OAK AWARDS are bestowed annually on OAK members and decision-makers for significant contributions toward advancing opportunities for children, youth, and families to connect with nature. The OAK Awards program was established in 2016.

Note: OAK did not host a 2020 awards ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

OAK 2023 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2023 OAK Award Winners!

OAK Acorn Award (Youth Leaders): 

  • Nazma Begum, a Hamtramck High School student, who started the Hamtramck High School Adventure Club and was a teacher/leader in Hamtramck’s Recreation Department’s Summer Playground Program.
  • Saanvi Mylavarapu, National Park Trust Youth Ambassador, for her work founding an environmental and ecology club at her school and runs ‘Nature Worthy,’ a nonprofit organization.

OAK Leaf Award (OAK members):

  • Ambreen Tariq, founder of Brown People Camping, a social media platform promoting diversity, equity and access in the outdoors through storytelling.

OAK Tree Awards (Decision-Makers):

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, for her Nature Awaits program
  • Sen. Cory Booker, for his work on the Transit to Trails Act
  • Rep. Jimmy Gomez, for his work on the Transit to Trails Act
  • Sen. Alex Padilla, for his work on the Outdoors for All Act
  • Sen. Susan Collins, for her work on the Outdoors for All Act
  • New Mexico State Sen. Steven Neville, for his work on the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund
  • New Mexico State Sen. Peter Wirth, for his work on the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund
  • New Mexico State Rep. Nathan Small, for his work on the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund

The Canopy Awards recognize lifetime achievement for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in multi-sector collaboration to get kids outdoors. The very first Canopy awardee is:

  • Bob Ratcliffe, for his work in the recreation community and collaborative work with OAK, first as a leader at the Bureau of Land Management, and more recently during more than a decade of service as Chief of Recreation at the National Park Service.

OAK 2019 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2019 OAK Award winners!

Congressman Steve Stivers and Tigran Nahabedian hold their OAK Awards during the 2019 OAK Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

OAK Tree Awards (Decision-Makers)

  • Senator Richard Burr (R-NC):
    Sen. Burr was the Republican lead on the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included several key legislative items, such as the Every Kid Outdoors Act, that will encourage generations of kids to develop a lifelong love for our national parks and public lands.
  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR):
    Senator Wyden is a leader in encouraging kids to develop a lifelong love for our national parks and public lands as well as a strong supporter of various National Park Service youth programs.
  • Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44):
    Congresswoman Barragán was a sponsor of the Outdoors for All Act of 2019, which would ensure that generations of youth, no matter their background, have equitable access to high-quality parks and recreational facilities.
  • Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH-15):
    Congressman Stivers sponsored the Transit to Trails Act of 2019, which, if passed, will ensure that generations of youth have equitable access to parks, green spaces, and public lands and waters.
  • Superintendent Nita Settina, Maryland Park Service:
    Superintendent Settina has lead the Maryland Park Service as a national standout in connecting children to nature, including by accepting the federal Every Kid Outdoors pass in the Maryland state park system.
  • Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, New York State Parks:
    Commissioner Kulleseid has lead the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as a national standout in connecting children to nature, including by accepting the federal Every Kid Outdoors pass in the New York state park system.

OAK Leaf Award (OAK members):

  • Susan Yoder – Executive Director, Seed Your Future:
    Susan has established an impressive legacy of leadership in advancing youth outdoor access and environmental education fields, including through her tireless leadership with OAK’s All Kids Outdoors Scholastic essay contest. This contest, its results, and its forthcoming potential for advocacy on OAK’s campaigns would not have been possible without Susan’s dedication and support.

OAK Acorn Award (Youth Leaders): 

  • Tigran Nahabedian (Bison Student Ambassador, Junior Ranger at Channel Island National Parks, Youth Director of the Channel Islands Park Foundation, and National Park Geek Ambassador):
    Tigran does tremendous work to connect kids and families with the outdoors and elevate the importance of protecting our public lands, including through participation and leadership in several youth park steward programs and by educating the public about the Every Kid Outdoors program.

OAK 2018 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2018 OAK Award winners!

OAK Tree Award Recipients (Decision-Makers):
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN):  Sen. Alexander was the Republican lead on the Every Kid Outdoors Act, and co-sponsored the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act and the Kids to a Parks Day resolution. Sen. Alexander has also been a consistent champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI): Sen. Hirono has been a consistent and vocal advocate for connecting youth to the outdoors by co-sponsoring the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act and showing leadership during hearings related to National Park Service youth programs, and has been a key ally in pushing back on Park Service fee hikes.

2018 award winners

Representative Mike Turner (R-OH): Representative Turner was was the lead Republican and original co-sponsor of H.R. 2943, the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act. He has been an early and consistent supporter of Land and Water Conservation Fund and a co-sponsor of H.R. 502, which would permanently authorize the Fund. Representative Turner also co-sponsored H.R. 2584 to establish the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund.

Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ): Representative Grijalva is a champion of public lands, diversity in the outdoors, and environmental stewardship. He is the lead sponsor on H.R. 502 to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and was a co-sponsor of both the Every Kid Outdoors Act and the bill to establish the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

Grijalva 2018 OAK Award

OAK Leaf Award Recipients (OAK Members):
Blue Star Families: Blue Star Families played an instrumental role in 2018 to help to raise the visibility of the Every Kid in a Park program with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. In partnership with the National Park Trust, Blue Star Families helped get more military kids outdoors and during a meeting with Zinke, shared over one thousand postcards from kids across the U.S. to demonstrate the widespread support for the Every Kid in a Park program.

Detroit Outdoors: The Detroit Outdoors project is making the dream of camping within the city limits of Detroit a reality for local youth. Under the leadership of Garrett Dempsey, a new coalition has emerged, including the City of Detroit, Detroit Parks and Recreation, Sierra Club, YMCA, REI, the Outdoors Empowered Network, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Kresge Foundation. Through this collaboration a long defunct group camping area, Scout Hollow, has been reopened, bringing life to the Rouge City Park and creating the first ever environmental education position in the City of Detroit.

OAK Acorn Award, a new category recognizing exemplary youth leadership in the field to connect young people with our parks and public lands
Robbie Bond: Robbie received an Every Kid in a Park pass when he was 9 years old and has been on a mission to visit and protect parks and monuments across the U.S. ever since. As the founder of Kids Speak for Parks, Robbie has been a vocal advocate for the Every Kid in a Park program, sharing his experiences and the importance of parks to kids like him on social media channels followed by thousands.

Joseph Goldstein: Joseph is at the forefront of youth-led conservation advocacy. A consummate advocate, speaker, and organizer, he is a champion for preserving the Boundary Waters. When he had leukemia, after careful consideration, his Make-A-Wish ask was to save the Boundary Water. When Make a Wish was unable to help, Joseph turned his wish into a mission, traveling to Washington, D.C., repeatedly throughout three and half years of chemotherapy to advocate on behalf of America’s largest and most visited water wilderness. After completing treatment this February, he founded a nonprofit called Kids for the Boundary Waters to inspire a generation of young wilderness advocates who are educated about and involved in the fight to defend the pristine waters, forest and wildlife of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness against sulfide-ore copper mines proposed within its watershed.

OAK 2017 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2017 OAK Award Winners

The 2017 “OAK Tree Awards” were bestowed on 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).

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

“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.”

From left to right: Brenna Muller, Jackie Ostfeld, Mel Mac Innis (Sierra Club); Representative Niki Tsongas; Hannah Malvin (The Wilderness Society); and David Molzan (Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge)

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

“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.”

From left to right: Brenna Muller, Sierra Club; Taimur Ahmad, The Wilderness Society; Kristy Anderson, American Heart Association; Josh Tuohy, The Corps Network; Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society; Representative Elise Stefanik; Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club; Taran Catania, National Wildlife Federation; Ralph Forscht, American Camp Association; Alex Toglia, American Forests

Senator Martin Heinrich

“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 Martin Heinrich with OAK Tree Award


The 2017 “OAK Leaf Award” winners include the Alliance for New York State YMCAs; the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative; and Paul Sanford of The Wilderness Society.

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

OAK 2016 Award Recipients

OAK 2016 Award Recipients

2016 OAK Leaf Awards
Outdoors Alliance for Kids Announces Inaugural OAK Leaf Awards: REI, The North Face, National Park Trust, Children & Nature Network and National League of Cities honored for collaborative approaches to getting kids outdoors.

From left to right: Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club, OAK Chair; Becky Smith, REI; Mikaela Randolph, Children & Nature Network; Priya Cook, National League of Cities; Margaret Lamar, Children & Nature Network; Grace Lee, National Park Trust; Tanya Oliveira, The North Face; Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society, OAK Vice Chair – OAK Welcome and Awards Ceremony at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Washington, D.C.

2016 OAK Tree Award
Senator Patty Murray of Washington Receives Inaugural OAK Tree Award for her steadfast support for environmental education.