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Outdoor Nation is expanding its reach to get more millennials and people of color involved in outdoor recreation.
The nonprofit added three new cities – Chicago, Settle and Raleigh-Durham N.C. – to its annual summit line-up. It also announced a new summit program called OWNit Summits, which will be led by past summit participants.
“We’re really excited to be in these new markets,” said Outdoor Nation Spokesperson Stasia Raines. “These are going to complete our coverage of a lot of the biggest regions in the U.S.”
Outdoor Nation has been running summits to train young leaders on how to implement their ideas for community projects for getting people involved in the outdoors. Select projects also get grant funding. The two-stage summit program consisted of a larger Signature Summit and a smaller more focused ON-IT Summit. Now the organization will add a third stage: The OWN-IT Summit, which will be led by the youths themselves.
Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation (the umbrella organization for Outdoor Nation), said she’s been happy to see such a diverse turnout at ON summits – which bodes well for potentially solving both the issues of lack of diversity and lack of youth engagement in outdoor recreation.
“I’ve been so excited to see all of our summits have been so diverse – new, young people of diverse backgrounds,” Fanning said, noting that around 60 percent of summit attendees are from minority backgrounds. “That’s an unprecedented statement and a testament to what Outdoor Nation Stands for – reaching young people across the city.”
The new OWN-IT summits look to conintinue empowering the youth who have gone through both the Signature and ON-IT Summits.
“We’re turning over the keys,” Fanning said. “We’re telling them, ‘Now you’ve had the training, proven your commitment and you’re ready to host your own summit.’ ”
The new summits will take place in five markets where ON has held summits previously and Fanning said she expects good things.
“These will really allow Outdoor Nation to realize potential and exponential growth,” she said.