It's been an interesting last few months. And what's on the horizon remains to be seen. Given the current political, cultural, economic and environmental landscape, we caught up with our Executive Director and founder to get her thoughts on what it will all mean for OTA's future.
OTA: To put it bluntly, the past few months have been a political circus. How do you think this will affect OTA in 2017?
Elyse: Admittedly, at first I was terrified about what the election results would mean for OTA. However, in the past few months I have become increasingly optimistic. No organization is successful without the support of its community, and since November the support has been pouring in from not only our city, but also regionally and nationally. While there is a lot of negativity being promoted by a certain facet of society, the generosity, compassion and love put forth by the rest will outweigh it.
OTA: Looking ahead to the rest of 2017, what are your goals for OTA?
Elyse: As always, I have many goals for OTA. Programmatically we aim to get over 60 queer young people outside for more than 8,000 hours of adventuring. Financially we want the organization to be the most financially stable it has ever been. This means our goal is to raise at least $50,000 in the next 11 months.
OTA: Wow! Those are exciting goals. How will you achieve them?
Elyse: They are exciting indeed. We will achieve through both old and new ways. The old ways include following our great mission, a lot of hard work and appreciating the small victories. The new ways include things like different fundraising strategies, expanding our Board of Directors and increasing our program partnerships.
OTA: Speaking of partnerships, what partnerships do you have planned for 2017?
Elyse: Officially, we have three partnerships for 2017. The first is our collaboration with OUT For Sustainability, a queer-focused environmental and social sustainability organization, on April 29th for an event called "Earth Gay". From 9am to 1pm we will be helping to improve and recreating in Seattle green space. Later on in the summer we will be partnering with Northwest Youth Corps for the first ever queer youth trail crew. For five weeks in July and August eight 16 to 18 year old queer young people will help complete restoration projects on San Juan Island. The crew will not only gain skills needed to enter in to the outdoor industry, but they will also be compensated AND have the opportunity to go on a week long kayaking trip throughout the San Juan Islands. The third partnership is with the National Outdoor Leadership School and their Gateway Program. Through this program one of OTA's first ever trip participants will be participating as a student on a 30 day NOLS course. Currently he is leaning towards the Australian backpacking course. We are extremely excited to support him through this life changing opportunity. Lastly, we are always looking for ways to better connect with youth organizations and school groups.
OTA: That all sounds awesome! On another note, you were recently named as one of the outdoor industry's "Best and Brightest" by Outdoor Retailer. Congrats! I assume that was incredibly exciting.
Elyse: I am honored to be named with many other game changers in the outdoor industry. Beyond personal gratification though I am most excited about the visibility and validation it will garner for OTA. What we have been able to achieve with such limited resources and in such a short time is amazing to say the least, and I am hopeful that publicity like being named on the "Best and Brightest" list will further our ability to achieve our goals.
OTA: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. It's always great to learn more about what's going on under OTA's hood.
Elyse: Absolutely. It's always great to get the word out.