Local school, non-profit group gain state Outdoor Equity Fund grants for youth programs

The Daily Times Staff
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – Two San Juan County-based organizations will benefit from the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division’s Outdoor Equity Fund grants, which were distributed from $795,133.28 set aside to help connect kids to nature and appreciate cultural heritage.

“The first-of-its-kind OEF was created to enable all New Mexican youth equitable access to the outdoors,” a joint state news release stated. “The grant supports programming that provides outdoor experiences that foster stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s land, water, and cultural heritage.”

There were 47 organizations selected this year for grants ranging from $2,130 to $20,000. The total 2022 funding amounted to $795,133.28, the release stated.

“The awardee list includes programs from 16 counties with 50 percent supporting Tribal, rural, and/or land grant communities,” the release noted. “The awarded groups will bring 12,221 young New Mexicans hiking, biking, camping, hunting, and more, from now through 2023.”

Diné Introspective Incorporated of San Juan County received $20,000.

"We are a Native-led and Native operated organization," the group's website said of the non-profit 501(c)3 community based organization. "We are composed of young Natives, farmers, scholars, educators, and community organizers in the Navajo Nation."

The group's mission statement is, "Strengthening Indigenous communities and families through revitalizing our identity, resilience, and ancestral knowledge to sustain a healthy lifestyle."

“Diné outdoors provides Indigenous youth in the Four Corners region the opportunity to go rafting the San Juan River,” the state's news release said. “Their Indigenous river guides teach youth to reclaim and revitalize their ancestral roots by visiting cultural sites, learning the importance of all life of the water, animals, and plants, and providing Indigenous knowledge in rafting, ancestral stories, and Diné language.”

The Mosaic Academy, a public, district-authorized charter school in Aztec, also received $20,000.

“Students will combine elements of STEAM to become curious about their local environment through natural study of the landscape,” the release said. “The school provides the perfect opportunity to use elements of science, art, and outdoor gardening to have students design their own outdoor space. Additionally, they plan to expand students' understanding of their natural environment by conducting bike rides through the seasons. This will help them to track the ever-changing desert landscape.”

Alicia J. Keyes

The grant program is part of New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division, which is overseen by the Economic Development Department.

“New Mexico pioneered the Outdoor Equity Fund in 2019 when Gov. Lujan Grisham signed this innovative, first-of-a-kind program into law,” Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “I’m so proud to continue supporting this next generation of outdoor industry leaders.”