Cross-Sector Coalition Comes Together to Help Create a More Welcoming & Inclusive Outdoors
Outdoor Recreation Roundtable teams with industry leaders to foster access and inclusion in the recreation economy
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2021 (Newswire.com) - The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) has partnered with THOR Industries (NYSE: THO), one of the world's largest manufacturers of recreational vehicles, to establish a coalition to help ensure everyone feels welcome in all facets of outdoor recreation activities - from camping and fishing to boating, off-roading, archery and beyond.
The Together Outdoors coalition is being established to support and equip the recreation economy in raising awareness of equity and inclusion issues in outdoor experiences and provide education and awareness to help eliminate existing barriers. Open to cross-sector participation, the Together Outdoors coalition will provide training, resources, grants and other ways for manufacturers, retailers, service providers, stakeholders and individuals in the outdoor industry to support the advancement of equity and inclusion in all forms of outdoor recreation and connect with advocacy groups. THOR is funding the development, creation and initial operations of the coalition as part of a multi-year commitment.
"Maximizing access to outdoor recreation is a core objective of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable," said Lindsey Davis, Vice President of ORR. "Achieving that goal requires more than building infrastructure and creating new parks - it also means enacting policies and partnerships that ensure inclusivity and access to all Americans - no matter who they are or where they live. ORR is proud to be part of this important initiative and we look forward to helping to build Together Outdoors to ensure welcoming and equitable access to outdoor recreation."
"We've listened and heard many of the deep and long-running concerns and obstacles underrepresented groups face when pursuing outdoor adventure," said Bob Martin, THOR President and CEO. "Enjoying and appreciating nature is important for health and mental well-being and should be welcoming places for everyone. THOR is committed to helping advance outdoor equity and inclusion, so all feel welcome to Go Everywhere and Stay Anywhere."
The groundwork for the coalition started last year through listening sessions THOR Industries conducted with under-represented individuals in the outdoors and other Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) leaders. Based on their lived experiences, the common learning was that under-represented people often feel unwelcome in the outdoors. With increased awareness and understanding, THOR partnered with ORR to establish a coalition to help impact all sectors of outdoor recreation. The coalition has been and will continue to be designed, operated and informed by close partnerships with experts and others on the frontlines of creating a more inclusive outdoor experience for all.
"The work of diversifying the outdoors is only measurable by the individuals and orgs committed to making it happen. It is not easy, as it demands action, not just words. I'm happy to see THOR join the efforts of so many others, by engaging its partners and community in this work, this is how we make progress. I look forward to seeing this coalition in action." - Teresa Baker, Founder of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge
The Together Outdoors' coalition will be shaped by input from an advisory committee of grassroots organizers and advocates with deep experience in the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in their pursuit of outdoor recreation and adventure, along with input from outdoor business leaders, federal agencies and conservation organizations.
The coalition recently completed an extensive national search with fantastic candidates for a full-time outdoor DEI leader, and is excited to have Gerry Seavo James leading the effort. Gerry comes from a multigenerational military family and is based in Kentucky, where he's led broad efforts promoting exploration throughout the state to connect important stakeholders in rural and urban areas and foster inclusion and representation of minorities and people of color. He sees diversifying the outdoors as essential to mental health, economic development, and for creating environmental advocates, and is ready to lead this effort on a national scale.
"As a J.E.D.I (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) advocate and founder of a small outdoor recreation and environmental social enterprise, I've seen the positive impact outdoor recreation has on public health, natural resource protection, leadership development, and advancement of a future fueled by sustainability. I'm excited to be part of such a transformative project that will continue the process of the outdoor industry taking deep and intentional steps to center diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation," said Gerry Seavo James, Coalition Lead for Together Outdoors.
The following organizations have committed to joining the Together Outdoors coalition: National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Forest Foundation, Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, Brunswick, Simms Fishing Products, Archery Trade Association, The Recreate Responsibly Coalition, Hipcamp, The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Airstream, Inc., Go Camping America, THOR Industries, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and TOGO Group.
"As outdoor recreation leaders, we play a key role in ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities to access and enjoy the outdoors," said Erik Pritchard, President and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council. "Through the Together Outdoors Coalition, we can amplify our efforts with cross-sector industries to help make outdoor experiences inclusive and truly welcoming to all."
"Fishing has the power to unite people, heal our bodies and minds, relieve stress, and develop character," states Diane Bristol, Senior Director, Employee & Community Engagement for Simms Fishing Products. "Everyone should have access to these advantages, which means we welcome all anglers, no matter the gear in their quiver - or their ability, race, gender, religion, nationality or political ideology."
"Everyone in America deserves to feel welcome in the outdoors. The Recreate Responsibly coalition and its more than 1200 members are thrilled to see this effort to build a more inclusive outdoors through the Together Outdoors coalition. In the past year, as millions of people have enjoyed outdoor recreation, it is more important than ever that the outdoor industry, manufacturers, local leaders, and nonprofits work together to create a more inclusive and welcoming outdoor experience," said Tania Lown-Hecht, Recreate Responsibly Coalition Co-Founder.
"At the National Forest Foundation, we believe that public lands, and all that they offer, are an American treasure and are vital to the health of our communities," said Mary Mitsos, President and CEO of the National Forest Foundation. "We understand the importance of ensuring these lands are safe, accessible, and inclusive to all Americans. Joining the Together Outdoors coalition will allow us to increase our impact while promoting diverse representation and stewardship within our National Forests and Grasslands."
"Representing privately-owned RV parks/resorts, campgrounds and glamping businesses across North America, we are proud to join the Together Outdoors partnership to enhance the experience for all RVers and campers," says Paul Bambei, president and CEO of The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. "Interest in RVing and camping is growing with every minority group — and we want to see them camping even more — so joining this coalition is just one of the many ways ARVC is helping our members create memorable experiences, ensuring everyone, no matter their background, feels welcome and comfortable enjoying the outdoors."
"Our public lands and waters are open to everyone, and the recreational boating industry is committed to ensuring the great outdoors are an inclusive, safe, and welcome place for all," said Kate Plush, vice president of human resources at the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). "We look forward to working with our coalition partners as we step up our efforts to eliminate all barriers to outdoor recreation across the country."
"Bowhunting connects people to the outdoors and their table in a very personal and intimate way," said Matt Kormann, CEO of the Archery Trade Association. "Anyone should be able to experience this profound opportunity without limitation. We recognize, support and are committed to the work that is necessary to ensure that everyone feels welcome and safe whether entering the woods or a shop."
"At Hipcamp, we believe that in order to get more people outside, the outdoors must be safe, accessible, and inclusive for everyone, especially underrepresented communities," said Hipcamp CEO and Founder, Alyssa Ravasio. "We're eager to join Together Outdoors to provide training and other resources to create a more inclusive outdoor experience."
For more information and to learn how be a part of Together Outdoors, please visit TogetherOutdoors.com
Media Contact: Cody Wertz, Co-Founder at Freestone Strategies. Email at email@example.com
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable promotes the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and outdoor recreation activities and is the leading recreation coalition with 33-member associations serving over 110,000 businesses. ORR's members represent America's hunting, fishing, RVing, biking, hiking, camping, ATVing, diving, horseback and skiing communities among many more.
Source: Outdoor Recreation Roundtable