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Contact: Faye Walmsley, 573-323-4844
VAN BUREN, MO: The Outdoor Foundation and Outdoor Nation recently awarded Missouri State University’s Outdoor Recreation Department a Paddle Nation grant to increase paddle sport recreation among outdoor recreation students and enhance safety and education for visitors floating the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers.
The volunteer River Patrol Program is a grassroots partnership between Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Missouri State University Outdoor Recreation to support the National Park Service staff and park visitors. Outdoor Recreation students are required to complete practicum and internship credits in their field to graduate. The park’s developing River Patrol program is a venue for the students to meet these requirements, gain leadership skills in the outdoor recreation field, encourage paddle sport participation, and provide safety and educational services to the more than one million visitors recreating on the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers.
In volunteer uniforms, recreation students will be the extra eyes and ears on the rivers to assist National Park Service employees, while providing visitor information on safety, the park’s resources, Leave No Trace principles, and basic canoe and kayak skills. The goal between the two organizations is safety education and enhancing the visitor enjoyment and experience of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. “This grant provides a win-win opportunity between the park and the university,” states Superintendent Bill Black. “With our students providing more safety and education for Ozark Riverways visitors, we hope that students along with the public gain positive experiences and enjoyment of the Ozark’s great natural resources. We are excited to implement our classroom knowledge and hands-on training for the good of our citizens,” explains Amanda Ehrhardt from MSU Outdoor Recreation.
“Small grant programs, like this one, activate a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts,” states Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, the organization that runs Outdoor Nation. “Thanks to the generosity of Outdoor Retailers and the National Park Service, thousands of young people across the country will explore rivers, lakes and streams through a variety of activities – resulting in a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards.”
Since its inception, the Paddle National partners have awarded more than $125,000 in support of 55 innovative projects. The results speak for themselves. By year’s end, the program will engage more than 8,000 people in paddle sport activities – resulting in more than 25,000 hours spent on the water.
Outdoor Nation is committed to increasing and expanding youth participation in outdoor recreation through education, engagement and action in order to cultivate a healthier, more active generation. For more information on Outdoor Nation grants program, visit www.outdoornation.org/grants.