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OAK Celebrates Great Outdoors America Week and other News

OAK july e-newsletter


OAK July Newsletter

OAK Celebrates Great Outdoors America Week

June 23 -26, 2014 marked the annual Great Outdoors America Week, where 100s of advocates descended upon Washington, DC, to remind our nation’s leaders of the importance of America’s great outdoors. OAK celebrated GO Week by hosting our second annual  Youth and America’s Great Outdoors Event. Dozens of OAK members joined over 400 youth for a festival along the Anacostia River at Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland.

Gina Quote 2photo collage 2 Big thanks to Minneapolis-based adventure travel organization and OAK member, Wilderness Inquiry for running the show. Thanks to them and dozens of OAK members, there was no shortage of activities to keep the 400+ youth active and engaged. Stations included canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, tent pitching, falconry, along with an array of educational demonstrations and games all centered around nature and the outdoors.

OAK Go Week AwardeesDuring OAK’s Youth event, leaders from across the country weighed in on the importance of getting kids outdoors. Speakers included: Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy; National League of Cities President and Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota Chris Coleman; Chief of Staff for EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Gwen Keyes Fleming; Interior Secretary Jewell’s Senior Advisor David Jayo; Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Peter Rogoff; Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation Peter Martin; Executive Director of Wilderness Inquiry Greg Lais; and The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams.

A huge thanks to all OAK members and friends who pitched in, including American Camp AssociationAmerican ForestsAmerican Heart AssociationAmerican Hiking SocietyAnacostia Watershed SocietyAppalachian Trail Conservancy,Children & Nature NetworkCity of Saint Paul Office of the MayorCity Parks AllianceThe Corps NetworkEarth Conservation CorpsInternational Mountain Biking AssociationIzaak Walton League of AmericaNational League of Cities,National Park Service,  National Park TrustNational Parks Conservation AssociationNational Recreation and Park AssociationNOLS Expedition DenaliNorth American Association for Environmental EducationThe Outdoor FoundationPatuxent Research RefugePrince George’s County Department of Environmental ResourcesPublic Lands Service CoalitionRails-to-Trails Conservancy,  REIRiver Management SocietySierra ClubSierra Club FoundationUrban Waters Federal PartnershipUS Army Corps of EngineersUS Bureau of Land ManagementUS Environmental Protection AgencyUS Fish and Wildlife ServiceUS Department of the InteriorUS Department of TransportationWilderness InquiryThe Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA.

Mayor Coleman Quote

OAK Go Week CanoeingGreat Outdoors America Week wrapped up on June 25 at a Congressional reception at the historic Mott House, where The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and other conservation groups, including several OAK partner members, honored three members of Congress for their conservation achievements: Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), George Miller (D-CA) and Jim Moran (D-VA).

It was the perfect way to cap off a successful week of activities including: OAK’s Youth and America’s Great Outdoors Event; the launch of the 50 for 50 Campaign: a series of 50 conservation corps projects in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act; Capitol Hill briefing on building diverse nature-smart leaders led by Children & Nature Network; and a screening of NOLS and Expedition Denali’s film about the first African American team to climb Alaska’s Denali. 

Read more about GO Week and OAK’s Youth event on OAK’s BlogThe Corp Network, the Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society.


OAK supports Urban Waters Federal Partnership

OAK Urban Waters at EventThe Urban Waters Federal Partnership is a partnership of 14 federal agencies being led by EPA, DOI and USFS. The Partnership is working to engage urban populations in restoring their rivers and surrounding neighborhoods, improving access for water recreation, and helping create a network of parks and greenspaces connecting downtown cores with suburban and rural areas, creating opportunities for improving health and wellness. The Partnership provides a powerful means of reaching into our cities and metropolitan areas to engage all residents—especially youth—in conservation and stewardship of nature where they live, work, and play. 

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership participated in OAK’s Youth and America’s Great Outdoors Event. This event was just the start of ongoing collaboration between OAK and the partnership. 


OAK Weighs in on Capitol Hill

Thanks to all the OAK members who signed onto support OAK’s recent policy positions. In the last few months, we’ve urged Congress to support appropriations for programs that get kids outdoors and to support the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, the No Child Left Inside Act, the Public Lands Service Corps Act and active transportation.

Sierra Club issued an action alert on the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act to its membersFeel free to use this action alert or create your own to weigh in with your members of Congress!


ICYMI OAK Members Have Been Blogging

OAK NRPA Kid CampingKick Nature-Deficit Disorder to the Curb: Celebrating Great Outdoors Month, OAK member guest blog by Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club

5 Tips for Camping with Kids, OAK member guest blog by Jessica Culverhouse, National Recreation and Park Association

Thriving in the Great Outdoors, Guest blog co-authored by Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association and Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club

Organizations Come Together to Celebrate Kids and Youth in the Great Outdoors, OAK Member Guest Blog by Tia Watkins, Sierra Club

Are you missing OAK’s blogs when they are posted? Be sure to subscribe to follow OAK’s blog today!


Help Us Grow OAK

Do you know another business or organization that share’s OAK’s mission to expand the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors? Encourage them to become a member and refer them to our Join OAK page!

Organizations Come Together to Celebrate Kids and Youth in the Great Outdoors

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) Hosts an Event as part of Great Outdoors America Week

OAK Member Guest Blog by Tia Watkins, Sierra Club

During my second full week as a Sierra Club intern I was lucky enough to participate in Great Outdoors America Week , a week dedicated to raising awareness around outdoor issues by advocating for public lands and connecting people with nature to members of Congress and the Administration. I had a great time educating leaders on Capitol Hill, especially spreading the word about the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act !  I met wonderful volunteers from Sierra Club chapters across the country and became acquainted with some of our nation’s leaders in outdoor recreation, education and health. Though I loved every action-packed second of Great Outdoors America Week, my favorite event hands down was the Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ Youth and America’s Great Outdoors event.

OAK youth event, on June 25th, was held along the Anacostia River at Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland. The scenic Bladensburg Waterfront Park, maintained by the Prince George’s County Department of Park and recreation, provided an ideal backdrop for the days’ activities.

Special Thanks to Prince George's County Parks and Recreation for use of this phenomenal urban park space.
Special Thanks to Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation for use of this phenomenal urban park space.

Spearheaded by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) and Minneapolis-based adventure travel organization and OAK partner member, Wilderness Inquiry  the event served to spread a message of ensuring outdoor opportunities for children, youth, and families across America. Starting at nine in the morning with the arrival of the first bus of children from a local YMCA, Wilderness inquiry and several other OAK partner organizations began running a variety of activity stations.

There was no shortage of activities to keep the 400 plus guests of all ages thoroughly entertained throughout the morning. Stations included canoeing along the river, rock climbing, mountain biking, tent pitching along with an array of educational demonstrations and games all centered around nature and the outdoors.

A diverse group of organizations including OAK members and friends took part in the event not only by running activity stations but by also bringing kids and coming out in support. Participating organizations included the American Camp Association, American Forests, American Heart Association, American Hiking Society, Anacostia Watershed Society, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, Children & Nature Network, City of Saint Paul Office of the Mayor, City Parks Alliance, The Corps Network, Earth Conservation Corps, International Mountain Biking Association, Izaak Walton League of America, National League of Cities, National Park ServiceNational Park Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Recreation and Park Association, NOLS Expedition Denali, North American Association for Environmental Education, The North Face, The Outdoor Foundation, Patuxent Research Refuge, Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources,Public Lands Service Coalition, Rails-to-Trails ConservancyREI, River Management Society, Sierra Club, Sierra Club Foundation, Urban Waters Partnership,US Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior, US Department of TransportationWilderness Inquiry, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA. The participation of every single one of these groups was vital to the success of the OAK Youth and America’s Great Outdoors event.

Wilderness Inquiry outfitted over 400 people with PFDs and paddles to get ready to explore the river in 24' Voyageur canoes
Wilderness Inquiry outfitted over 400 people with PFDs and paddles to get ready to explore the river in 24′ Voyageur canoes
Members of NOLS Expedition Denali teach young campers how to pitch a tent
Members of NOLS Expedition Denali teach young campers how to pitch a tent
A group of kids 'walks' the AT with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in a fun and interactive game
A group of kids ‘walks’ the AT with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in a fun and interactive game
Young environmentalists learn about local wilderness with maps and wildlife trading cards provided by the National Parks Conservation Association
Young environmentalists learn about local wilderness with maps and wildlife trading cards provided by the National Parks Conservation Association
A group of young learners get up-close and personal with some macro invertebrate samples and create their own macros with members of Creek Freaks, an outdoor education program offered by the Izaak Walton League of America
A group of young learners get up-close and personal with some macro invertebrate samples and create their own macros with members of Creek Freaks, an outdoor education program offered by the Izaak Walton League of America
High School students from Sierra Club’s Baltimore ICO group play a game while sharing their knowledge of aquatic animals with an educator from the Bureau of Land Management. Looks like a blast!
High School students from Sierra Club’s Baltimore ICO group play a game while sharing their knowledge of aquatic animals with an educator from the Bureau of Land Management. Looks like a blast!
REI brought along a 26 foot mobile rock climbing wall for youth to show off their skills
REI brought along a 26 foot mobile rock climbing wall for youth to show off their skills
Head of Prince George’s County's Community Outreach Promoting Empowerment Section, Deborah Weller leads an interactive demonstration on how community activities affect the watershed and what residents can do to help our local waterways.
Head of Prince George’s County’s Community Outreach Promoting Empowerment Section, Deborah Weller leads an interactive demonstration on how community activities affect the watershed and what residents can do to help our local waterways.
Two very special guests attended the OAK youth event, Mr. Hoots and Skye! A Eurasian eagle-owl and a red-tailed hawk brought by Earth Conservation Corps, a local group dedicated to protecting the Anacostia and the habitat it provides for beautiful animals like these.
Two very special guests attended the OAK youth event, Mr. Hoots and Skye! A Eurasian eagle-owl and a red-tailed hawk brought by Earth Conservation Corps, a local group dedicated to protecting the Anacostia and the habitat it provides for beautiful animals like these.
National Park Trust's Buddy Bison welcomes canoers back to shore. Photo courtesy of National Park Trust.
National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison welcomes canoers back to shore. Photo courtesy of National Park Trust.

Believe it or not the 400 kids and youth in attendance were not the only ones enjoying Wednesday’s festivities. Invited leaders in outdoor recreation and education shared in the fun as well. Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, US Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and Director of Sierra Club’s “Our Wild America” campaign Dan Chu all took a ride down the river in Voyageur canoes.

Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and Sierra Club’s Dan Chu get set to embark with some friends from Sierra Club’s Baltimore ICO group
Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and Sierra Club’s Dan Chu get set to embark with some friends from Sierra Club’s Baltimore ICO group
Mayor of Saint Paul Chris Coleman mans the bow of his Voyageur canoe with his excited team from Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation Summer Programs
Mayor of Saint Paul Chris Coleman mans the bow of his Voyageur canoe with his excited team from Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation Summer Programs

Around eleven o’clock while activities were in full swing, adults gathered for an awards ceremony while the children continued to get their nature on. Great Outdoors America Week Champion Awards were presented to US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)Jo-Ellen Darcy, and National League of Cities President and Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota Chris Coleman for their tireless work in providing children, youth and families with the opportunities to connect with nature and the outdoors.

Administrator McCarthy’s Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming was happy to accept the award on her behalf. Likewise, Secretary Jewell’s Senior Advisor David Jayo spoke about the importance of outdoor experiences while accepting the award on Secretary Jewell’s behalf. Additional speakers for the ceremony included US Department of Transportation Under Secretary for Policy Peter Rogoff, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation Peter Martin, Executive Director of Wilderness Inquiry Greg Lais and The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams.

Jamie Williams of The Wilderness Society presents Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy with an award commemorating her work. Darcy oversees the Army Corps of Engineers, the nation's largest federal provider of outdoor and water-based recreation.

Jamie Williams of The Wilderness Society presents Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy with an award commemorating her work. Darcy oversees the Army Corps of Engineers, the nation’s largest federal provider of outdoor and water-based recreation.

"[The America’s Great Outdoors initiative] is beneficial for so many reasons; health, community, ecosystem restoration and most importantly the happiness and well-being of our children" – Assistant. Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy

“[The America’s Great Outdoors initiative] is beneficial for so many reasons; health, community, ecosystem restoration and most importantly the happiness and well-being of our children” – Assistant. Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy

Greg Lais of Wilderness Inquiry presents an award to Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is also President of the National League of Cities. A recent partnership between the Department of the Interior, National League of Cities and the YMCA of the USA aims to connect urban youth to the outdoors.
Greg Lais of Wilderness Inquiry presents an award to Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is also President of the National League of Cities. A recent partnership between the Department of the Interior, National League of Cities and the YMCA of the USA aims to connect urban youth to the outdoors.
"Outdoor experiences are important opportunities for youth to develop social and emotional skills, build relationships and develop an appreciation and respect for nature" – Mayor of Saint Paul Chris Coleman
“Outdoor experiences are important opportunities for youth to develop social and emotional skills, build relationships and develop an appreciation and respect for nature” – Mayor of Saint Paul Chris Coleman
“Walking and bicycling are great ways to get to work, get in shape, or just have fun” – US Department of Transportation  Acting Under Secretary for Policy Peter Rogoff
“Walking and bicycling are great ways to get to work, get in shape, or just have fun” – US Department of Transportation
Acting Under Secretary for Policy Peter Rogoff
"It’s fitting that during this 50th anniversary year of the Wilderness Act we’re celebrating nature, both wild and near." –     Sierra Club Foundation Executive Director Peter Martin
“It’s fitting that during this 50th anniversary year of the Wilderness Act we’re celebrating nature, both wild and near.” – Sierra Club Foundation Executive Director Peter Martin
"The Interior Department is working to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors in order to help our nation’s public lands and to develop the next generation of outdoor stewards."– Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Interior David Jayo
“The Interior Department is working to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors in order to help our nation’s public lands and to develop the next generation of outdoor stewards.”– Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Interior David Jayo
“The Environmental Protection Agency looks forward to continuing our work to improve air quality and protect our nation’s waterways, so all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors." – Environmental Protection Agency Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming
“The Environmental Protection Agency looks forward to continuing our work to improve air quality and protect our nation’s waterways, so all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.” – Environmental Protection Agency Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming
Wednesday's event was in support of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a partnership of federal organizations aimed at connecting urban communities with their waterways. Thanks to the Urban Waters team for their work!
Wednesday’s event was in support of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a partnership of federal organizations aimed at connecting urban communities with their waterways. Thanks to the Urban Waters team for their work!

By noon, the awards ceremony had come to a close and children were beginning to load back onto buses. Gauging by smiles alone, the event was a tremendous success. The rain forecast for the day had a change of heart and allowed for a beautiful day of outdoor activity and fun! Everything came together so perfectly with the help of wonderful organizations and invited speakers. The OAK Youth and America’s Great Outdoors event would not have been possible without members of the OAK Steering Committee, OAK fellow Alyssa Charland and Wilderness Inquiry and its highly-qualified staff.

OAK Chair and Vice Chair, Jackie Ostfeld and Paul Sanford preparing for the arrival of the first 400 plus kids and youth
OAK Chair and Vice Chair, Jackie Ostfeld and Paul Sanford preparing for the arrival of the first 400 plus kids and youth
Huge thanks to Chad Dayton (here with our friend Buddy Bison) and his team from wilderness Inquiry for organizing such a fantastic event!
Huge thanks to Chad Dayton (here with our friend Buddy Bison) and his team from wilderness Inquiry for organizing such a fantastic event!

We hope to see you at next year’s Great Outdoors America Week!

Our Great Outdoors America Week Champions showing off their awards with speakers and event organizers.  Top row (left to right): Department of Transportation Acting Under Secretary of Policy Peter Rogoff, Wilderness Inquiry Director of Programs Chad Dayton, The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams, Mayor of Saint Paul Chris Coleman, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior David Jayo, Environmental Protection Agency Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, OAK Co-Vice Chair Paul Sanford, and Wilderness Inquiry Executive Director Greg Lais. Botton row (left to right): Sierra Club Foundation Executive Director Peter Martin, OAK's State and Local Action Team Co-Leader Katie Clarke Adamson, and OAK Chair Jackie Ostfeld.
Our Great Outdoors America Week Champions showing off their awards with speakers and event organizers.
Top row (left to right): Department of Transportation Acting Under Secretary of Policy Peter Rogoff, Wilderness Inquiry Director of Programs Chad Dayton, The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams, Mayor of Saint Paul Chris Coleman, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior David Jayo, Environmental Protection Agency Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, OAK Co-Vice Chair Paul Sanford, and Wilderness Inquiry Executive Director Greg Lais. Botton row (left to right): Sierra Club Foundation Executive Director Peter Martin, OAK’s State and Local Action Team Co-Leader Katie Clarke Adamson, and OAK Chair Jackie Ostfeld.

Check out another great recap of OAK’s 2nd Annual Youth and America’s Great Outdoors event on Storify!

Kick Nature-Deficit Disorder to the Curb: Celebrating Great Outdoors Month

OAK member guest blog by Jackie Ostfeld, Nearby Nature Director, Our Wild America Campaign, Sierra Club

Originally published in Sierra Club’s “Lay of the Land

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just for kicks, I googled fear of outside this morning. My search turned up 187 million results. For comparison’s sake, I then googled fear of death and fear of the unknown, fears I thought were fairly common. To my surprise, there were only 84.7 and 73.5 million hits, respectively, and when combined, still fewer results than my first search. While the findings of my quick internet inquiry will probably never hit the annals of any reputable science journal, there is a growing body of evidence that America is becoming increasingly sedentary and spending a lot of time indoors (you can find the facts on the Children & Nature Network’s site).

June is Great Outdoors Month, and there is no better time to kick Nature-Deficit Disorder to the curb. So, let me share ten ways to get outside and celebrate the outdoors this month.

1. Get Out-ing. Did you know that the Sierra Club, America’s largest grassroots conservation organization, offers outings throughout the country (and the world)? Sierra Club’s 7,500+ trained volunteers are leading outdoor activities this June (and all year round) for beginners and the most experienced hikers. Find your local Sierra Club chapter or group and join an outing that matches your interests. Being a newly trained and certified Sierra Club outings leader myself, I can personally vouch for the program.

2. On a rainy day, read President Barack Obama’s Great Outdoors Month Proclamation for some inspiration. Here’s an excerpt: “This month, as we enjoy the natural splendor of our Nation, let us stay true to a uniquely American idea — that each of us has an equal stake in the land around us, and an equal responsibility to protect it. Together, let us ensure our children and grandchildren will be able to look upon our lands with the same sense of wonder as all the generations that came before.”

3. Hit the trail with the American Hiking Society. June 7th is National Trails Day®, a time to explore and enjoy America’s trail system. Enjoy a stroll along a city trail or take on a section of the Appalachian Trail. There is no trail too big or small that isn’t worth exploring.

4. Celebrate African Americans in National Parks Day to honor the rich history and contributions African Americans have made to our National Park System. This year,Bay Area residents are joining Outdoor Afro and the National Park Service to pay homage to the famed Buffalo Soldiers by retracing their historic journey from the Presidio of San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. In 1903, units of the 9th United States Cavalry made the 280-mile trek over thirteen days from the Presidio to Yosemite. Buffalo Soldiers spent the summer in the park protecting it against poaching and grazing and blazing trails still used today.

5. June 14th is National Get Outdoors Day. Grab your family or a friend – try to find someone who doesn’t spend a whole lot of time outdoors – and show him or her why the outdoors is so special to you. Start simple at a nearby park close-to-home or go visit a state or national park, forest or refuge and celebrate America’s public lands.

6. Better yet, take your dad, and make it a weekend. June 15th is Father’s Day and there is no better way to celebrate then a weekend outdoors. Skip the wrapping paper and give your dad a gift that he really wants – quality time with you!

7. Pack a lunch and grab your family and friends for a picnic on June 18th for International Picnic Day. Getting outdoors doesn’t have to mean climbing Mount Everest. Spending time outdoors can be as simple as grabbing a blanket and some grub and getting to your local neighborhood park for a picnic.

8. During Great Outdoors America Week, June 23-26th, join Sierra ClubThe Wilderness Society, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and many other groups in Washington, DC, to let your leaders know how much you care about America’s Great Outdoors. Great Outdoors America Week raises awareness around outdoors issues by bringing together hundreds of diverse organizations and activists to meet with lawmakers and administrators to advocate for our outdoor way-of-life. Can’t make it to Washington? Consider meeting with your local decision-makers, or sending a letter to your representatives, to let them know how much you value our public lands.

9. Close out the month by participating in the Great American Backyard Campout(hosted by the National Wildlife Federation) where thousands of people across the nation will spend the night of June 28th outdoors, in a tent or sleeping under the stars. And remember, America’s public lands belong to all of us, so even if you don’t have a backyard right outside your door (and many of us don’t), you can camp in a park near you!

10. Oh, and plan ahead – because opportunities to get outdoors don’t stop at the end of June. Parks and Recreation Month AKA July is right around the corner.