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VOBA and Powered Magazine partner in media project focused on outdoor recreation and careers for BIPOC Vermonters

October 13, 2022

Summer and fall guided outings build skills and showcase opportunities in outdoor jobs

Montpelier, Vt. (October 13, 2022) /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) and Powered Magazine have partnered on a media project to magnify and amplify opportunities in the outdoors and the workplace for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Vermonters.

This summer and fall, the organizations collaborated with the state of Vermont, outdoor brands, and organizations on outings and multimedia storytelling that focused on BIPOC communities in outdoor recreation, and also shined a spotlight on outdoor sector career opportunities in Vermont.

“Our shared goal is to advance a vision for equitable access for all in outdoor spaces and outdoor work places,” said Kelly Ault, executive director of VOBA. “Through excursions and instruction, interviews with outdoor professionals, and storytelling that connects people, places, products, and professions, we hope to show what is possible if we work together.”

“Time comfortably engaged in outdoor activities improves mental, physical, and social health, and is an investment toward creating healthier and financially sustainable communities. However, BIPOC community members continue to be under-represented, under-resourced, and under-acknowledged in the outdoors due to community norms and individual perceptions that exclude and oppress those who are visually seen as other,” said Sung-Hee Chung, executive director of Powered Magazine. “Change is possible when we work together in partnerships and begin with visual representation. Projects like this show representation of BIPOC Vermonters living, working, and recreating in the outdoor sector, and begin to normalize the landscape with BIPOC in it and create a comfortable outdoors for all.”

A key to the success of the partnership was the involvement of Vermont outdoor businesses and organizations sincerely committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. Outdoor facility space, gear and accessories, and instruction were provided for BIPOC groups enjoying e-biking, hiking, birding, rock climbing, and biking on the Island Line Rail Trail in Burlington and fly fishing and sculling on the West River in Brattleboro. Brands and organizations in the collaboration included Turtle Fur, Darn Tough Vermont, Petra Cliffs Climbing Center and Mountaineering School, Local Motion, Audubon Vermont, Orvis, Concept 2, Row Brattleboro Outing Club, and guide Robert Johnson III.

“We feel very fortunate to be a part of this project as it was a real opportunity to create an inclusive space in outdoor adventuring,” said Torie Reynolds, senior brand marketing manager of Turtle Fur. “The images really show the joy that an event like this creates.”

Many of the BIPOC participants acknowledged that the support provided during the outings led to a positive experience.

Powered Magazine has given me a space to try new things and be unafraid. Being in community with other BIPOC has helped me accept who I am and where I am in my outdoor recreation journey unapologetically,” said participant Julissa Vesely. ”It’s given me a home.”

“I’ve never done anything like fly fishing before. It was a new experience that gave me peace and allowed me to take a pause from my regular fast paced life,” said participant Jessie Anderson. “I wouldn’t have been able to have this otherwise. The experience of being in a community where I felt safe made it easier to find joy in the outdoors.”

Professional photographer Ming Poon and Irving Payne from Modaja Communications took images and videos during the outings.

“As a mixed race person who grew up in Vermont enjoying the outdoors, I love seeing and being a part of getting more BIPOC communities into the outdoors,” said photographer Ming Poon. “It is also a joy to see these same people share their experiences with family and friends and plan for future adventures.”

The project was supported by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM), which is committed to identify, remove, and reform barriers that prevent people of all backgrounds and abilities from connecting with Vermont as a tourism destination.

“This was a great opportunity and partnership that we were thrilled to be able to support,” said Heather Pelham, commissioner of VDTM. “Outdoor recreation and the tourism and hospitality sector are critical to the state’s economy. Partnerships like this allow us to develop a more welcoming experience for those interested in exploring all Vermont has to offer.”

The VDTM, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) supported the project through a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission and USDA Rural Development intended to support the growth of the outdoor recreation economy through targeted marketing efforts.

“We know we have work to do, as a state and as an industry, to welcome more people to the outdoors. From recreation to employment to representation…the outdoor industry can do better,” said Courtney Laggner, brand and community marketing manager of Darn Tough Vermont. “We believe that by being involved in events like this and capturing these stories, we’re helping to show what a truly inclusive outdoor economy can look like in Vermont.”

About the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance

The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) is a nonprofit business organization with a mission to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation and to educate Vermont outdoor recreation businesses about business development initiatives, collaboration opportunities and outdoor recreation economy policy. One of VOBA’s priorities is to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) for under-represented communities in outdoor work places and outdoor spaces, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, all ability, and women communities. VOBA’s JEDI work includes mission integration, facilitating change within the outdoor sector, and building community partnerships. For more information visit VermontOutdoorBusinessAlliance.org.

About Powered Magazine

Powered Magazine, by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, is the nonprofit organization in Vermont striving to build equitable outdoor spaces for all and is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous, People of Color through increasing access to the great outdoors and creating opportunities to engage in outdoor activities. At Powered Magazine we create and develop a safe, comfortable, and supported environment to learn, experience, and build skills and confidence to engage in outdoor recreation. It means empowering BIPOC to take up space in the outdoors confidently and share the joy of being outdoors.

About Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing

The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing is committed to identify, remove, and reform barriers that prevent people of all backgrounds and abilities from connecting with Vermont as a tourism destination. With an awareness that we are on the land of ancestral stewards, we know the important role that government has to increase meaningful inclusion and representation. We recognize that there is much work to do, and we are committed to being a leader and collaborator on local and statewide efforts to advance equity and accessibility in Vermont. For more information visit vermontvacation.com/ and thinkvermont.com/

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Media Contact: Kelly Ault, Executive Director, Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance

kelly@vermontoutdoorbusinessalliance.org