On Memorial Day weekend, the traditional beginning of summer, thousands of New Mexicans head out to soak up the sun, water, and land of this enchanted place.
Many people live here just to go outside on a whim. In their free time, they hike through forests, fish in cold streams or sleep under the starry sky. Strolling outdoors is free, but gasoline for your car or truck, decent walking shoes, or a sleeping bag to keep the cold out all cost money.
Not all of our neighbors have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities to the fullest. Children can grow up in families with no access to hiking, camping, and fishing, the joys of life so many New Mexicans appreciate.
It is for this reason that the state-owned Outdoor Equity Fund was established in legislation and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Founded by Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, the fund was designed to attract children outdoors and to transform “the opportunities and accessibility for myriad teens in New Mexico.”
This is a means of ensuring that young people of all backgrounds can participate in activities that take them outside to appreciate the abundance of nature. The 2020 Outdoor Equity Fund awarded approximately $ 270,000 to 25 applicants across the state. Using COVID-19 security methods, the groups were able to take 2,700 children outside. From tribal groups to nonprofits to cities, scholars have helped empower young people to find ways to appreciate nature and target the kinds of experiences that make a difference.
These groups do everything from children fishing to farming children to teaching about the flora and fauna of an area.
A previous recipient showed children the job of caring for an acequia, an important skill that is at risk of being lost.
The fund now offers joy and education and at the same time plants ideas for the future.
A child who learns to love the outdoors while hiking may be interested in a career in forest management or as a naturalist. Other children could grow up to become part of New Mexico’s growing outdoor recreational economy, whether running a rafting company, working as guides, or teaching others how to fly fish.
Others simply become adults with a deep appreciation for the natural world that they pass on to their children. You develop respect for nature and science.
In a world where a climate crisis is unfolding, this knowledge benefits society as a whole.
84 applicants took part in the first round of scholarships. This was just the beginning, however – groups are invited to apply for grants for fiscal year 2022 by June 30th.
During the pandemic year, people learned the importance of fresh air to others who were told to stay indoors and avoid social contact. Research has shown that the coronavirus is difficult to transmit outdoors. Taking children into nature provides human contact with low risk of spreading the coronavirus.
To an adventurous life that begins in childhood. Such opportunities are available to everyone with the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund.