We’re happy to announce the five finalists for the 2015 SHIFT Forward Award, a $10,000 prize that will be used by the winning initiative or individual to broaden the scope of its work in the world of conservation.
SHIFT Forward Award finalists are as follows:
The work of the five finalists will be highlighted at the 2015 SHIFT Summit, an element of the 2015 SHIFT Festival that explores how best to leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains.
Each of the finalists will provide a five-minute overview of their work on Wed., Oct. 7, at 4 p.m. at the Center for the Arts in Jackson, WY, during the opening of the Summit.
The presentation will focus on the work’s impact, innovation and replicability.
As well, presenters will discuss how the SHIFT Forward Award funds would be used to expand their success.
Each presentation will be followed by five minutes of plenary discussion to clarify questions about the program, refine the concept, or identify additional partnerships.
The final award winner will be selected through audience voting on Friday, Oct. 9, at 4:30 p.m. at the conclusion of the Summit.
SHIFT’s goal is to honor innovative initiatives or individuals that not only leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains, but that also engage the next generation of stewards in work that produces significant, measurable, and long-term improvements in their communities and environments, and that can be easily replicated in other locales.
The five categories of the SHIFT Awards (Non-Profit Leadership; Business Leadership; Youth Leadership; Adventure Athlete; and Public Land Management Innovation) recognize individuals, initiatives, or organizations that make innovative, impactful, and replicable contributions to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation.
Over the past nine months, SHIFT’s researchers identified more than 150 individuals or initiatives from around North America that leveraged outdoor rec for conservation gains. Further evaluations were made of the 84 initiatives that participated in the nomination process for the SHIFT Awards.
The top 25% of the initiatives as evaluated by SHIFT’s researchers have been invited to participate in the SHIFT Summit.
The top 10% of the initiatives in each category (or the three highest-ranking initiatives, whichever is higher) comprise the finalists for the awards.
The five initiatives that received the highest overall scores qualified for the SHIFT Forward Award, a $10,000 prize made possible by the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), a branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
More information on the SHIFT Forward Award finalists follows:
Location: Bozeman, MT
Synopsis: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) has recognized the convergence of outdoor recreation and natural science as an opportunity for citizen scientists. ASC recruits, trains, and manages individuals with strong outdoors skills—like mountaineering, diving, or whitewater kayaking—to bring back otherwise unattainable data from the far corners of the globe. Through this network, ASC hopes to be the most efficient provider of hard-to-attain environmental data that would otherwise be unavailable for conservation.
Chad Nelsen, CEO, Surfrider Foundation*
Location: San Clemente, CA
Synopsis: Over the last 16 years, as the Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation, Chad Nelson has been a part of hundreds of on-the-ground victories that have made for healthier coasts. One of Chad’s proudest accomplishments has been the establishment of the Reserve Marina Tres Palmas in Puerto Rico, one of the first marine reserves dedicated to protecting the marine environment and surfing. Another was the huge victory to save Trestles in San Clemente by stopping a six-lane toll road that would have destroyed the state park and the world-class wave. Chad has also helped lead the development of “surfonomics,” which is the science of understanding the economic value of surfing. Surfonomics is now being applied to coastal preservation efforts around the world. The economic value of healthy coastal ecosystems is an underutilized tool in coastal conservation – something we are changing through our ocean recreation studies.
The Access Fund’s ROCK Project*
Location: Boulder, CO
Synopsis: The ROCK Project, on behalf of the Access Fund, is dedicated to sharing Responsible Outdoor Climbing Knowledge. The ROCK Project builds on the overall mission of the Access fund, seeking to engage the climbing community and activate positive social norms, backed by consistent educational content, messaging, and programming that is specific to regional access issues and environmental concerns. To promote their message, the ROCK Project has launched a multi-stop event tour to US climbing hot spots, where days are filled with climbing clinics, presentations, stewardship projects, and parties. At its core, the ROCK Project asks that climbers commit to the ROCK Project Pact, a pledge to uphold good climbing ethics, protect mountain environments, and ensure continued access to cliffs and crags.
Winter Wildlands Association’s SnowSchool*
Location: Boise, ID
Synopsis: The SnowSchool program is a nationally replicable program that aims to inspire a lifelong interest in exploring the wonders of our nation’s winter wildlands. SnowSchool provides experiential hands-on learning through their guided snowshoe trips for youth that align with state department of education science standards. Schoolteachers grades 3-12 become local partners with SnowSchool, and prep their students by incorporating science curriculum that aligns with the SnowSchool mission. Exploring topics like snow water equivalent, water cycle, watershed systems, ecology, and wildlife biology, SnowSchool seeks to promote a lifelong appreciation for local ecosystems, especially winter environments in peril. SnowSchool also provides science-education training and mentorship to site staff and new and emerging SnowSchool sites to achieve the broadest reach of their work.
Location: Turlock, CA
Synopsis: Raquel is a Regional Coordinator for Latino Outdoors in the Central Valley, where she organizes outings for young Latino students to develop an appreciation for their place. Named by High Country News as one of “Ten People under 30 Changing the West,” Raquel was first a volunteer for the Tuolumne River Trust and other organizations in California’s Central Valley, where she noticed a lack of diversity in her outings. Raquel’s work serves the mission of Latino Outdoors, founded in 2013 to connect Latinos with nature and provide mentorship for young leaders pursuing outdoor-related careers.