The Outdoor Industry Association has arranged for the heads of The Conservation Fund and The Audubon Society to present a seminar at the Outdoor Retailer show that will address cultivating a new generation of stewards for the outdoors.

The seminar, which will be held Saturday, Aug. 9, from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Downtown Marriott in Salt Lake City, will be moderated by Steve Rendle, CEO of The North Face. It will feature panelists Larry Selzer, president of The Conservation Fund and John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society.


The panelists will share examples of programs that introduce youth to the outdoors, allowing them to explore and develop an appreciation for wild lands and waterways and the creatures that inhabit them. The seminar will also include a Q and A with the audience.

“The outdoor industry needs to build appreciation for all outdoor places – from iconic wild lands like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the 1/8-acre restored lot in Brooklyn,” commented Larry Selzer, “Both are powerful and important in engaging people in the outdoors and developing future stewards of the environment. To motivate urban children to visit and relate to Yellowstone National Park is a gigantic leap. We need to start small and take many steps to bring them along.”

Mr. Selzer is president and CEO of The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit organization that has protected more than six million acres since 1985. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Bird Conservancy and the Wildlife Habitat Council.

“When it comes time to make hard choices, people fight to protect the things they really value,” said John Flicker, who has lead the Audobon Society since 1995. “Conservation will only work if people care about and value nature. We have learned over the years that direct experiences in nature are the best, if not the only way for people to gain a genuine and lasting appreciation of the environment we share with birds and other wildlife. The outdoor industry plays a crucial role in making those experiences accessible and enjoyable for more people.”

One of Flicker's passions and a key priority for Audubon is connecting people with nature, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas. To achieve this goal and as part of Audubon's effort to engage broader and more diverse audiences, John Flicker has overseen the addition of over two dozen Audubon Centers, including 10 in urban areas such as Los Angeles and Brooklyn. He envisions each center as the environmental equivalent of a local library, serving as a community resource for enjoying and learning about nature, and a hands-on laboratory for building environmental stewardship.

“The health of our wild lands is intertwined with the health of our children, our industry and our country,” commented Frank Hugelmeyer, president of OIA, “It is up to us as an industry to do our part to not only ensure these areas are healthy for future generations to enjoy but to make sure we are introducing today's youth to the joy and wonderment of the outdoors.”

“We are pleased to be working with OIA to help bring these leaders in conservation to Salt Lake City to share their learnings with us,” remarked John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “North America's wild places are at risk, and our industry can play a meaningful role in preserving these areas for their habitat and recreational values by working together to develop our future stewards of the environment.”