A Dozen and One Things We’re Thankful For in 2016

As the winter holidays approach and we prepare to turn the calendar over to 2017, here's a look back at the successes, wins and good news we celebrated in 2016. Indeed, it's a great time to be an outdoorist.

By Deborah Williams December 20, 2016

We had trouble narrowing this list down to just 12, so we threw in an extra—and it’s the most important. Thanks to our members’ participation and incredible work throughout the year, we made enormous impacts across our three pillar areas of policy, participation and sustainability. As we wrap up 2016 and look ahead, here are a dozen and one things we’re thankful for this season. We wish you a happy holiday and look forward to continuing this good work in the New Year.

1. (Your Name Here)

First and foremost we are thankful for you, our dedicated and engaged members and member companies who work tirelessly to evangelize the outdoors not only to your customers but also to your communities, to policymakers and to the public. As you’ll see below, all of the successes we celebrate this year are directly attributable to the time you took to lend your voice and energy to the issues that matter to the outdoor industry. And there’s always more work to do. The best gift we give each other is our mutual commitment to our shared issues. Together We Are A Force.

2. REC Act

After years of lobbying Congress to recognize the size and scope of the outdoor industry, OIA celebrated our biggest win of 2016 earlier this month when President Obama signed the Recreation Economic Contributions Act, mandating the Bureau of Economic Analysis and its partners to measure the impact that outdoor recreation has on the overall U.S. economy and offer detailed economic statistics not currently available. This bill puts the outdoor recreation industry on equal footing with other sectors of the economy, such as oil & gas and pharmaceuticals, when accounting for the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was a big champion of this effort and made an important step back in April when she announced a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce to create a national Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) and a commitment of initial funding for its work to quantify the economic impact of the outdoor sector. READ MORE.

3. Parks4Kids

In celebration of the NPS Centennial, OIA and Outdoor Foundation launched the Parks4Kids campaign to fund trips that get 4th-graders outdoors. Parks4Kids was created to provide micro grants to teachers, schools and nonprofits to connect our next generation with our nation’s parks. For only $10, you can give a kid a powerful park experience. Individual members and companies have been stepping up consistently throughout the year, purchasing Parks4Kids Give Back Badges at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, contributing to our Regions That Rock campaign and to our holiday Turn on the Lights campaign. So far, we’ve helped more than 20,000 kids get outside. Want to contribute? There’s still time. DONATE NOW.

4. Higg Index

After more than seven years working to develop the Higg Index tool, the Sustainability Working Group, in conjunction with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, began promoting industry-wide adoption of the platform. Several early adopters have already begun to realize significant cost savings and business efficiencies while reducing their production impacts. As an extra incentive, Outdoor Industry Association is subsidizing the cost of registration for all OIA brand members under $500 million annual revenue through the spring of 2017. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER—FOR FREE.

5. Forecasting Report

The outdoor consumer landscape is evolving, shifting in response to economic, social and demographic changes. As part of the OIA ConsumerVue segmentation research, this report examines the significant impact and opportunities that five macro-shifts will continue to have on the outdoorindustry, as well as the seven segments of U.S. outdoor consumer population. Looking toward 2020, the outdoor industry is expected to face unprecedented disruption, induced by the perfect storm of shifting demographics, urban migration, the rise of obesity and a heightened emphasis on healthy living. DOWNLOAD THE REPORT.

6. Participation Report

The goal of the report—compiled from the results of an online survey of 19,000 Americans—helps the outdoor industry, public agencies and community organizations better understand the trends in outdoor recreation participation, enabling groups to address America’s inactivity crisis and the disconnect between children and the outdoors. DOWNLOAD THE REPORT.

7. State-Level Offices and Directors of Outdoor Recreation

OIA’s local policy director Cailin O’Brien-Feeney’s white paper evaluates the recent and promising trend within state governments—namely Colorado, Utah and Washington—to create and invest in high-level positions charged with the dual role of supporting the outdoor industry and improving outdoor recreation opportunities. Each of these states has identified outdoor recreation as a core priority for the health of their citizens and their economy. DOWNLOAD THE WHITE PAPER.

8. OIA's 3 Pillars

At last summer’s Outdoor Retailer Industry Breakfast, Executive Director Amy Roberts explained how and why a trade association can be the catalyst for change. In her presentation, she highlighted the three focus areas for OIA moving forward: policy, participation and sustainability. WATCH NOW.

9. Audio Outdoorist Podcast

Recognizing the universal problem of time poverty for professionals everywhere, including outdoorists, OIA launched a podcast series full of helpful insights, stories and resources that you can listen to during your commute to work, your weekend run, your afternoon road ride or any other time your ears are free. Subscribe to Audio Outdoorist to catch up on everything you’ve missed and to get new episodes delivered to your feed. SUBSCRIBE NOW.

10. Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy

What will the future of the outdoor industry hold? That might be for these outdoor visionaries to decide. READ MORE.

11. Pokémon Go

Say what you will about the Pokémon Go phenomenon, it’s got people talking—and walking—outside. Its societal impact is undeniable, and technology expert Katie Linendoll thinks its business impact is too. Outdoor Industry Association asked Linendoll what outdoor brands and retailers can learn from the companies that created the app and those who’ve aligned themselves with it, for better or worse—but mostly for better. READ MORE.


Need we say more? When the President of the United States proclaims his outdoorist identity in one of our nation’s most celebrated national parks, there’s little doubt that the work we’ve done has made an impact. The #ElPrezatElCap campaign was our most successful to date. FIND OUT WHY.

13. #MyOutdoorStory

We asked you to share stories about how you got into the outdoor industry, the place that means the most to you, why you care where your outdoor gear comes from and how you advocate for public lands. Our inaugural effort to archive our industry’s narrative was a resounding success. We collected more than 100 recordings. LISTEN TO THE STORIES AND RECORD YOURS HERE.