San Juan County school and nonprofit group win state grants

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FARMINGTON — Two San Juan County-based organizations will benefit from New Mexico Division of Outdoor Recreation’s Outdoor Equity Fund grants, which were distributed from $795,133.28 set aside to help children connect with nature and appreciate cultural heritage.

“The first of its kind OEF was created to allow all young New Mexicans equal access to the outdoors,” a joint press release said. “The grant supports programs that provide outdoor experiences that promote stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s land, water, and cultural heritage.”

47 organizations were selected this year for grants ranging from $2,130 to $20,000. Total 2022 funding was $795,133.28, the statement said.

“The list of winners includes programs from 16 counties, 50% of which support tribal, rural and/or landholding communities, the statement said. “The award-winning groups will bring 12,221 young New Mexicans to hiking, biking, camping, hunting, and more by 2023.”

Diné Introspective Incorporated of San Juan County received $20,000.

“We are an Indigenous-led and managed organization,” the group’s website said of the community-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. “We are made up of Indigenous youth, farmers, d ‘Scholars, Educators and Community Organizers of the Navajo Nation.’

The group’s mission statement is: “Strengthening Indigenous communities and families by revitalizing our identity, resilience and ancestral knowledge to sustain a healthy way of life.”

“Dined Outdoors provides Native youth in the Four Corners area the opportunity to raft the San Juan River,” the state’s press release reads. “Their Indigenous River Guides teach youth to reclaim and revitalize their ancestral roots by visiting cultural sites, learning about the importance of all water, animal and plant life, and providing Indigenous knowledge about the rafting, ancestral stories and the Diné language.

Mosaic Academy, an Aztec District-approved public charter school, also received $20,000.

“Students will combine elements of STEAM to become curious about their local environment through natural landscape study,” the statement read. “The school provides the perfect opportunity to use science, art and outdoor gardening elements for students to design their own outdoor space. Additionally, they plan to broaden students’ understanding of their natural environment by organizing bike rides throughout the seasons. This will help them keep up with the ever-changing desert landscape.

The grant program is part of the New Mexico Division of Outdoor Recreation, which is overseen by the Department of Economic Development.

“New Mexico pioneered the Outdoor Equity Fund in 2019 when Governor Lujan Grisham signed this innovative and one-of-a-kind program,” said Alicia J. Keyes, Secretary to the Cabinet of the Department of Economic Development. “I’m so proud to continue supporting this next generation of outdoor industry leaders.”

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