On October 13, NOLS presented the group’s annual Stewardship Award to Jessica Wahl, government affairs manager for the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). The NOLS Stewardship Award, given annually since 1990, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional stewardship of public lands and the environment.
NOLS chose to honor Wahl this year due to her diligence in championing bills on commercial permitting, in building bridges between outfitters and key influencers in the federal government and in developing close relationships with top agency permitting personnel. Also, as a co-founder and original co-chair of the Coalition for Outdoor Access, Wahl has demonstrated exceptional adeptness at navigating the complex terrain between nonprofit commercial outfitters and finding initiatives that can enjoy broad support.
“I’m honored to be recognized with the Stewardship Award from NOLS, an organization I truly admire and enjoy working with,” said Wahl. “Relationship building is key to my work in Washington, where many important issues can get bogged down when there is not a connection or relationship to keep parties at the same table and in dialogue with each other. Through my work with NOLS and dozens of other organizations who get people on to public lands, I have learned endless lessons about compromise, finding the common denominator, and searching for the collective good that I will carry with me throughout my career. Thank you again for this honor and the difference your organization makes in people’s lives each and every day.”
More generally, Wahl promotes OIA’s recreation policy goals, focusing on securing increased funding, access and infrastructure for outdoor recreation and promoting the outdoor industry agenda in Washington, D.C. She plays a key role in policy development and analysis, political engagement and grassroots organizing. Wahl comes to OIA from the Department of the Interior (DOI), where she worked in the Office of the Secretary on external affairs and youth engagement in the outdoors. Wahl also managed the first lady’s Let’s Move Outside! and Let’s Move! In Indian Country initiatives on behalf of the DOI and other agencies.
“Jessica Wahl is a convener and a driver and has become an important voice on capitol hill for outfitter interests,” said Aaron Bannon, NOLS environmental stewardship director. “She is a great partner for NOLS and an advocate for our issues. I am honored to present her with one of NOLS’ most prestigious awards.”