SHIFT Award, SHIFT for the Planet Winners Announced

On Wednesday, October 17, in Jackson, WY, the winners of both The 2018 SHIFT Awards and the People’s and Jury’s Choice Awards for this year’s SHIFT for the Planet were announced.

The SHIFT Award winners represented the culmination of a year of research. In 2018, SHIFT researchers identified more than 300 initiatives from around North America that leveraged outdoor recreation for conservation gains and that helped advance or promote the health benefits of time outside.

Further evaluations were then made of more than 160 initiatives. Each initiative was assessed based on four criterion—Innovation, Impact, and Replicability—as well as the promotion and advancement of nature as a health benefit. (A description of the criteria used to select the SHIFT Award winners may be found here.)

Representatives of the top 25% of the initiatives were invited to participate at this year’s SHIFT. The three highest-ranking initiatives in each category comprised the finalists for the 2018 Awards, which were announced alongside the 2018 SHIFT Award winners on October 17.

Seven of the SHIFT Award finalists presented their work on October 16 during the second annual SHIFT for the Planet. The work was evaluated by both the audience and a jury, who decided the recipients of two $2,500 prizes—a Jury’s Choice and People’s Choice Award—which went to the initiatives deemed to be most Impactful, Innovative and Replicable.

2018 SHIFT for the Planet Award Winners

Chad Brown (r), with coach Sandy Hessler, at the 2018 SHIFT Festival. Brown won the People’s Choice Award for this year’s SHIFT for the Planet.

People’s Choice Award: Soul River Runs Deep

Location: Portland, OR

Soul River Runs Deep uplifts and strengthens communities by connecting inner city youth and veterans to the outdoors. harnessing incredible opportunities and powerful experiences that forges strong connections between youth and veterans, their communities, and the natural world. Spending time embraced in currents of river water, trekking majestic forested trails, and witnessing a bald eagle or elk in its habitat is healing. Connecting with nature is a powerful outlet to reduce stress, find focus, sharpen self-awareness, embrace spirituality, and develop positive values beneficial to both the individual and community. Soul River unites youth and veterans on challenging yet rewarding adventures at zero cost where they become part of something bigger than themselves, developing into strong leaders in the outdoors and their communities.

Dr. Robert Zarr, founder of Park Rx America, during the 2018 SHIFT for the Planet presentation.

Jury’s Choice Award: Park Rx America

Location: Washington, DC

Description: Park Rx America (formally DC Park Rx) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to decrease the burden of chronic disease, increase health and happiness, and foster environmental stewardship, by virtue of prescribing Nature during the routine delivery of healthcare.

The Park Rx America model facilitates entering and tracking information about the park prescription within the patient electronic medical record (EMR). Outside the EMR information is collected on the numbers of prescriptions written by each doctor, the number and percent of those prescriptions “filled” by their patients, and the park locations visited. Patients are identified by codes to protect privacy and medical information. The doctor is notified by text message what the patent completes the prescription. This model tracks the effectiveness of prescribing to get people outdoors; however, it does not track health outcomes. We determine health outcomes via testimonials from doctors and patients and thorough controlled studies conducted by independent researchers.

2018 SHIFT Awards Finalists and Winners

From left to right, Scott Nydam of Navajo YES, Marshall Masayesva, Vasu Sojitra, Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd, Julia Heemstra, Ryan Burke and Meg Haywood Sullivan at the happy hour discussion, Modern-Day Activist, at this year’s SHIFT.



Marshall Masayesva is the Field Coordinator with the Southwest Conservation Corps Ancestral Lands Hopi program, where he coordinates service opportunities for Hopi youth and young adults. In his free time, he is the Program Director of Adventures for Hopi, an adventure education/recreation program designed to get Native youth outside.


Vasu Sojitra is the Adaptive Sports Director for Eagle Mount Bozeman, one of the Coordinators for Earthtone Outside MT, and is the First Adaptive Athlete for The North Face. Vasu aims to shift the paradigm of the outdoor world and its connection to white culture to make it a more inclusive community that covers all spokes of diversity: Ability, Age, Ethnicity, Gender, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, and Socio-Economic Status.

Meg Haywood Sullivan is a photographer & environmentalist who splits her time between shooting campaigns and pushing for environmental stories through editorial features & social platforms. Meg’s career has taken her from contributing to a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece with the New York Times, to photographing with the world’s leading snowboard brands, to documenting a feature with National Geographic Adventure following John Muir’s footsteps on the fastest retreating glacier in Yosemite.



Your Forests Your Future is a national campaign run by a unique partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, the nonprofit organization Salmon Valley Stewardship, and the media company More Than Just Parks to get people involved in shaping the future of their public lands. Your Forests, Your Future connects people with their public lands and empower them to get involved in the future of how these landscapes are managed.


Park Rx America is a non-profit organization whose mission is to decrease the burden of chronic disease, increase health and happiness, and foster environmental stewardship, by virtue of prescribing Nature during the routine delivery of healthcare.

Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee works to get more people in Tennessee outside and moving to improve or sustain their physical and mental health through a mobile app with incentives, park prescriptions, and a state-wide partnership network.


Mona Koh, community director of East Bay Regional Parks District, at this year’s SHIFT.


East Bay Regional Parks District integrates community health into its parklands. They have collaborated with 15 health clinics and 80 multicultural community organizations to educate, motivate, and prescribe nature to under-resourced patients/members to walk in our parks.


Attila Bality, National Park Service Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program

The RTCA program addresses the challenges of collaboration and partnership in conservation and outdoor recreation. More specifically, Attila Bality’s work has helped the NPS, the RTCA program, its partners, and the field of outdoor recreation to address the challenges of incorporating health professionals and health considerations into outdoor recreation planning to improve quality of life in communities across the U.S.

Barton Health and USFS, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, a collaborative effort that promotes the delivery of therapeutic, nature-based experiences on National Forest System lands that benefit the medical patient community of Lake Tahoe, California.


Jason Urroz, director of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, at SHIFT.


Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Kids in Parks program works together with partners throughout the country to promote children’s health and the health of our parks by increasing physical activity and engaging families in outdoor adventures that foster meaningful connections to the natural world.


Outdoor Outreach serves San Diego communities challenged by low educational attainment, concentrated poverty, rising crime, and high youth unemployment. Nearly all the communities they serve are characterized as being “park-poor,”[1] where youth face multiple barriers to accessing the outdoors.

North Cascades Institute, Youth Leadership Adventures addresses interconnected, urgent and complex challenges:

  • Decreased connection to the environment and natural world and negative impacts on health, wellness, and academic success.
  • Lack of equity in access to outdoor educational enrichment opportunities.
  • Inequitable access to science and sustainability education.
  • Lack of Environmental education



Parks Rx: Your Prescription to Better Health is a nature-based, healthy living prescription that providers use to connect patients to more than 100 parks for physical activity in the City of Birmingham, Alabama.


California Outdoor Engagement Coalition is based at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity. Its mission is to expand equitable access to the outdoors for all Californians through cross-sector partnerships and collective impact.

The Oregon Health and Outdoors Initiative:

  1. A) Increases physical and perceived access to the outdoors
  2. B) Grows green space closer to people
  3. C) Supports culturally-relevant programming to build bridges to the outdoors.

They are leveraging outdoor recreation, healthcare, and the broader business community for conservation gains. All three groups endorsed a Washington County, OR measure to create $5 million/year in new conservation funding.


REI’s Marc Berejka accepts the coop’s award during the ceremonies.


REI Co-Op, which has supported research at the intersection of outdoor recreation and public health with the Great Outdoors Lab, the University of Washington and the UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital Oaklands Center for Nature and Health.


Archery Trade Association works to make archery and bowhunting accessible to everyone, in every community. They partner with state agencies and nongovernment organizations to provide programs, instruction and facilities in communities, and they reach beyond the industry to promote archery sports, reach new archers and bowhunters, and ensure outdoor-recreation for generations to come.

Idaho Business for the Outdoors’ mission is to provide a collective, non-partisan business voice in support of the investments, jobs, innovations, revenues and wellness benefits sustained through the preservation of Idaho’s outdoors.



Dr. Nooshin Razani (r) and Dr. Morgan Green of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Center for Nature and Health accept their award.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Center for Nature and Health serves families who have been most impacted by health disparities, and often have the least access to nature. CNH created some of the first-ever validated protocols for physicians to integrate nature-based behavioral interventions into their practices. Through innovative partnerships, they extend access to nature for patients and communities served by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.


The Surf and Hike Therapy Study for Active Duty Service Members with Major Depressive Disorder, which is being conducted by the Naval Health Research Center and Naval Medical Center San Diego, uses a stringent study design and validated measures to provide a strong test of the relative merits of surfing and hiking for mental health, both immediately and in the longer term.

The study compares the benefits of two interventions – surf therapy and hike therapy – for the psychological and physical health of active duty military personnel.

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