2012, in 600 Words or Less.
2012 was an amazing year at the Sierra Club for me. I stepped away with a tear in my eye as the Military Family and Veteran Coordinator at the Sierra Club, to assume the broader responsibility of directing Mission Outdoors, the umbrella organization that is taking four distinct programs (Building Bridges to the Outdoors, Inner City Outings, Local Outings and Military Families and Veterans Initiative,) and ensuring we’re all working towards the same goal: to get America Outdoors. At the same time, I also said goodbye to our founding director, Martin LeBlanc, who gave me the chance to begin work at the Sierra Club and the phenomenal team of staff and volunteers I’m lucky enough to work with, they remind me each day I have the world’s greatest job!
Here’s a look back at what we all accomplished this year:
Over 12,000 young people got out in nature through our Inner City Outings programs all around the country. They visited Christmas tree farms and petting zoos, played a role in protecting a national treasure in the Midwest – the Hackamatack - hiked mountains and valleys and camped out for the first time. They led pledges to bring more bike lanes to communities and travelled to DC to meet their Congressional representative. They did all of this thanks to countless volunteers and agencies who make up Inner City Outings.
Thousands of military families and veterans enjoyed all the beauty that our public lands have to offer. From working with University of Michigan researchers to examine the effects of the outdoors on mental health to funding ice climbing trips for veterans to measure climate change at Glacier National Park, our MFVI (link) program was out there all year. Thousands of children participated in Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors events all over the country. Hundreds of veterans climbed, rafted, and participated in listening sessions to tell us about their experiences about the outdoors. Learn more about our military work.
On a political and policy front Mission Outdoors had a very busy year. MO staff spent a lot of time at the White House, participating in conferences, celebrating Champions of Change who get America outdoors and honoring women in the environment. We were on board to give our thoughts on environmental education andenvironmental justice at national forums. We walked the halls to support policies that encourage our military families and service members to connect with the great outdoors, and we weren’t quiet when important legislation to provide jobs for veterans died. Locally, we worked to pass a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights in New Mexico.
Lastly, hundreds of thousands of people, from all over the country, including Modern Family’s Nolan Gould, not only got outside to enjoy nature, but played a major role in protecting and preserving by going on local outings and participating in service projects. Volunteers with Potomac Region Outings prepared for months to hike the C&O canal – a one-day 62 mile for some. Outings leaders from North Star Chapter in Minnesota led outings via public transit (you can do it too!), and volunteers from Manoa, Hawaii, restored popular trails for the public.
Do yourself a favor and get outside in 2013—better yet, join us and we’ll all get outdoors!