Otero County Orgs Grant Money Awarded


The New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD), a division of the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD), announced the award recipients of the Outdoor Equity Fund (OEF) for the 2022 grant cycle.

The first-of-its-kind OEF was created to enable all New Mexican youth equitable access to the outdoors. The grant supports programming that provides outdoor experiences that foster stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s land, water, and cultural heritage.

Two Otero County Organizations qualified for grants out of the $800,000 awarded this cycle:

Friends of La Luz Range (FOLLR) a state grant of $20,000.00 in Otero County for the state of New Mexico.

 Per the grant FOLLR will provide standardized instruction to students about the identification, handling, use, storage, care, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment as it pertains to hunting in the forests in New Mexico. The students attend classroom instruction provided by certified instructors who oversee practical application of the use of firearms and archery equipment on the shooting range.

Public Lands Interpretive Association received $15,000.00 in Otero County. 

The Whiptail Trails Club empowers seventh and eighth-grade students to learn about southern New Mexico’s public lands. It provides in-class visits and field trips to more than 200 students in rural areas outside of Las Cruces. In addition, the program will provide camping experiences for 15 girls that offer outdoor skills training such as how to read a map, how to pack a backpack successfully, and basic first aid.

Since Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Outdoor Equity Fund into law in April 2019, the program has granted $2 million to 130 organizations throughout the state. These local leaders, working in cultural, recreational, and environmental fields, are actively introducing over 37,000 young New Mexicans to the outdoors through day hikes, bike rides, camping trips, whitewater adventures, acequia irrigation, and more. For many of these youth, all 18 and younger, these transformational outdoor experiences are the first time they’ve participated in these kinds of outdoor recreation.

“New Mexico pioneered the Outdoor Equity Fund in 2019 when Gov. Lujan Grisham signed this innovative, first-of-a-kind program into law,” EDD Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “I’m so proud to continue supporting this next generation of outdoor industry leaders.”

ORD is especially grateful to the reviewers and evaluation committee that spent hours analyzing and scoring the applications:

  • Kay Bounkeua - New Mexico Deputy Director, The Wilderness Society
  • Rachel Swanteson-Franz - Urban to Wild Specialist, The Wilderness Society
  • Angel Pena – Executive Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project
  • Olivia Jensen – Operations Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project
  • Gabaccia Moreno – National Monuments, WYSS Fellow
  • Christy Tafoya - Retired Director, New Mexico State Parks; Owner, Christy Tafoya Consulting, LLC.
  • Shani Harvie – Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator, EDD
  • Carl Colonius – Outdoor Recreation Planner, ORD
  • Alyssa Renwick – Deputy Director, ORD

Private sponsors to the fund include the Wilderness Society, the Turner Foundation, The North Face, and REI, who have invested alongside the State of New Mexico in this innovative grant. Recently, the state invested $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to support the program and nurture the next generation of land and water stewards in New Mexico.

This year, 47 organizations were awarded grants ranging from $2,130 to $20,000. The total 2022 funding amounted to $795,133.28. The awardee list includes programs from 16 counties with 50 percent supporting Tribal, rural, and/or land grant communities. The awarded groups will bring 12,221 young New Mexicans hiking, biking, camping, hunting, and more, from now through 2023.

“There are some truly incredible programs in this third round of Outdoor Equity Fund grants,” Axie Navas, ORD director, said. “Other states, and the country as a whole, are paying attention to the grassroots outdoor equity work happening in New Mexico. We are leading the way.”

“The New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund (OEF) has been leading the nation in investing in increasing equitable access for our youth to the outdoors,” Ángel Peña, Executive Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, said. “This year’s grant recipient cohort is one of the largest so far, strengthening our state’s ability to tackle the complex, intersecting barriers that limit underserved youths' ability to enjoy the outdoors. Programs reaching undocumented youth, Indigenous youth, and youth with disabilities, make this grantee cohort one of the most impactful and diverse so far. Nuestra Tierra is honored and always excited to have participated in this year's OEF distribution process and looks forward to seeing the long-term impact these programs will create for New Mexico's youth.”

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