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Outdoor Industry Association Announces Recipients of the 2006 Outdoor Industry Ambassador and Outdoor Industry Innovator Awards

Backpacker and River Sports Outfitters recipients of the OIA’s Outdoor Industry Ambassador Award; Gary Erickson, founder and owner of Clif Bar, recipient of OIA’s Outdoor Industry Innovator Award

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Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) today announced the recipients of the inaugural 2006 Outdoor Industry Ambassador Award and Outdoor Industry Innovator Award, as nominated by the outdoor industry and then selected by OIA’s Board of Directors. OIA has awarded Backpacker magazine and River Sports Outfitters the Outdoor Industry Ambassador Award, and Gary Erickson, founder and owner of Clif Bar, the Outdoor Industry Innovator Award. The awards were presented today at the opening breakfast at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City before an audience of over 500 show attendees.

The Outdoor Industry Ambassador Award recognizes a company who has made significant and sustainable achievements toward the growth of participation in outdoor activities. Those efforts could include spearheading conservation programs, the development and support of programs or efforts intended to serve as model practices for the industry, the introduction and advancement of responsible tourism practices, outstanding consumer outreach campaigns, or have made great strides in encouraging youth to develop an active outdoor lifestyle. This award pays tribute to a company who has embraced a worthy cause and made a significant achievement.

The Outdoor Industry Innovator Award recognizes an individual from a retailer, manufacturer, supplier or media who has made significant contributions toward the continued innovation and growth of the outdoor industry. Those contributions can be either through a dynamic business initiative, the creation and development of new outdoor activity niches, active and responsible promotion of new or existing market areas, or the spear-heading of collaborative efforts to initiate innovative and lasting industry partnerships. This award recognizes a business achievement by an individual.

“The Outdoor Industry Ambassador and Outdoor Industry Innovator awards allow our industry to recognize those businesses and individuals that embody the spirit of innovation and commitment to sustainability that form the core ethos of our community, as well as the passion to promote the active outdoor lifestyle,” comments Frank Hugelmeyer, president of Outdoor Industry Association. “Backpacker, River Sports Outfitters, and Gary Erickson exemplify that which sets us apart from other industries. Each of their achievements illustrate that the outdoor industry is about more than selling a product, it is about a way of life and a connection to the world we live and play in.”

Outdoor Industry Ambassador Award: Backpacker

Published by Rodale Inc., Backpacker brings the outdoors into our readers’ living rooms, inspiring and enabling them to go more places and enjoy nature more often. Backpacker is the world’s first GPS-enabled magazine and is the only one whose editors personally test the hiking trails, camping gear, and survival tips they publish.

“Backpacker’s chief mission is to bring the outdoors to the doorsteps of all Americans and to encourage them to get out more and take advantage of all the open spaces that abound throughout the country,” said Jonathan Dorn, editor-in-chief, Backpacker. “We are honored to be recognized by our peers and industry friends who have supported us throughout the years. This is a fantastic vibrant industry that we are proud to serve.” Dorn accepted this award on behalf of Backpacker.

Outdoor Industry Ambassador Award: River Sports Outfitters

River Sports Outfitters, a single store operated in Knoxville, Tennessee for over 20 years, was founded in 1982 by Ed McAlister. “Since its inception, River Sports Outfitters has not only strived to be a quality retailer, but also, to become involved locally and set an example as a doer and a resource for individuals,” said McAlister, who accepted the honors on behalf of his team. A core element of River Sports Outfitters business is introducing people to the active outdoor lifestyle through community tours and clinics. Most recently, the company team up with the Team Timberland/GoLite to introduce the Knoxville community to adventure racing.

“This is a tremendous honor to be in such good company. The outdoor industry has been my home for the better part of two decades,” notes McAlister. “Having River Sports Outfitters recognized by this fantastic, vibrant group is something I will hold near and dear to my heart. Not only do we have the opportunity to work in an industry that we love, but we are fortunate to spread the good word about the outdoor experience.”

Outdoor Industry Innovator Award: Gary Erickson

Gary Erickson’s commitment to the outdoors has been evident at Clif Bar, a leading manufacturer of all-natural and organic energy foods, since he founded the company in 1992. Gary determined that Clif Bar would go organic. “Clif Bar’s switch over the past five years to organic ingredients spares the outdoor environment annually from thousands of pounds of pesticides and herbicides whose production contributes to global warming,” said Erickson. “Clif Bar’s increasing focus on the use of organic ingredients, now more than 11 million pounds annually, creates healthy food to energize outdoor enthusiasts and spare the planet from harmful agricultural practices”

Giving back has been a consistent theme in Gary Erickson’s life. Gary gives 1% of Clif Bar’s revenue to community causes every year. He refuses to sell his company or take it public, ensuring that Clif Bar remains committed to sustainable practices and community service. As a lifelong cyclist, Gary established an award which recognizes the “domestiques,” the unsung workhorses of the Tour de France. In addition, Gary authored the book Raising the Bar, which explores how companies can others operate based on sustainable practices.

“Without the outdoor industry, and what it represents, I am sure our job would have been more difficult. My heartfelt thanks go to this dedicated group that shares my passions equally.”