The recipients of the 13th annual Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards were unveiled at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer trade show, June 20, in Salt Lake City, with an advocate for Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness among the esteemed recipients.
Hosted by rock climber and outdoor advocate Timmy O’Neill, the ceremony recognized people and programs advocating for wild places, equitable access, and empowering more people to connect with the great outdoors. “The finalists and recipients this year are all dedicated to helping people of all backgrounds and abilities get outside. And they’re creating programs and products to make outdoor experiences more accessible, and as a result, improving lives,” says OR’s Sean Smith. “The outdoor industry understands that each act has the ability to inspire others to explore, protect, and build community in nature. We’re honored to celebrate those taking action, redefining business, and encouraging people to confidently get outside.”An independent judging panel determined the 2023 winners across five categories: individual, emerging leader, manufacturer, nonprofit organization, and retailer. And the drum roll, please, for this year’s recipients: Individual: Becky Rom Ten years ago, Becky Rom envisioned permanent protections for the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park, and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada by proactively banning copper mining in its headwaters. She built a successful movement she continues to lead as volunteer national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. A retired attorney, she also mentors youth and fundraises to protect America’s most-visited wilderness. Emerging Leader: Cassie Abel Cassie Abel launched Wild Rye to fill the gap she saw in mountain gear for women and created a line of women’s outdoor apparel to welcome women-identifying adventurers into the outdoors. She also founded Women-Led Wednesday, an annual shopping holiday to elevate women in business. She’s changing the narrative and dedicated to getting more women comfortable and confident outdoors. Manufacturer: BUFF BUFF is using business as a force for good. Since inception 30 years ago, BUFF remains committed to protecting the environment, producing responsibly, and pursuing the well-being of their employees and the communities they serve. BUFF’s “Do More Now” initiative represents an intention to act, protect, care, and share more now, and to make life for sports and outdoor lovers easier and more comfortable. Nonprofit: Adaptive Adventures Adaptive Adventures provides progressive outdoor sports opportunities to improve quality of life for children, adults, and veterans with physical disabilities and their families. By offering access to participation regardless of location, equipment needs, or economic status; and through working with manufacturers, retailers, and organizations; Adaptive Adventures is committed to cultivating inclusive communities where individuals can thrive. Retailer: Alpinistas Alpinistas exists to help make the outdoors more accessible to women. The online store retails top outdoor gear to women through a friendly shopping experience, along with providing educational programs, leading guided adventures, and funding scholarships to help teach outdoor skills. It’s all part of Alpinistas’ mission to encourage and empower women to explore the outdoors. The industry will gather again back in Salt Lake this November for Outdoor Retailer Winter from November 14-16, 2023, to kick off the fall/winter season.