Impact and Programs
In 2021, more than 17,000 people joined Wilderness Inquiry for immersive and life-changing outdoor experiences. Our programs provide opportunities for outdoor engagement while supporting our community in the following ways: Inclusion and Connection: Wilderness Inquiry’s mission is designed to build community in the outdoors, fostering social inclusion and integration. Through COVID-19, social connection has become an important means for maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing. Confidence and Skill Building: The novel challenges of outdoor adventure are an ideal setting for participants to discover an increased belief in their own abilities and the abilities of others. 80% of participants report an increased appreciation of their own talents and 70% say they are more likely to pursue challenges in their everyday lives. Academic and Social Success: Canoemobile and our youth programs are designed in partnership with educators to align with academic standards, engage youth with diverse learning styles, and provide place-based educational opportunities for underserved youth. Results show that Wilderness Inquiry’s in-person youth experiences lead to a statistically significant increase in developing persistence, environmental stewardship, and an interest in future science exploration and careers among youth participants. Access to the Outdoors: Breaking down barriers to outdoor access is at the heart of ensuring that everyone belongs in the outdoors, yet many of the communities we serve face barriers to outdoor participation. Our mission is deeply aligned with the push to confront these barriers head-on, working to build equitable opportunities for everyone and facilitate equal access to the outdoors.
Wilderness Inquiry's goal is to promote equity in access to outdoor activities, spaces and careers. Our inclusive programs provide outdoor education and recreation opportunities for thousands of participants annually with intentional focus on serving individuals and communities that face barriers to outdoor participation, including individuals with disabilities, those who identify as BIPOC and youth and families from low-income backgrounds. In 2022, we will connect 22,000 people to inclusive outdoor experiences that increate community integration, improve health and academic outcomes and inspire a deep connection to the outdoors. In order to achieve this, Wilderness Inquiry will inspire personal growth and create inclusive communities through shared outdoor adventures, develop a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access strategic goal and integrate this in our programming, increase access to high-quality, hands-on educational content with an outdoor focus for youth and young adults from all backgrounds, provide accessible programs and opportunities for connecting to the outdoors and each other. We strive to ensure that we break down barriers that may be specific to people with disabilities, and promote connections to community through integrated programs and outdoor activities, supporting social inclusion and reducing social isolation.
Community or Constituency Served
Through our mission, we strive to ensure that everyone belongs in the outdoors. We do this by providing inclusive and supported programs that engage individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities in outdoor experiences that promote community integration. Approximately 80% of participants are under the age of 21; 61% of participants experience financial inequity; 57% of participants are girls/women; 48% of participants identify as a person of color; and 12% of participants identify as having a disability.
Geographic Area Served
Across the past 10 years, approximately 60% of participants have been from Minnesota, with 40% from other states. Most Minnesota participants live in the Twin Cities metro area. Programmatically, Wilderness Inquiry offers inclusive experiences across the country and around the world, with popular destinations including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the Mississippi River, Yellowstone National Park, and many others. We also provide extensive programming in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Our Canoemobile program visits more than 50 communities nationally, introducing urban youth to environmental literacy on urban waterways close to home. We also offer virtual programs that are available to people regardless of geography.