RELEASE: OAK 2017 Award Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, October 27, 2017

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584, jackie.ostfeld@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

OAK 2017 Award Winners Announced

lawmakers from both of sides of the aisle recognized for leadership

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the recipients of the 2017 “OAK Awards.” A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers including Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and several OAK members received awards during the annual meeting of the Alliance.

The “OAK Awards” are bestowed annually on a bipartisan and bicameral cohort of decision-makers and OAK members for significant contributions in advancing opportunities for children, youth, and families to learn, get active, and serve in the outdoors.

OAK Tree Award Recipients (Decision-Makers):

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“Our national parks and public lands are outdoor classrooms with endless opportunities to learn and make memories,” said Senator Heinrich. “Connecting kids to the outdoors can inspire a lifelong connection to conservation, while reaping all of the health benefits that go along with an active lifestyle. I am grateful for the support and work of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids that helps kids and their families access the rich natural and cultural history on display in our parks, forests, and monuments.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ): recognized for leadership in supporting career pathway programs for youth and veterans in conservation, and advancement of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.

Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“Thank you to OAK for this award but even more so for your members’ dedicated efforts to encourage kids and families to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spaces that play such an important role in our communities,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “Together, we must continue to inspire a new and more diverse generation to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, learn about our country’s natural and historic treasures, and fall in love with our public lands and the outdoors.”

Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21): recognized for leadership in connecting children and youth with our parks and public lands, and advancement of the Every Kid Outdoors Act.

“I thank the Outdoors Alliance for Kids for this award, but also for their tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s children,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Every Kid Outdoors Act will encourage our nation’s children to see our beautiful treasures and monuments, learning about our rich national heritage in the process. This will help cultivate their appreciation for protecting our environment and public lands. As the home of the Adirondacks, in my district we know how critical it is to get our children outdoors exploring our parks, and I am pleased to work in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues on this issue.”

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Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids present Congresswoman Niki Tsongas with the OAK Tree Award.

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Members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids present Congresswoman Elise Stefanik with the OAK Tree Award.

OAK Leaf Award Recipients (OAK Members):

Kyle Stewart, Alliance of New York State YMCAs: recognized for work to pass Assembly Bill 735 into law to develop a long-term strategy to encourage and promote outdoor environmental education and recreational opportunities in New York State.  

Upon receiving the award, Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the Alliance of New York State YMCAs said, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs is honored to receive the OAK Leaf Award and appreciates this recognition for our work to achieve legislation that encourages and promotes outdoor education and recreational opportunities. We are proud to work with such an esteemed alliance that strives for the health and well-being of our kids.”

Casey Andrews, Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative: recognized for work to advance the Every Kid in a Park program across Seattle. The “Collaborative,” supported by OAK members Islandwood, Seattle YMCA, NatureBridge, and Washington Trails Association, along with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Seward Park Audubon, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Steven’s Pass Ski Resort work together to increase engagement in the outdoors for Seattle youth, including through the federal Every Kid in a Park program which provides 4th graders and their families with encouragement and a free access pass to national parks and public lands.

Upon receiving the award, Casey Andrews of the Seattle EKIP Collaborative said, “It is an honor to receive the Leaf Award on behalf of the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative. The Seattle EKIP Collaborative is working together to decrease barriers and increase engagement for Seattle youth with multiple outdoor engagement opportunities, including the 4th grader federal lands pass. We do this to connect youth with their community parks and federal lands to foster the next generation of environmental stewards. I would like to thank OAK for their continued work to engage youth and families across the country. It is a privilege to be a member of such a committed and accomplished alliance.”

Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society: recognized for his leadership in advancing OAK’s advocacy efforts and building strong federal partnerships for the Alliance in service of getting more kids outdoors on federal lands and waters.

Upon receiving the award, Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy at The Wilderness Society, and OAK Vice Chair said, “The Wilderness Society is honored to be recognized by the members of OAK for our contributions to the work of the Alliance. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with so many visionary leaders in building a movement to get more kids outside.”

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From left to right: Kyle Stewart, Alliance of New York State YMCAs; Casey Andrews, Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative; and Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society: OAK Leaf Award Recipients 2017.

The awards were announced during OAK Week, the annual meeting of the alliance. The OAK Awards program was established in 2016.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.