12 of Our Favorite Outdoor Outreach Non-Profits
We all complain about long lift lines, or having to hike an extra mile or two to camp in solitude. There’s always that one guy who just has to fish the same pool.
But look at it this way: The more people who are genuinely engaged in the great outdoors, the more people will be inclined to appreciate it. These organizations preserve the lands we love, support the people who rely on them, and help us all gain access to our favorite outdoor recreation opportunities.
What if you drove across the country for your Numero Uno Bucket List Climb and found the road gated and padlocked? Sure, you’d get over it and head down to Yosemite and see if the crowds weren’t too bad on El Capitan. They’re not, but the Park Service was forced to implement a hefty permit system in an attempt to curtail litter at both the base and summit. And you’re almost out of gas money.
That hasn’t happened yet, but it could. Access Fund works with private and public land managers to keep routes open to climbers, while advocating for land stewardship and conservation principles.
Since 1876, Appalachian Mountain Club has advocated for Northeast and Mid-Atlantic natural spaces. Their volunteer and professional crews maintain 1,800 miles of trails; operate lodges, huts, campgrounds, and cabins; and lead tours and classes to engage people of all experience levels with their environment. Ever hike the AT? You’ve benefited from the AMT’s hard work, especially if you’ve stayed in one of their picturesque huts.
Those recovering from service-connected physical, mental, and emotional injuries aren’t served by misguided remarks like, “Just go outside! You’ll feel better.” Anyone who’s heard that phrase from well-meaning but uninformed people know that it’s just not that simple. Continue Mission’s structured educational and recreational programs help veterans balance mental health and physical therapies with family-inclusive outdoor activities and events.
Our National Parks can’t flourish off federal funding, concessions, and permits alone. Glacier National Park Conservancy, the official fundraising partner for Glacier National Park, supports the parks’ preservation, education, and research programs. These include everything from zebra mussel abatement to student internships, and from bear cams to trail building.
Some of the world’s least-served populations live in or around the world’s biggest adventure travel destinations. The Utah-based luxury adventure travel company World Wide Trekking decided to do something about it. HOP is its philanthropic arm, committing to long-term, sustainable support for cultures and communities in Nepal, Peru, and Tanzania. HOP works with local ambassadors as a key function of their “do no harm” policy, ensuring the communities’ cultures aren’t compromised in the process of receiving material and educational support.
When a bunch of pro and recreational winter sports enthusiasts band together to form a climate activism organization, it’s not (just) because they’re worried about a future without frozen waterfalls and backcountry powder. POW galvanizes the public and private sectors to take part as climate activists at any scale, and enables individuals (that means you and us) with the talking points and support to make a difference.
The first step toward climbing the Seven Summits is exploring your own backyard. Kids in the Pacific Northwest have Peak 7 Adventures to help them address self-limiting issues, build self-confidence, and learn outdoor adventure skills. Peak 7 Adventures offers expedition-style trips as short as a weekend to as long as the 50-day Bower Adventure Course. Parents are welcome to join many activities, and older kids can pad their resumes with guiding, rescue, and safety certifications.
Urban multi-use trails tie neighborhoods together. Most encourage walking, running, and cycling, but this one? Serious bonus points, as it’s along the lazy, paddle-able Schuylkill River. Non-profit Schuylkill River Development Corporation, with the City of Philadelphia’s backing, is dedicated to enhancing public spaces along an eight-mile tidal corridor between the Fairmount Dam and the Delaware River. Known as the “Schuylkill Banks”, this stretch is part of the historical Schuylkill River Trail.
John Muir co-founded Sierra Club in 1892, knowing there was a pressing need to protect our wilderness. Could he ever have imagined the scope of today’s Sierra Club projects, or how broad-reaching its influence? Sierra Club’s membership has grown to more than 3.5 million conservation-minded people and organizations, and Sierra Club sponsors dozens of programs and legislation addressing environmental and humanitarian issues around the world.
Maybe not the best analogy, but the Snake River Fund stands on four legs: Access, education, stewardship, and partnerships. The Jackson Hole, Wyoming non-profit approaches conservation of the Wild and Scenic Snake River watershed system in a manner that reflects the structure of its tributaries: The Fund understands that its education and outreach programs, combined with funds donated by corporate and private donors, all contribute to long-term awareness, support, and action.
We’ve written a lot about people protecting the environment, but what about those who protect us from Mother Nature? Anyone who spends time in the mountains is aware of avalanche danger. Utah Avalanche Center keeps those of us in the mountains—from Moab to the Uintas—abreast of current conditions.
UAC works in tandem with the National Weather Service for the most accurate data available. They partner with Know Before You Go to implement education programs at the grade school level on up, and they offer pro-level courses for avalanche science, rescue techniques, and backcountry recreation. (Sorry, they can’t help with all that paperwork on your desk. That’s on you.)
We love the term “adaptive sports” as it applies to mobility-challenged outdoor enthusiasts. The phrase itself is an answer to the question, “How can I get my best friend on the ski slopes after her back injury?” Well, you adapt the technique, the equipment, and how you support her efforts to go for it. Wasatch Adaptive Sports helps get adaptive needs people and their families outdoors on their own terms, in a social and supportive environment.
KÜHL People Care
We’re committed to sustainable practices as we source the materials and labor for our outdoor clothing products. Once we’ve outfitted you for your next grand expedition, it’s up to you decide where, how, and why you want to go. Thankfully, these organizations will make sure that happens. Do you have your favorite outdoor-adventure related non-profit? Tag us on Facebook, and tell us why you’re so passionate about what they (and you) do!