle Club, to promote whitewater paddling to youth. In 2016, we are working on a project aimed at creating a destination natural area on Cody’s river front that will involve significant river restoration work.”
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s Sustainable Trails Program
Synopsis: Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s Sustainable Trails Program is a multi-year effort designed to better understand, prioritize and manage the conservation resources, stewardship needs, recreational opportunities and trailhead economic impacts facing Colorado’s much-loved 14,000-foot peaks—the “Fourteeners”. Over the past quarter century CFI has worked with six National Forests, 17 individual USFS Ranger Districts, one Bureau of Land Management field office and numerous private landowners to plan, build and maintain a network of complex summit trails on 53+ high peaks that traverse the largest fragile alpine tundra ecosystem in the lower 48 states. This data-intensive project seeks to better understand changing on-the-ground resource conditions, quantify and prioritize the need for future trail stewardship work and document recreational use trends so that land managers, 14er hikers and local communities can join together to protect these special peaks without unduly affecting recreational opportunities.
Conservation Colorado’s Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance
Representative: Gabe Kiritz, Public Lands Business Organizer
Synopsis: Conservation Colorado has recently launched the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance (COBA) with the mission to leverage diverse economic voices to protect access and enhance Colorado’s public lands in support of a durable outdoor industry. COBA represents a coalition of Colorado’s leading outdoor recreation businesses that recognize the fundamental role public lands play in sustaining the durable outdoor industry. Businesses have played pivotal roles in propelling recent conservation campaigns to success in Colorado and throughout the West. They represent an increasingly critical component of recent conservation wins, such as the permanent protection of Browns Canyon National Monument. COBA capitalizes on these successes, linking outdoor business leaders with Conservation Colorado’s organizational expertise to build innovative, sophisticated, stakeholder-driven conservation campaigns.
Representative: Jane Pagiter, Vice President
Synopsis: EcoFlight educates and advocates for the protection of remaining wild lands and wildlife habitat through the use of small aircraft. The aerial perspective and their educational programs encourage an environmental stewardship ethic among citizens of all ages.
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Representative: Paul Danicic, Executive Director
Synopsis: Friends of the Boundary Waters have partnered with the outdoor outfitter/guide businesses in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness as well as the US Forest Service to conduct an economic contribution analysis of the BWCA wilderness. The analysis will be a model for wilderness areas across the country, leveraging outfitting businesses, wilderness groups, guide services, and outdoors people to analyze impact and potential for the region. The information from this analysis would be used by planners, elected officials, and land managers.
Leave No Trace’s Hot Spots
Representative: Jason Grubb, Programs Coordinator
Synopsis: As part of the Center’s Leave No Trace in Every Park initiative, “Hot Spots” aim to help land managers and other stakeholders take action within their communities to educate the recreating public about their impacts and how to best minimize those impacts.
By the end of 2016, Leave No Trace will have facilitated over 40 Hot Spots across the country. From national parks to city parks, from national forests to state forest, from conservation lands trusts to national monuments, Leave No Trace has been able to provide these week long efforts across the country and across the nation’s public lands spectrum.
Montana Wilderness Association’s Quiet Trails Program
Representative: Kayje Booker, Public Lands Program Manager
Synopsis: The Montana Wilderness Association’s Quiet Trails Program unifies non-motorized recreationists through a combination of on-the-ground stewardship, which builds improved trail systems and improved relationships between disparate user groups, and on-the-books administrative protections, which results in connected, protected habitat for wildlife like grizzly bears, lynx, mountain goats, and wolverines.
The Quiet Trails Program includes leadership in Montana High Divide Trails, stewardship of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and a new online hiking guide, all of which strengthen relationships between non-motorized users, build the movement in support of public lands, and influence Forest Service travel planning decisions.
Mountains to Sound Greenway’s Middle Fork Snoqualmie Initiative
Representative: Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director
Synopsis: The Middle Fork Snoqualmie Initiative is a coalition-based campaign aimed at ensuring recreational access and ecological stewardship of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley through public-private partnerships. The Middle Fork is an undeveloped, 99% publicly owned, montane watershed just 40 miles from Seattle and the region’s 3.6 million residents. It offers a vast array of outdoor recreation opportunities for users of diverse interests and all abilities — hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, whitewater paddling, bird-watching, picnicking, swimming, camping, backpacking, and climbing the nation’s longest sport-climbing route. All of these activities are set against the backdrop of a designated Wild and Scenic River, and gateway to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness – the closest proximity of a Wilderness area to any of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. The initiative seeks to leverage these extraordinary outdoor recreation opportunities for conservation gains by building and maintaining comprehensive recreational infrastructure that provides safe, sustainable access for people, and engages communities, businesses, and individuals in helping to steward the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Middle Fork.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Hunting is Conservation
Representative: Leah Burgess, Lands Program Manager
Synopsis: Hunting is Conservation addresses the dwindling resources that public land agencies have to manage habitat, and highlights the role that sportsman play in helping fund management activities both through license purchases, and also through contributions to wildlife non-profits like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) who heavily support agency management activities. With the access program they strive to address the issue of the public not having access to large tracts of public lands. The challenge, to them, lies in helping facilitate solutions between agencies and private landowners who may have lands or roads that provide public access in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Tahoe Fund’s Take Care
Synopsis: The mission of the Tahoe Fund is to improve the extraordinary natural environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin by building broad support and funding for projects and programs that restore and enhance the Lake for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
The result of the effort is Take Care, a campaign designed to motivate residents and visitors in the Tahoe Region to reduce their impact on the natural environment by uniting the multitude of agencies, groups and organizations into a unified voice on what individuals can do to help protect the local environment.
Wild and Scenic Film Festival
Representative: Melinda Booth, Festival Director
Synopsis: The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in Nevada City unites the community to protect and restore the Yuba River watershed. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, a program of SYRCL, uses film to inspire activism and unite communities to protect and heal the earth.
Wyoming Outdoor Council’s Run the Red Desert
Representative: Julia Stuble, Public Lands Advocate
Synopsis: The Red Desert contains countless opportunities for enjoying wild spaces, including significant Wilderness Study Areas and other wilderness quality lands. In 2014 the inaugural race was run in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the 30th anniversary of the Wyoming Wilderness Act. This race continues to celebrate those achievements and our wild Wyoming places.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Wyoming Wilderness Association, the National Outdoor Leadership School and other partners and sponsors invite runners and their families to experience this unique landscape while running the race, hiking near to the course, viewing the Boar’s Tusk, enjoying interpretations of the petroglyphs and more.
Representative: Nick Watson, Executive Director & Co-Founder
Synopsis: Veterans Expeditions seeks to empower veterans to overcome challenges associated with military service through outdoor training and leadership.
From their application: “We run service learning trips, conservation trips, etc., that get our vets out in service of the land they defended. An example of these trips is our ‘Bio Blitz’ trip series we run in support of the new Browns Canyon National Monument out of our home office in Salida, Colorado. These trips are citizen science type trips where our vets provide the labor for mapping projects, wildlife observation and recording, social trail and impact data, cultural history documentation, etc. These are very innovative partnerships with the BLM, USFS, State Parks, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Office, and many more. Our vets are playing a key role in identifying the resources of this brand new National Monument.”
BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: This award recognizes an outdoor company, be it retail, guide service, or other business, that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains.
Representative: Trevor Cobb, Co-Founder
Synopsis: Bramble Outdoor addresses three challenges in their work: First, they leverage outdoor products and content to engage the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts with conservation efforts in meaningful ways. Second, they help conservation non-profits bridge the gap from back-end policy work, and consumer-facing content and inspiration. Their goal is to help these organizations become more relevant with the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts through content marketing campaigns designed for a multi-platform audience and the digital age. Finally, their model allows these partner organizations to act as retailers without the inventory risk. This allows them to bring in a diversified revenue stream while engaging members with functional physical products.
First Lite’s “Round Up for Conservation” Program
Representative: Ryan Callaghan, Director of Public Relations
Synopsis: First Lite launched a program last year called ‘Round Up for Conservation’ that allows their customers to donate to one to four conservation non-profits per purchase. With the international success of First Lite, The Round Up campaign has been a major success in raising awareness in the hunting manufacturer space, and addresses their belief that every rec dollar should be tied to a conservation dollar.
PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT INNOVATION: This award recognizes progressive land-management work taking place at local, state, or federal levels.
Meryl Harrell, Sr. Advisor, United States Department of Agriculture; Leslie Weldon, Deputy to Chief of United States Forest Service; Joe Meade, Director of Recreation, United States Forest Service; and Chris Moyer, Special Recreation Permit Project Lead
Representative: Meryl Harrell, Sr. Advisor, United States Department of Agriculture
Synopsis: According to the Outdoor Access Working Group, which nominated them, this group has been driving a transformation within the recreation special-use permitting process at the United States Forest Service that includes reinterpreting current policy to open up use for youth in the outdoors; re-evaluate National Environmental Protection Act and Social Analyses that limit access to facilitated, diverse groups; and pilot projects in several regions to grow access to Forest Service underutilized lands. In addition, the team is leading a transparency project in partnership with other agencies to create an interagency web platform.
TECHNOLOGY: New for 2016, the Technology Award recognizes an app, website, or other technology that promotes responsible recreation, access, or conservation leadership.
TOTAGO (Turn Off The App, Go Outside)
Representative: Andy Laurenzi, Co-Founder
Synopsis: The mission at TOTAGO is to inspire value and appreciation of the outdoors by facilitating access to parks, wilderness, and open space worldwide. TOTAGO leverages data and technology to enable and promote usage of public transportation for accessing parks and open space. They believe increasing access to the outdoors, especially for low-income populations in urban areas, is essential to creating awareness and ultimately ensuring sustainable conservation of parks and open space.
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado’s YourCO
Synopsis: Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado’s (VOC) mission is to motivate and enable people to become active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. VOC has, for over three decades, been at the forefront of effectively engaging Colorado’s public in caring for our state’s recreational amenities such as trails, parks and open spaces through large scale organized volunteer stewardship projects. Increasingly, however, they have been facing a much busier and less engaged public.
In 2015, VOC launched an innovative and first of its kind mobile App, YourCO, designed to make stewardship just as easy to do as it is to text a friend. The YourCO app offers folks of all ages and abilities simple stewardship suggestions that qualify for fun digital badges and outdoor recreational product prizes. Designed to appeal to families and younger outdoor enthusiasts, YourCO app users can upload images and share their experiences, eventually progressing through more and more activities, including VOC public projects, into community-based stewardship efforts on public recreational sites. As far as they know, VOC is the first stewardship organization in the nation to have a mobile App designed to get people caring for the outdoors.
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: New for 2016, this award recognizes individuals, an initiative, or an organization that make innovative, impactful, and replicable contributions to the conservation/recreation world by engaging young people.
City Kids Wilderness Project
Representative: Eloise Russo, Executive Director
Synopsis: Since 1996, City Kids Wilderness Project has been serving under-resourced youth from DC’s most vulnerable communities. City Kids currently operates school year and summer programs for 130 under-resourced DC youth, enrolling new youth in the sixth grade and providing program support through middle school and high school.
Their programs exist to position participants for success in adulthood by getting them off to the right start as youth. Their goals include that youth graduate from high school or earn their GED, that they enroll in a postsecondary education program or obtain a job, and that they are involved and connected members of their community.
City Kids achieves this by enrolling 20 new 6th graders every year and shepherding them through a six year (or longer) process to realize their individual potential, and to set and begin to implement individualized future goals. During the school year they are based in Washington, DC, and provide afterschool and weekend outdoor adventure programming as well as job training and college preparation programming. In the summer they move to Jackson, WY, where they run three sessions of outdoor adventure summer camp, as well as career exploration and job training programming for their older youth.
Synopsis: Uplift is the only youth driven organization working to unite various efforts to address climate change across the Colorado Plateau. Recognizing that the outdoor recreation community is a critical component in the climate justice effort, they reach out to the recreation community in the region and hold talks and workshops at their annual conference that specifically address outdoor rec. At the 2015 Uplift Conference, organizers led a workshop that addressed how young people can combine their passion for outdoor recreation with environmental advocacy. Uplift 2016 plans to have a panel on diversity in outdoor recreation and how diversity is critical for sustainable conservation gains.
ADVENTURE ATHLETE: This award recognizes an adventure athlete who is also serving as an ambassador for responsible recreation, access, or conservation leadership.
Caroline Gleich is a professional ski mountaineer out of Salt Lake City, Utah, who is an ambassador for the Winter Wildlands Alliance. Caroline has recently appeared in the film Chasing Shadows, along with profiles in Powder, Backcountry, and Freeskier magazines, among others. From her nomination, Caroline writes, “I strive to use my platform as an athlete to inspire people to live a healthy, active lifestyle and to become informed, active citizens. I want to delve beyond the superficial and engage people on issues of human rights and environmental responsibility. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not always a linear course. My work leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains by leading conversations about issues on social media and asking people to act, by going to schools to talk to thousands of students about climate change, by working with companies who care about environmental responsibility and by showing up to important legislative hearings, protests and rallies.”
Synopsis: KT Miller is a professional skier featured in the documentary Shifting Ice + Changing Tides, an all-female skiing and sailing expedition from Iceland to Greenland to highlight the effects of climate change. As a professional athlete for Dynafit, LowePro, and Winter Wildlands Alliance KT specializes in human powered adventure. Each fall KT spends a few months working in the Arctic with Polar Bears International as a media specialist, troubleshooting wireless internet on the tundra, photographing polar bears, and hosting the worlds leading polar bear and climate scientists for large digital outreach initiatives. From her application: “My passion as a professional athlete and social media influencer is to inform and inspire action on conservation issues, mainly climate change, but also local Greater Yellowstone conservation issues regarding land use, wildlife, and natural resources. I try to provide captivating information and images that inspire education and action on these conservation issues.”
YOUTH LEADERSHIP: This award recognizes an individual under 30 who is promoting recreation for conservation gains.
Synopsis: Alfonso Orozco is the Wyoming Regional Coordinator for Latino Outdoors. The mission of Latino Outdoors is to bring cultura into the outdoor narrative and connect Latino communities and leadership with nature and outdoor experiences. Alfonso is also a member of the inaugural ‘Outdoor 30 Under 30’, created to recognize influencers in the outdoor world under 30 years old. From his application, “That is when i joined Latino Outdoors, to be able to share my experience, story, and voice with other Latino communities to embolden and empower them to get outdoors. Creating opportunities positive experiences builds a foundation. From that foundation I can add naturalist place based knowledge, education on environmental ethic, and develop skills for participants to stay engaged as stewards of the land. In this way we not only increase the quality of life of the individual but also increase the number of people who are caring for the environment with a diversity of voices.”
Anthony “Chako” Ciocco
Tse Alka Be Akiid, Navajo Nation
Synopsis: Anthony “Chako” Ciocco leads the Ancestral Lands program on the Navajo Nation under Conservation Legacy’s Southwest Conservation Corps. The Ancestral Lands Program works to redefine conservation corps program models to meet the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities. Anthony has worked to secure funding through the North Face Explore Fund, as well as a partnership with the Access Fund to engage Native communities in both outdoor recreation and stewardship projects. From his application: “It is often times challenging to bring together very, very, diverse groups to complete our recreation and conservation project work. Ancestral Lands works with the core of our traditional Native communities, which is far outside the norm of the common conservation community and culture. It takes extra work to bridge cultural barriers, deal with socio-economic differences, and reach common visions.”
Synopsis: Elizabeth Case and Rachel Woods Robinson founded Cycle for Science to bring science outreach to underserved communities by bicycle. From April to July 2015, they rode their bicycles 3500 miles from San Francisco to New York City, stopping in 10 different schools and camps across America, reaching 1,000 students ages 4-17. The Cycle for Science lesson is currently being integrated into the Lending Library at Cornell’s xRaise, an NSF-funded science outreach program. From their application: “We chose to focus specifically on a solar energy to encourage students to think about where their energy comes from, what it costs, and how they could change their habits to reduce their energy consumption. We also wanted them to start to see their role in the future of our planet: we need more policy makers, more scientists, and more advocates pushing renewable energy forward. As women in science, we also hoped to serve as role models and share the reasons science fascinates us — it’s impactful, creative and relevant.”
Michelle is the Seattle Regional Coordinator for Latino Outdoors. The mission of Latino Outdoors is to bring cultura into the outdoor narrative and connect Latino communities and leadership with nature and outdoor experiences. Michelle leads monthly events as a volunteer, including kayaking, snowshoeing, sailing, indoor rock climbing, and hiking. Like Alfonso, Michelle is also a member of the inaugural ‘Outdoor 30 Under 30’, created to recognize influencers in the outdoor world under 30 years old.From her nomination, Graciela Cabello, National Director of Latino Outdoors writes, “Michelle leads outdoor recreation events in the Pacific Northwest that provide outdoor experiences and connections to nature that otherwise may not have been possible. Many visit parks or forests for the first time. These positive experiences can be transformational in building the next generation of stewards and conservationists. They create new advocates.”