Our Fifth Record Breaking Year in a Row
Wilderness Inquiry connected more than 37,000 people to nature, including more than 18,500 people of color and 3,600 people with disabilities, through 571 adventures and events– a new record! Highlights of our year include:
Canoemobile reached 32,000 people in more than 50 communities from coast to coast:
Canoemobile expanded throughout Minnesota with new school partnerships in Shakopee, Alexandria, Hutchinson, and White Bear Lake. Nationwide, Canoemobile visited new cities including Salt Lake City, UT; Columbia, PA; Akron, OH; Lodi, CA; and Grand Rapids, MI. In each location, Canoemobile engaged a wide range of people including urban youth, school superintendents, and mayors. Read more about Canoemobile’s impact across the country.
Wilderness Inquiry Wins Prestigious National Education Award:
The National Summer Learning Association awarded Canoemobile the 2017 New York Life Founder’s Award. The honor recognizes summer education programs that create innovative, diverse, and experiential learning opportunities for students. Canoemobile is recognized for providing meaningful and engaging learning experiences over the summer, when low-income students are disproportionately at risk for falling academically behind their high-income peers.
Provided Life-Changing Outdoor Opportunities for 3,600 People with Disabilities:
In 2017, we connected 3,600 people with disabilities to adventures in the outdoors. For example, Wilderness Inquiry and Living Well Communities ventured up to the Boundary Waters for winter dogsledding and snowshoeing. Last spring, a community-based transition program for young adults with disabilities in San Francisco paddled with Canoemobile on Lake Merced. Last summer, young adults from the Shriner’s Hospital of Minneapolis camped and kayaked with WI in the Apostle Islands.
Our staff witnessed many transformative moments. “There was a woman in a wheelchair who didn’t think it would be remotely possible for us to transfer her into a canoe,” said WI leader Sam Teragawa. “After we completed the transfer, her husband James was brought to tears. It was an extremely powerful experience for all of us.”
Prepared More than 90 Youth for Employment in the Outdoor Industry:
Wilderness Inquiry’s youth employment program prepared underserved and urban teens to become the next generation of outdoor industry leaders. In its second year of existence, the Outdoor Career Academy (OCA) introduced students ages 16 to 19 to employment opportunities and job training in the outdoor industry. Teens participated in hands-on courses and earned certificates in First Aid, CPR, and Leave No Trace ethics. They demonstrated teamwork and leadership as they learned canoeing and other outdoor skills. On a visit to the University of Minnesota students gained exposure to the possible next step in their education and careers.
Students left the experience inspired by the possibilities of an outdoor career. “I’m really surprised by all that this field has to offer,” said Te’Lisa, a senior at Face to Face Academy. “I’m excited about jobs that can support my love for nature.” Recent graduate Chu Xiong, pictured above, now works in the Wilderness Inquiry office.
WI Shares Our Public Lands with New Americans:
WI introduced 22,000 nontraditional outdoor users to the benefits of our local, state, and national park systems. In February, a group of Somali American boys from Ka Joog visited the Boundary Waters Wilderness to ski, snowshoe, and dogsled. In June, 26 students from the Houston-based nonprofit The Woods Project explored the Apostle Islands on a 15-day WI experience. In July, students and teachers from Edison High School in Minneapolis hiked the Beartooth Mountains in Montana with WI. After each trip, students shared how much the experience meant to them. “I’ll admit, kayaking for miles was pretty challenging, but the activities we did on this trip have been more than worth it,” said Marcus Tierrablanca of The Woods Project. “The other students and I have been able to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with Wilderness Inquiry.”
WI Leads People of All Ages, Backgrounds, and Abilities Around the World:
There is no greater expression of inclusion than choosing to recreate together. In 2017, WI led several trips across the globe, including to Iceland, Belize, and Uganda. Proceeds from these adventures support our programs for underserved youth. This year WI guided new adventures in Wisconsin, Montana, Uganda, Utah, and Iceland. In addition to new destinations, we’ve seen growth in our most popular trips. WI served 702 participants on our Apostle Islands trips from our Little Sand Bay Base Camp, up from 600 in 2016. We also led more than 120 people on trips in Yellowstone, up from 100 in 2016.
Our Fleet is Growing!
To keep up with our growing programs we purchased two new vans and increased our Voyageur canoe fleet to 30 boats. We still need more and have hired a staff person to maintain and expand our fleet of boats.
WI is Going Green!
To become more energy efficient, we’ve added LED lights to our headquarters and Apostle Islands basecamp. We’ve also made other energy-saving improvements, such as the installation of an energy efficient heating and cooling system. We have lots of roof space for solar panels!
WI Received $1.7 Million over 3-years to Connect Minnesota Children to our Outdoor Heritage through hands-on learning.
In 2017, WI received $1.2 million in funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to connect Minnesota students with their waterways and promote stewardship through citizen science and water quality monitoring. WI also received $500,000 from Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to help us show youth their home through a historical lens. In all, these funds will help us connect 27,500 students to local waterways over the next three years. This year alone, these two grants allowed us to connect more than 8,000 Minnesota youth to local waterways. Thanks to the Minnesota state legislators who came out to see our programs that benefit from this funding.
Check out this great video of these programs in action:
WI Highlighted in Media Across the Country:
Local papers ranging from the Michigan City News Dispatch to the Lodi News-Sentinel covered Canoemobile as it visited communities across the United States. Closer to home Wilderness Inquiry received great coverage too—including a Minnesota Monthly article on a Ka Joog trip to the Boundary Waters and a WCCO story on the Great River Race. To get a feel for some of the stories, watch the above video on how Canoemobile has had a profound effect on summer school students in Minnesota.
Earned Charity Navigator’s Coveted 4-Star Rating for the Seventh Time:
For the seventh time and third year in a row, WI earned Charity Navigator’s 4-star rating, the highest honor awarded. The 4-star rating means Wilderness Inquiry is accountable, transparent, and financially healthy.
We couldn’t have reached so many people without the support of our many partners and friends. We are very grateful to you and look forward to Sharing the Adventure with people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities in 2018, our 40th year of making a difference.
Thank you for your support!