New Mexico Outside Recreation Division Pronounces 2022 Outside Fairness Fund Recipients

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Town of Mountainair (2021 & 2022 awardees). Courtesy/EDD

Public Lands Interpretive Association (2021 & 2022 awardees). Courtesy/EDD

Latino Outdoors (2021 & 2022 awardees). Courtesy/EDD

Heart of the Gila (2021 & 2022 awardees). Courtesy/EDD

EDD News:

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD), a division of the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD), announced the award recipients of the Outdoor Equity Fund (OEF) for the 2022 grant cycle.

The first-of-its-kind OEF was created to enable all New Mexican youth equitable access to the outdoors. The grant supports programming that provides outdoor experiences that foster stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s land, water, and cultural heritage.

“New Mexico pioneered the Outdoor Equity Fund in 2019 when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the grant into law,” EDD Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “I’m so proud to continue supporting this next generation of outdoor industry leaders.”

ORD would like to thank the amazing volunteer evaluation committee that spent hours reviewing and scoring the applications that came in from throughout the state.

The ORD is especially grateful to the reviewers:

  • Kay Bounkeua – New Mexico Deputy Director, The Wilderness Society;
  • Rachel Swanteson-Franz – Urban to Wild Specialist, The Wilderness Society;
  • Angel Pena – Executive Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project;
  • Olivia Jensen – Operations Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project;
  • Gabaccia Moreno – National Monuments, WYSS Fellow;
  • Christy Tafoya – Retired Director, New Mexico State Parks; Owner, Christy Tafoya Consulting, LLC.;
  • Shani Harvie – Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator, EDD;
  • Carl Colonius – Outdoor Recreation Planner, ORD; and
  • Alyssa Renwick – Deputy Director, ORD.

Since 2020, OEF has awarded $1.2 million to 82 programs that have exposed nearly 25,000 youth to New Mexico’s great outdoors. Private sponsors to the fund include the Wilderness Society, The North Face, and REI, who have invested alongside the State of New Mexico in this innovative grant. Recently, the state invested $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to support the grant and nurture the next generation of land and water stewards in New Mexico.

This year, 48 organizations were awarded grants ranging from $2,130 to $20,000. The total 2022 funding amounted to $813,719.28. The awardee list includes programs from 16 counties with 50 percent supporting Tribal, rural, and/or land grant communities. The awarded groups will bring 12,391 young New Mexicans hiking, biking, camping, hunting, and more, from now through 2023.

“There are some truly incredible programs in this third round of Outdoor Equity Fund grants,” Axie Navas, ORD director, said. “Other states, and the country as a whole, are paying attention to the grassroots outdoor equity work happening in New Mexico. We are leading the way.”

Thanks to the hard work and expertise of our reviewers, we’re proud to announce the list of 2022 Outdoor Equity Fund recipients. Congrats!

2022 (FY23) Outdoor Equity Fund Award Recipients:

Albuquerque Sign Language Academy ($20,000, Bernalillo): The Albuquerque Sign Language Academy (ASLA) Honey Badger Conservation Crew supports deaf, hard of hearing, and students with disabilities, offering them access to the outdoors through hands-on meaningful conservation service while tying classroom learning to real world experiences. ASLA focuses on the environmental sciences in a fun and interactive way through a series of outdoor activities while teaching new skills and activities that encourage youth and their families to access the outdoors in and around New Mexico.

Aldo Leopold Charter School ($20,000, Grant): Since 2005, Aldo Leopold Charter School has provided engaging outdoor experiences to enliven curricular learning, develop a love of place and an understanding of human impacts overtime. Serving 6-12th graders from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds, their goal is to engage students in the wild and in the co-creation of a sustainable future. Through their backpacking trips, grade-level trips, community restoration projects, Youth Conservation Corps program, and Friday community experiences, students come to understand themselves, each other, the community, and their potential in a rapidly changing world.

Amy Biehl High School Foundation ($5,500.00, Bernalillo): Amy Biehl High School (ABHS) believes that all students benefit from outdoor and shared out-of-class experiences. ABHS is proposing several outdoor experiences that focus specifically on social-emotional learning and applying lessons from Earth Science to a real-life study of the Ponderosa forest. By going outside, students gain a greater appreciation for the environment while building relationships with their peers, learning about themselves, and applying classroom lessons to real-world experiences.

City of Clovis, New Mexico ($20,000.00, Curry): The City of Clovis Summer Youth Program is designed to provide Clovis’ local youth from kindergarten through 5th grade opportunities to engage with the outdoors and learn about the environment. The program is held for eight weeks throughout June and July and consists of all-day programming each weekday. The program is based at the Roy Walker Recreation Center and utilizes several recreational areas in Clovis, including the Hillcrest Park Zoo, splash park, Potter Pool, sunken garden, playgrounds, walking trails, picnic areas, open spaces, and more.

City of Sunland Park ($12,608.28, Dona Ana): The City of Sunland Park will be offering a series of classes and seminars to be hosted during the weekends for all youth, with a focus being on grades 3 through 6. The events will be one hour long and will be held at the city’s local parks. These events will include a hands-on walk throughout the park highlighting the designated topic of the session. The sessions will include lessons on a variety of topics including, Humans and the Environment, Animals, Plants, and Ecology

Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District ($9,650.00, Sandoval): This project supports ORD goals by providing 100 to 125 Rio Rancho school students with an experiential hands-on program that provides place-based watershed education through local water resource agency presentations, a service learning project called the action project, and an immersive field trip to restore habitat by the Rio Grande under the RiverXchange® program. In addition, the implementation of emerging best practices in equity and environmental education through the RiverXchange® teacher training, program partner meetups, and program development will more effectively support diverse youth in building meaningful and long-term connections to their local environment.

Desert Community Wellness ($10,000.00, Dona Ana): Project Cougars Outside provides the students of Lynn Community Middle School with hands-on, enriched experiences to foster a love of learning, connections to New Mexico histories, and wellness experiences in the beautiful outdoors. Cougars Outside will create access to students by taking place during the school day breaking down barriers of cost, time, and transportation all while supporting the learning taking place in the classroom. This school year provides a unique opportunity with enrichment days built in, so students won’t miss instruction. As a community school, this project is a great additional learning support offered to students and families.

Diné Introspective Incorporated ($20,000.00, San Juan): Diné outdoors provides Indigenous youth in the Four Corners region the opportunity to get out outdoors through rafting the San Juan River. Indigenous river guides teach the youth to reclaim and revitalize their ancestral roots by visiting cultural sites, learning the importance of all life of the water, animals, and plants, and providing Indigenous knowledge in rafting, ancestral stories, and Diné language. They provide an environment of kinship to flourish Indigenous youth with teachings, stories, and ancestral knowledge to understand their identity around the water and land.

Dona Ana Village Association (DAVA) ($15,000.00, Dona Ana): DAVA will continue its outdoor youth engagement programs by engaging youth from the village and the surrounding area about the importance of the national historic trail through community outdoor activities that incorporate the village and the trail. This will include engaging youth in the planning of the outdoor space south of the village, in conjunction with the Rivers Trails Conservation Assistance Grant. DAVA will also continue its mural projects, community bike rides, walking tours of the village and restoration of historic acequias.

East Mountain High School ($15,000.00, Bernalillo): The EMHS Sophomore Experience is a five-day outdoor education experience that acts as a capstone to the 10th grade year at EMHS. Every sophomore attends a multi-day outdoor learning adventure. At the end of the experience, sophomores return to EMHS and present on their experience. Rather than offering an experience that only students who can afford the experience will attend, in this model, 100 percent of our sophomore class, and eventually, 100 percent of all students will be able to experience this important cornerstone of our school.

Embudo Valley Tutoring Association ($5,000.00, Rio Arriba): The Embudo Valley Tutoring Association and Embudo Valley Library collaborate to provide a free four-day-a week After School program to the local community’s school age children during the school year. The program combines culturally relevant outdoor and indoor (weather determined) activities to reinforce the traditions of agriculture and land stewardship in the Embudo Valley. While the program uses a building as homebase, the emphasis is on outdoor learning and recreating, as students arrive after spending the majority of the day indoors at school.

Friends of La Luz Range (FOLLR) ($20,000.00, Otero): FOLLR will provide standardized instruction to students about the identification, handling, use, storage, care, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment as it pertains to hunting in the forests in New Mexico. The students will attend classroom instruction provided by certified instructors and will oversee practical application of the use of firearms and archery equipment on the shooting range.

Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks ($20,000.00, Dona Ana): “Our Moving Montañas Program was created to connect our community youth to our national monument. It is obvious that conservation and the outdoor recreation-space does not represent the diversity in our community. Through this program, we aim to foster the next generation of public land stewards that represents our minority-majority community. We want the youth in our community to experience our public lands in a positive way, so they understand that public lands truly belong to all of us. We utilize a vast partnership network to ensure we are reaching those who would not have these opportunities.”

Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP)/Silver City Watershed Keepers (SCWK) ($15,600.00, Grant): The Silver City Watershed Keepers Summer Camp provides an underserved population of youth a week-long outdoor experience in their local watershed, public lands, and community to empower stewardship of their environment and cultural heritage. Three week-long summer day camps are planned for the summer of 2023 and will provide up to 60 4-6 graders with the skills to address issues of environmental protection, including climate change, and preservation of cultural history. Activities at the Gila River, Mimbres River and San Vicente Creek offer kids outdoor experiences and education related to protection of water resources and cultural sites.

Heart of the Gila Inc. ($13,989.00, Grant): Heart of the Gila’s Watershed Recreation and Education Program consists of our Mimbres River Watershed and Gila River Watershed Adventures. The program provides fun, immersive, environmental education opportunities, focused on local streams, rivers, and watersheds. Exploring nature with children helps develop a lifelong connection to the outdoors and an appreciation of outdoor recreational opportunities. Including primary caretakers in this project allows for the continuity of meaningful out-door experiences and can serve to create lasting relationships to wild places. Some teen youth who participate in these programs will be recruited for a Gila National Forest / Trails stewardship project and training.

Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance ($20,000.00, San Miguel): The Gallinas River is the source of life for Las Vegas. The Gallinas River Park, extending through the center of town, is an exceptionally rich outdoor space that is easily accessible to locals. It provides a safe corridor for year-round and migrating birds, as well as bountiful habitat for trout, offering wonderful opportunities for local youth to experience bird watching and fly fishing in their own backyard, inspiring stewardship and respect for the limited and precious water of the Gallinas River, the land that constitutes the Gallinas Watershed, and the cultural heritage of Las Vegas and surrounding areas.

Hero’s Path Palliative Care ($20,000.00, Bernalillo):“ We provide outdoor environmental education for children who are medically complex. These children benefit from not only specialized educational programming, but also having nursing support to ensure their safety during the program. Our program will meet those needs by having a nurse available to care for medical needs while the children participate in our outdoor education program provided by Nature Matters Academy. The educational curriculum is created and taught by biologists with a respect and understanding of our local ecosystems to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship.”

Impact Outdoors ($20,000.00, Guadalupe): “We connect with communities through education, conservation, and meaningful outdoor opportunities. We are a nonprofit organization that provides youth with outdoor education experiences through activities related to ecosystem conservation, habitat management/improvement, biology of native flora and fauna, and overall stewardship of the land. We are passionate about the outdoors and believe that the best way to share that passion and protect native resources is by teaching others about the outdoors.”

Latino Outdoors ($7,500.00, Bernalillo): Latino Outdoors (LO) is a national Latinx led and serving organization, working towards inclusivity and equitable access to nature. They aim to diversify outdoor engagement, narratives, and leadership. LO Albuquerque will host monthly free, family- friendly outdoor outings for Latinx youth, families, and individuals with an emphasis on participants with little or no previous outdoor experience. Outings will include experiences such as day hikes, fishing, rafting, and camping. Their aim is to improve outdoor access for Latinx communities as well as increase outdoor know-how and conservation awareness.

Localogy ($20,000.00, Taos): This camp connects youth in northern Taos County with the foodshed, watershed, and resilient culture. Explore local farms, ranches, public spaces, acequias, streams and wild places with community members as guides. Campers become active stewards of vital systems through fun and engaging service learning.

Mosaic Academy ($20,000.00, San Juan): The goals of the program are to create a curiosity about the local environment and ways to improve that environment. The students will combine elements of STEAM to become curious about their local environment through natural study of the landscape. The school recently moved to a new facility which has sections that have not been landscaped. This provides the perfect opportunity to use elements of science, art, and outdoor gardening to have students design their own outdoor space. Additionally, they plan to expand the students’ understanding of their natural environment by conducting bike rides through the seasons. This will help them to track the ever-changing desert landscape in the area. They will do these during Exploratorium times (a designated time each week in which teachers share a passion of theirs with the students). They hope to help students notice and protect their natural environment while looking for safe ways to recreate in their local environment.

Mountain Kids! ($20,000.00, Santa Fe): Mountain Kids! is an outdoor education and adventure program for children based in Santa Fe. They foster a sense of community and personal challenge while instilling a love of nature. Through their Local Outdoor Learning Adventures (LOLA) Four Seasons program we will provide students from four classrooms at low-income public schools with seasonal, curriculum-connected outdoor adventures; Fall, Winter, and Spring, culminating in a full week of outdoor adventure camp during Summer 2023. In addition, teachers will be provided with support for outdoor classrooms, and parents will be invited to join field trips into the mountains to ignite family adventures.

Native American Community Academy ($20,000.00, Bernalillo): The Native American Community Academy (NACA) is a community-led charter school designed to serve Native students in grades K-12 with a culturally integrated education. NACA’s mission is to create a school that will develop students into strong leaders who are academically prepared, secure in their identity, and healthy. NACA incorporates land-based healing and learning (LBHL) as part of a holistic learning approach. Many NACA students have experienced historical separation from their ancestral lands due to forced relocation and assimilation practices. Healing relationships with the land is an essential part of enabling students grow into healthy adults.

New Mexico Dream Team (NMDT) ($20,000.00, Bernalillo): New Mexico Dream Team (NMDT) is a state-wide network committed to empowering undocumented, LGBTQ+, and mixed status immigrant families towards liberation. The UndocuHealing program provides a space for immigrant, undocumented, and LGBTQ+ youth to heal from the traumas of displacement and discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic had disastrous impacts on the health and well-being of local communities. The UndocuHealing Outdoors program reconnects with and reminds undocumented youth that their health and well-being matters, that their identities are honored, and that they too belong and are safe in the local outdoor spaces and can be stewards of the beautiful, shared environment.

New Mexico Interscholastic Cycling League ($19,950.00, Bernalillo): The League’s mission is to build a youth mountain biking community for New Mexico middle school and high school students that maintains a fun, safe and challenging environment while focusing on building: friendship, inclusivity, outdoor appreciation, resiliency, respect, and community. One of their goals is to create a cycling league that gives all of the youth the opportunity to appreciate the outdoors and cycling without being limited by socioeconomic barriers. To do this they will provide scholarships to youth in under-served areas for participation costs and supplement the cost of race equipment to keep general costs low to all riders.

New Mexico School for the Arts ($20,000.00, Santa Fe): Coming into the right relation with place requires an understanding and appreciation for the stories, past and present, that cover the land. Focusing on the outdoors as a place to learn and grow, this program seeks to foster a deeper awareness and respect for the natural world amongst students through outdoor excursions, environmental education, and developing an outdoor classroom. NM School for the Arts will focus on outdoor equity as it relates to collective healing through restorative practice. Their program includes a special focus on New Mexico waterways, fire’s ecosystem role/impacts, cultural heritage, and the implications of climate change in the region.

New Mexico Wildlife Federation – Nature Niños ($20,000.00, Bernalillo): The priority of Nature Niños is to reach underserved/marginalized youth and families throughout New Mexico who lack opportunities to connect with public lands and encourage them to have a meaningful, purposeful, and personal connection to the natural world. Through this mission they are creating a new generation of land, water, and wildlife stewards to protect and foster creative solutions to the long-term care of the planet while nature helps to nourish their social and emotional health and wellbeing.

Public Lands Interpretive Association ($15,000.00, Otero): The Whiptail Trails Club empowers seventh and eighth-grade students to learn about southern New Mexico public lands. In its second year, this program aims to provide in-class visits and field trips to more than 200 students in rural areas outside of Las Cruces. In addition, the program will provide camping experiences for 15 self-identified girls. The program will help students learn more about New Mexico public lands and how to be responsible stewards. The camping experience will offer outdoor skills training such as how to read a map, how to pack a backpack successfully, as well as basic First-Aid techniques.

Pueblo of Acoma Health & Wellness Program ($20,000.00, Cibola-Pueblo of Acoma): The Acoma Health & Wellness Department is committed to providing quality outreach, health care services and health promotion/disease prevention services to the Pueblo of Acoma and neighboring communities. They will provide opportunities to youth that they would not otherwise have the ability to experience due to low-income households, lack of transportation, and limited resources within the Acoma community. These experiences will include the integration of the Acoma culture and values within organized outdoor programming for the youth of the Pueblo of Acoma and surrounding communities. A collaborative effort will be established with the Acoma Behavioral Health Program to provide an outdoor youth Gather of Native Americans (GONA) event to incorporate mental health awareness and education.

Railyard Park Conservancy ($13,500.00, Santa Fe): The Railyard Park Living Laboratory is a field trip program designed to engage youth with outdoor play and learning in Santa Fe’s 11-acre Railyard Park. Through hands-on field trips, youth are introduced to the wonder of the outdoors that can be found in the heart of the City. Program participants take part in recreation opportunities found in the Park and engage with ongoing conservation projects within the Park’s gardens and landscapes.

Reading Quest ($2,130.00, Santa Fe): Reading Quest provides free tutoring to students in the Santa Fe Public school who struggle with learning to read. As part of their overall approach to student wellness and social/emotional learning, they have also begun providing groups of students who have never been in the woods with an opportunity to be in nature and learn about our relationship to the natural world by taking groups of fifteen students on a five-hour hike on the Nature Conservancy Santa Fe Canyon Preserve Trail.

Reunity Resources ($20,000.00, Santa Fe): Farm Camp is an enriching outdoor education experience for children ages 5-10. Serving approximately 215 children over the summer break, campers participate in hands-on activities based on what is happening during the growing season on our regenerative farm. Activities range from seed sowing, harvesting, cooking, and eating to journaling, wild crafting, fort building, adobe play, singing and storytelling. Teachers bring diverse expertise in indigenous land practices, survival skills, herbalism, cooking, nutrition, movement, and art.

Roots & Wings Community Charter School ($20,000.00, Taos): Roots & Wings (RWCS) has been in operation for 23 years and has consistently provided high quality multi-day outdoor experiences for children grades K-8. No student has ever been turned away for any outdoor trip and they require these trips for all students (as much as is possible). All students participate in two multi-day/night wilderness experiences each year, and more if time, money, and transportation allow. In all their Learning Expeditions and outdoor experiences, they hope to help students think critically, communicate clearly, become ethical people, to apply their learning, and to contribute to a better world.

Southwest Preparatory Learning Center ($18,586.00, Bernalillo): This program will provide students with a green classroom space where their science curriculum can be enhanced with hands-on experiments and first-hand observations of scientific phenomena. It will provide a green space with natural light where students can experience increased mental and emotional wellness and a sense of well-being in nature. It will also provide students with a connection to their food as they learn skills that can transfer to home gardening, as well as agricultural, horticultural, or farm-based careers. Utilizing limited and previously unusable space, this program will connect students with the outdoors.

Taos Academy Charter School ($20,000.00, Taos): Taos Academy is a free state-chartered school serving 300 students in grades 5-12. The mission of Taos Academy is to prepare all students to achieve excellence by promoting academic achievement, strong leadership skills, and social responsibility. The outdoor education program is a deeply integrated part of this mission and is built into the 21st century leadership program and their college/career pathways options. This grant request will allow them to expand their curricular offerings, to provide ongoing teacher training, and to remove financial and transportation barriers to participation in outdoor ed programs, ensuring equity of access for all TA students.

The Semilla Project ($20,000.00, Bernalillo): The Semilla Project’s SemiYA! (YA = Youth Activation) program is a unique new organizing model that creates equitable access to the outdoors for BIPOC youth while introducing them to or increasing their activism, influence, and action on climate change and racial justice. With equipment, training, transportation, and trained outdoor guides and mentoring from experienced activists who come from the same communities as they do, engage youth and young adults in outdoor experiences, such as backpacking, camping, and rock climbing (often for the first time). Programs are offered at no-cost to participants.

Together for Brothers (T4B) ($19,996.00, Bernalillo): With support from OEF, the biking and outdoor project will equitably engage boys and young men of color (BYMOC) for access to outdoor recreation including equipment and safety, documenting, and sharing stories with decision makers and other and also building capacity for BYMOC to be leaders at all levels in their communities in collaboration with families, community partners and decision makers. T4B is committed to biking and outdoor recreation connected to gender and racial justice that includes climate and environmental justice as well as transit equity and mobility sovereignty.

Town of Mountainair ($14,785.00, Torrance): The Town of Mountainair will take the students from Mountainair Public Schools on outdoor adventures to see what New Mexico has to offer. A majority of these children do not get out of the small town and definitely do not get out to go see the New Mexico outdoors. This grant allows them to provide opportunities to their students that would not have them otherwise, such as visiting the Sandia Peak, learning about hot air ballooning at the International Balloon Fiesta, and whitewater rafting.

UNM Community Engagement Center (CEC) ($20,000.00, Bernalillo): Anti-Racist Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI Outdoors) is a series of outdoor events we plan to organize and facilitate in 2022-2023 with a focus on remembering the connection to land, water and culture, and promoting education and civic engagement for youth who live in urban settings across Albuquerque and surrounding areas. The AYLI series will connect youth to the rich heritage and culture of NM communities as well as understand the vital role the public plays in sustaining green spaces and creating access for communities who haven’t historically had access to it due to unfair policies, laws, history, etc.

Velo Cruces, Inc. ($16,000.00, Dona Ana): Children with disabilities can benefit from riding adaptive cycles. Physical benefits include increased joint motion, muscle movement, circulation, cardiovascular health, core development, and improved coordination and balance. Emotionally, riding adaptive cycles can help foster inclusion and a sense of independence. Barriers to obtaining an adaptive cycle include prohibitive cost, lack of local availability, and lack of support and guidance as to which cycle or accessory is best suited for a rider’s needs. Every Body Rides with Grace seeks to draw attention to these barriers and increase accessibility to cycle riding for New Mexican youth with disabilities.

Village of Los Lunas Open Space ($15,995.00, Valencia): This program will consist of four separate outdoor recreational adventures that will correspond to the different seasons. The following trips will consist of ten or twenty youth: a half-day rafting trip, a full-day ski trip, a fishing trip, and a camping trip. These trips would include all associated costs, including transportation, meals, equipment, and lodging when appropriate. Los Lunas Open Space personnel will accompany the youth and help with the educational aspects needed for each activity while encouraging the child to become stewards of the outdoors.

Village of Pecos ($ 20,000.00, San Miguel): The Village of Pecos will partner with the NM Wildlife Federation’s Nature Niños program to develop local programming for youth who come from marginalized communities and from families facing economic hardships. The Pecos Pequeños project supports youth and families in the outdoors project will employ Pecos residents to create and administer outdoor recreation and conservation based programs within the community by the community with technical support from the NM Wildlife Federation’s Nature Niños program.

Vista Grande High School ($20,000.00, Taos): Through the “Place in Time” outdoor recreation program, students will explore the region’s natural resources while connecting to their cultural heritage. At each site visit, students will learn about the cultural value of a natural resource over time, how that resource is being threatened in our time of climate crisis, and ways to look towards the past as we transition towards a more sustainable future. Students will connect with the cultural significance of natural resources and learn about the resiliency of indigenous land management systems.

Walatowa Visitor Center ($10,000.00, Bernalillo-Pueblo of Jemez): Walatowa Visitor Center will increase access to and participation of youth hiking the Red Rock Trails through guided tours and educational events that share the history and culture of the Jemez Pueblo. Youth will learn about the unique cultural, geological, and environmental elements of the Walatowa area.

Yerba Mansa Project ($7,950.00, Bernalillo): The Yerba Mansa Project aims to strengthen connectivity between people, plants, and the land in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. They are a volunteer-based, community-supported project dedicated to providing free educational programs and environmental service learning through restoration activities specifically focused on the native edible and medicinal plants that stand at the center of New Mexico’s biological and cultural landscapes. Their volunteers work to restore some of the most legendary healing plants, teach youth and adults about their importance, and help to protect critical habitats and associated knowledge for present and future generations.

Youth Mural Program ($20,000.00, Grant): In 2024, the Gila National Forest will celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the first designated national wilderness area. In preparations of this celebration the Forest Service has partnered with the Youth Mural Program to commemorate this milestone through public art murals created and designed by area youth. Two permanent murals will connect the Gila, Aldo, and Blue Range Wilderness areas to Silver City and surrounding communities. The murals will be maintained in partnership with the Forest Service and Youth Mural Program, creating a lasting legacy of public land stewardship and wilderness education.

YouthWorks ($20,000.00, Santa Fe): YouthWorks leverages partnerships and resources to promote a continuum of land and environmental health projects. These projects offer promising career training and job placements for young people while improving conditions and preserving resources for the public while tackling local climate and poverty issues with youth as the foundation and catalyst for change. Additionally, arts and poetry workshops are designed as a means for youth to share in creative ways in small groups and through meeting outdoors in nature, at local farms and parks, and along the Santa Fe River. The outdoor activities are designed for group engagement and featured self-expression and or team activities. Activities are highly engaging and healthy for participants. Hands-on group experiential projects allow for productivity and personal accomplishment and recognition among youth, with works then celebrated through community showings and presentations for youth to receive the tributes that is so deserved for engagement, and continued interest in outdoor project participation.

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project ($20,000.00, McKinley-Zuni Pueblo): This project connects Zuni youth with new opportunities for outdoor recreation and cultural education through three main components. First, ZYEP will facilitate a Winter Recreation Trip for youth focused on engagement with the outdoors and traditional storytelling by community elders. ZYEP will also provide opportunities for youth to hike their local lands, accompanied by cultural guides. And finally, ZYEP will broaden opportunities for youth to bike in the local community. Providing these opportunities for youth is part of a larger cultural shift, opening accessibility to the outdoors for the next generation of Zuni while staying rooted in their identity.