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November 21 2011

Video and Recap of Our 2011 Connector Award Event

Video and recap of our 2011 Connector Award Event featuring Outdoor Afro's Rue Mapp and Connector Award honoree Washington Trails Association.

We are forever amazed by the wonderful organizations we work with. To honor the incredible work in our community, we are starting a new tradition of presenting one of our partners with the Groundwire Connector Award for Engagement Leadership. The first recipient of this award is the Washington Trails Association.

Earlier this month we held the 2011 Connector Award Event to celebrate the power of connection for social and environmental change. We wanted to formally raise a glass to the awesomeness of Washington Trails Association. We invited Outdoor Afro’s Rue Mapp to be our keynote speaker and share how she is using engagement technology to reconnect African Americans with the great outdoors. We are also expanding our mission and wanted to share that we are now bringing our engagement technology to new sectors, new organizations and new communities.

When we started 16 years ago, nonprofits were just beginning to discover the power of the internet. We helped environmental organizations get wired and connected. Fast forward to today and we are a leading engagement organization made up of expert strategists, web developers and the best Salesforce.com database consultant team around.

Over the last year we have been asking peers and stakeholders to help us figure out how we can use our passion, experience and skills to have even greater impact.

Listen to our Executive Director Neal Myrick talk more about expanding our mission:

Here in the Northwest, we have been lucky to live in Ecotopia where our environmental nonprofit community is powerful and progress has been made. The community is strong in part because foundations like Bullitt, Brainerd, Wilburforce, Russell Family, Campion, Social Venture Partners and others have invested not just in programs but in nonprofits' infrastructure and capacity.  Our 2011 Connector Award recipient Washington Trails Association is one of these nonprofits.

Over the past five years we have worked with Washington Trails Association to build the very best online engagement technology. At the center is their incredible database of 3,000 hiking trails that include over 35,000 trip reports from their community of hikers – who can quickly find out if roads are closed, if wildflowers are out, if trails are crowded or if animals are welcome.

Listen to Neal share a sweet story of using the WTA hiking guide to get outside with his three year old son.

WTA website traffic has tripled since the launch of their new online hiking guide. It now receives more than two million visits annually from nearly one million unique visitors. The more than 35,000 trip reports from the user community and the exceptional WTA staff writers and editors keep the content fresh and relevant. Integration with Facebook allows stories to be told not just within the local community of hikers but with a global community of friends and accounts for more than 100,000 visitors to the site each year.

All of these online numbers really make a difference when hikers engage offline by volunteering for trail maintenance programs or by advocating for trails both locally and nationally.

We are proud to honor WTA with our 2011 Connector Award for Engagement Leadership. Listen to this great acceptance for WTA by Communications Director Lauren Braden:

To celebrate our Connector Award, we were honored to have Outdoor Afro’s Rue Mapp as our keynote speaker. Rue is a program officer at the Foundation for Youth Investment where she oversees funding to support California organizations that are connecting underserved youth to the outdoors. She is the mother of three and an active outdoor enthusiast. She was named the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Champion of the Month in September, is on the National Parks Services Committee on relevance, participated in the White House conference on America's Great Outdoors and on Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. In short, she is super busy.

In 2009 Rue founded Outdoor Afro, an online community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening, skiing and more. Like Washington Trails Association, Outdoor Afro has fostered a community that has voice, strength, and power. 

Listen to Rue’s inspiring keynote:

Thanks to all of you who made this event and our Connector Fall email campaign such a success. Thanks to the generous support of our event sponsors, an incredible matching gift from Gideon and C.J. Rosenblatt, and individual donors like many of you reading this we raised almost $75,000.  We are so excited to get to work engaging even more people in the fight for thriving communities and a healthy planet.