July 22, 2013. Grace Fortune from the Western Youth Network (WYN) was awarded the Merrell Pack Project activation grant from Outdoor Nation, a national initiative that reconnects millennials to the outdoors. The activation grant provided by Merrell and Outdoor Nation will fund WYN’s Project Venture program, an evidenced based prevention program that Fortune modified to reconnect young people living in the Appalachian Mountains to the environment through adventure-based experiential learning and service to the community.
The Western Youth Network will expand the current Project Venture Substance Abuse Prevention Program to include six adventure based trips that will connect 85 rural, high risk youth to their surrounding natural environment of the Appalachian Mountains.
“We are proud of the opportunity to turn our young people’s ideas into actions,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that started the Outdoor Nation movement.
“Thanks to Merrell’s support, the Pack Project activation grant will help empower millennials to take on their generation’s most significant outdoor challenges by removing barriers to participation and engaging more young people in outdoor activities.”
Throughout the year, Outdoor Nation awards grants through a competitive application and review process. Projects serve various audiences and activities including kayaking, photography, urban gardening, hiking, painting, biking, environmental education and map and compass skills.
“My vision for this program is to provide outdoor experiences for youth that they would not otherwise be able to participate in,” said Grace Fortune.
“This will connect them to their environment and will allow them to learn skills that will enable them to continue adventuring for a lifetime.”
Outdoor Nation is an initiative of the Outdoor FOundation and was founded with initial support from The North Face, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The REI Foundation, The Conservation Fund and the National Park Service.