Outdoor Nation announced today the grant winners of The Paddle Nation Project, an initiative that aims to connect young Americans with their waterways through recreational paddling. The Outdoor Industry Association® Paddle Advisory Council selected 13 projects from a pool of 156 applications, choosing winners based on their innovation, likelihood of increasing paddling participation, number of youth likely impacted, partnership potential and budget factors.

The winners are (organization • project • amount):

  • Tennessee State Parks • Paddle into Your Future • $2,500
  • Nantahala Kids Club/Nantahala Racing Club (NC) • Nantahala Kids Club • $2,500
  • Coosa River Basin Initiative (GA) • Couch to Canoe in 50 Days • $2,150
  • Help them L.A.S.T. – Love a Turtle at Sea (NC) • The Upstream Downstream Connection Summer Camp • $2,500
  • Rutabaga (WI) • Serious Fun-Paddling instruction with urban youth • $2,415
  • Redding Recreation (CA) • Camping 101 & Beyond • $2,500
  • Homespace Corporation (NY) • Give Together Grow Together • $935
  • The Children’s Guild (MD) • Paddling Equal: Creating Multi-Ethnic Videos • $2,500
  • Carolina Rivas (VA) • Bringing Paddling Home • $2,500
  • Anacostia Watershed Society (MD) • Anacostia Paddle Nights • $2,500
  • ACA | Canoe – Kayak – SUP – Raft – Rescue (VA) • Empowering Youth – Learn, Paddle, Preserve • $2,500
  • Big City Mountaineers (CO) • BCM paddling program in Chicago • $2,500
  • National Sports Center for the Disabled (CO) • NSCD Canoe & Kayak Program • $2,000

Outdoor Nation is an initiative of The Outdoor Foundation®, a 501c3 non-profit organization established by Outdoor Industry Association® to inspire and grow future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.

The grants are made possible by a $30,000 contribution from Nielsen Expositions’ Outdoor Retailer, the outdoor industry tradeshow held twice each year. This donation to the Paddle Advisory Council is part of a series of initiatives proposed by Nielsen Expositions in 2009 to support the paddle community attending Outdoor Retailer.

“We’re thrilled to sponsor this initiative to help youth recruit more paddling enthusiasts,” said Kenji Haroutunian, vice president and show director for Outdoor Retailer. “As the industry’s leading tradeshow, we recognize the importance of supporting programs that grow outdoor participation. Promoting youth involvement in outdoor activities such as paddling will ensure the long-term health of our industry.”

The Outdoor Industry Association Paddle Advisory Council is a coalition of top paddlesports manufacturers, retailers and stakeholders dedicated to advancing and growing participation in paddlesports.

“Recreational paddling is one of the most accessible and impactful ways to introduce young Americans to the outdoors,” said Lili Colby, sales and marketing director for MTI Adventurewear and chair of the Paddle Council. “We received so many inspiring applications. The winning projects really stood out in their ability to attract youth to many types of paddling, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing and rafting.”

“We are so grateful for Outdoor Retailer’s support for these grants,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “By providing equipment, instruction, leadership training, mentoring and educational resources, these projects will make paddlesports accessible to many youth who might not otherwise have the opportunity to get out on the water.”

Outdoor Nation is committed to increasing and expanding youth participation in outdoor recreation thorough entertainment, education, engagement and action in order to cultivate a healthier, more active generation. During the past year, Outdoor Nation has awarded more than $250,000 to youth for projects that reconnect young people with nature.

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