Today’s episode of the Take Me Outdoors podcast features Luis Benitez, Colorado’s Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, and Jon Snyder, Washington’s Outdoor Recreation and Economic Policy Advisor to the Governor, on the topic of growing the number of states that are standing up the Office of Outdoor Recreation. Both share their respective state’s vision and goals around this mission-critical office, as well as what the commonalities are for the growth of this office nationwide.
Benitez stepped into his position as the State of Colorado’s first Director for the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry on July 1, 2015, and he’s now in his third year. He brings years of experience as a leader with Outward Bound, Fortune 200 and 500 consulting and multiple summits of Mt. Everest to the role. He also served as a Town Council Member for the City of Eagle, Colo., prior to joining Governor Hickenlooper’s team at the State of Colorado.
Snyder’s role coordinates policy, legislation, budget items, and outreach related to outdoor recreation. He was appointed in December 2015 after serving on the Spokane City Council for six years and owning a regional outdoor magazine for nine years. Snyder served on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Spokane Transit Authority, and Spokane Regional Health District as well as having a leadership role in passing local ballot measures to fund parks, streets, libraries, and public transportation.
Luis and Jon give us great insights into the catalyzing effects that SHIFT has brought to the growth of this State leadership post. The podcast covers a lot – including the importance of this role to bring together a fragmented outdoor recreation economy and conservation movement and the importance of doing so to protect America’s public lands.
For the third year in a row, the SHIFT Festival provides a platform for the building of best practices around these all-important offices — one that ties together the impact of outdoor recreation, its utility as an economic driver and the importance of conservation. This year’s workshop is a critical part of the SHIFT Festival’s theme: The Business Case for Public Lands.
The panel takes place on Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to Noon, at the Snow King Resort. This year’s panel will be led by Cailin O’Brien-Feeney with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), who has contributed a great deal of leadership and support to the formation of the growth of this office. Rachel VandeVoort, the newest leader in the group for the State of Montana, will also be in attendance, as will Brad Petersen, who was the very first leader appointed in this role for the State of Utah. Full details can be found here.