Press Releases

America Outdoors Announces the 2020 Winners of the George & Pamela Wendt Industry Achievement Award and THRIVE Awards


Knoxville, TN, December 14, 2020— America Outdoors announces the 2020 winners of the George & Pamela Wendt Industry Achievement Award and THRIVE awards at the AO Virtual Conference in early December.

The THRIVE award for Website Excellence was presented to Santa Barbara Adventure Company, the outfitter of the Channel Islands National Park and other outdoor adventures in Santa Barbara, California. The award was accepted by owner Michael Cohen. “What an incredible honor, thank you so much,” Cohen said before serenading the association with his trusty piano.

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Greg McFadden

The THRIVE award for Social Media Presence was presented to Canyons River Company, an LGBT-owned rafting company operating on the Salmon River in Idaho since 1985. The nominator Emily Sedgwick remarked of the Canyons team, “their social media is a means of connection and spreading kindness.” Owner Greg McFadden accepted the award on behalf of the team.

The George & Pamela Wendt Industry Achievement Award is bestowed upon an individual that has shown exceptional innovation, achievement, dedication, and commitment to the field of outdoor recreation. Our 2020 award winner, Bill Parks of NRS, embodies these principles.

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Bill Parks

In 1972, Bill Parks founded NRS to prove his idea that a successful business could be about more than making money – that it could add value to the lives of its customers and employees and be a force for good in the world. So, he started with just $2,000 from his personal savings, stocked an inventory of boating gear in his garage, and hand typed the first Northwest River Supplies, Inc. catalog. Almost 50 years later, NRS is a leading supplier of inflatable rafts, catarafts, kayaks, wetsuits, PFDs, paddles, oars, drybags, straps, and safety equipment in the outdoor industry.

“This is really an honor for the NRS employees,” Bill commented when accepting the award. In 2014, instead of selling NRS to the highest bidder, Bill sold it to the employees to carry on the legacy.

The awards were presented by America Outdoors Board of Directors President, Brian Campbell.


America Outdoors thanks these winners for their dedication to the outdoor industry.

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The America Outdoors Association is a community of outdoor adventure businesses who have joined together to promote and support the outdoor recreation industry through advocacy, education, and collaboration. AO has been working on behalf of the outdoor industry for over 30 years. For more information, please visit our website www.americaoutdoors.org.

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