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2012, a Recap

Las Vegas_Burk HS_April2012.JPGThe movement and practice of connecting America with our public lands and open spaces had quite a year. We began by changing our name, and integrated several programs (Building Bridges to the Outdoors, Inner City Outings, Local Outings and Military Families and Veterans Initiative,) under one glorious umbrella: Mission Outdoors. We said goodbye to our founding director, and gained a new one. We are looking forward to 2013 to building on the success of all of those who work so hard to get people outside in nature. 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 traveled to Washington, DC, to meet their Congressional representative. At a local level, we worked to pass a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights in New Mexico. Thank you to our 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 military program was out there all year. Thousands of children participated in Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors events all over the country. Hundreds of service members and veterans climbed, rafted, participated in outdoor leadership training and took part listening sessions to tell us about their experiences about the outdoors. Learn more about our military work

On the national front, Mission Outdoors had a very busy year. We spent a lot of time at the White House, participating in conferences, celebrating Champions of Change and honoring women in the environment. We walked the halls of Congress during Great Outdoors America week with a delegation of Sierra Club outings volunteers, educating members about our work to connect America with the outdoors. We also worked with our Baltimore ICO Chair to bring a delegation of 75 high school students from Baltimore to meet with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes to discuss the importance of getting youth outdoors, and take an urban hike across Washington, DC. We weighed in on environmental education and environmental justice at national forums. We helped champion efforts to ensure military servicemen and women could visit our National Parks and public lands and we weren't quiet when the Senate GOP blocked passage of the Veterans Jobs Corps Act which would have provided conservation jobs for our nation's heroes. And last but not least, we saw OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids) grow to include over 50 national organizations all committed to work together to get kids and families outdoors.

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. 

We wish you a wonderful holiday season and coming new year. Please, do us a favor and get outside. 

Tucson Inner City Outings Makes Lemonade out of Lemmons

icoCloudy days notwithstanding, this October, Tucson Inner City Outings volunteers took 5th graders from three schools - Flowing Wells Junior High, Safford Elementary and Los Ninos Elementary - on a series of trips to the Mount Lemmon Sky Center (affiliated with the University of Arizona) where they saw many types of cactus, sparkling minerals, and changes in temperature on a scavenger hunt at several stops on the mountain. Highlights included hiking along the Meadow Loop trail and fire overlook at the top of the mountain and delighting in the changing aspens. Although the sky clouded up early in the evening, limiting the time students could spend operating the telescope, the ICO students were able to learn about the use of infrared cameras and set up infrared game cameras to capture videos of deer and rabbits outside the dorms overnight. The outing made the University of Arizona magazine! Read more about this trip.

Fear Not of the Night Sky

The Cape Fear Group of the Sierra Club, based in southeastern North Carolina, teamed up with the Cape Fear Astronomical Society on Friday evening December 14th for a star party. The date was chosen by the astronomy club to take advantage of the Geminid meteor shower. For the Sierra Clubbers, it was a quiet way to celebrate the holiday season with spiced cider, hot chocolate, homemade cookies and dark skies. Our friends from the CFAS proved to be knowledgeable and patient teachers and found a variety of stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae to introduce to us. Though star charts were available, we found that Google Sky Maps on smartphones were useful to all!

Our First-Ever Google+ Hangout with Craig. That Craig.

Earlier this month, volunteers and the military and veteran community joined Sierra Club Executive Director, Michael Brune, craigslist Founder, Craig Newmark, and Mission Outdoors director, Stacy Bare for our first-ever Google+ hangout.

Several hundred gathered from around the country to hear about what we can do better serve the mil/vet community. Michael, Craig and Stacy took questions from the audience. Read more from Stacy Bare on this great event, and stay tuned for more hangouts!

What's on the Horizon

The Presidential Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is now accepting nominations for awards, including the Community Leadership Award, which is given every year to up to 50 individuals or organizations that provide or enhance opportunities to engage in physical activities. Nominations are due on February 1, 2013. 

April is just around the corner, really. It’s not too early to check out the Children & Nature Network’s Let’s G.O.! events and register. 

Know anyone between 18 and 24 with an interest in the outdoors? The Outdoor Educator Institute is taking applications for their intensive job training program geared toward youth who want to be outdoor leaders (and get paid for it!). 

News You Can Use

Take a bath, a forest bath (read the article to find out what this means. Researchers in Japan show that time spent outdoors in nature really is good for you.

You’ve got 30 minutes. What’s the best thing you can do for your heath?

An aspiring Picasso or Jane Austen? Nature restores the mind and boosts creativity. So, get out there.  

MO in the News

Who was naughty? Who was nice? Read Jackie Ostfeld's blog post about 2012

Our American lands restore the spirit of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Check out this video from This American Land

Read about Mission Outdoors Director, Stacy Bare in the Portland Phoenix.

Mission Outdoors trip to Glacier National Park with the Climate Reconnaissance Team made the November issue of GI Jobs. 

The goal of Sierra Club Mission Outdoors is to get America outdoors. Explore and enjoy! Find out more on our website.

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