ATCF Board Member Conflict of Interest Policy Update

By Josie Norris

Our first guest blogger is ATCF board member Josie Norris. Josie is the communications and grant program manager at The Conservation Alliance a non-profit organization founded in 1989 based in Bend, Oregon that works to protect wild places throughout North America. Since its inception, the Alliance has contributed more than $20 million to grassroots conservation groups with a membership base of more than 235 member organizations.

Hello ATCF Community,

During our first two years as an organization, the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund awarded a total of $235,000 in grant funding to ten projects around the world. Our third grant cycle is underway, and we are on track to award $80,000 in 2019. Every organization seeking a grant from the ATCF must go through a rigorous application process. I’m writing today to provide background about our grant program, and clarify our policies around board member involvement. 

The ATCF is based on the same model that The Conservation Alliance has been using for 30 years. The Conservation Alliance engages businesses to protect wild places in North America. The ATCF adapted The Conservation Alliance’s unique grant-making process to fit the adventure travel industry’s needs and ATCF’s mission to fund projects all over the world.   

Through this process we learned about one big difference between The Conservation Alliance and ATCF. All Conservation Alliance member companies benefit from the creation of new protected areas where outdoor industry customers recreate, and no single business benefits more than another when a wild place is protected.  “All boats rise with the tide.” To that end, Conservation Alliance board member conflicts of interest are essentially non-existent. 

In contrast, ATCF projects are often in remote locations and some adventure travel companies will benefit more than others when a project is funded. To prevent ATCF board member conflicts of interest and the perception of conflicts, we have expanded our Conflict of Interest policy. These changes are specific to ATCF board member involvement in our grant program in three specific areas:  project nominations; the selection of projects that will be placed on the 2019 ballot; and voting. 

Nominating Projects

All member companies are encouraged to nominate two outstanding projects to apply for funding in each grant cycle. This benefit of membership applies to all member companies, including companies represented on our Board. ATCF attracts board members who are passionate about ATCF’s mission, engaged in global conservation initiatives, and knowledgeable about potential candidates for ATCF’s grants. Without board member participation in the nomination process, qualified and worthy projects may be overlooked. Along with regular members, board members  may nominate projects during the grant nominations period, provided that they fully disclose on the nomination form a) any interest that they or an affiliated party has in the project, and 2) any actual or potential conflict.

Ballot Discussion

During Board discussions regarding nominated projects, the nominating Board member may not participate in any Board discussions or votes regarding any project the Board member nominated. The nominating Board member shall recuse himself or herself from any discussion or vote. The Board may ask a nominating Board member for additional information about a project, just as it may reach out to a non-Board member with additional questions.

Ballot  

All projects on the ballot will clearly state connections to board member companies. This includes financial benefit, benefit to the local communities in which they operate, benefit to the cultural assets and historic site they rely on, etc. This information will be clearly stated on the ballot to ensure all ATCF members understand the connection to our Board member companies when voting for the projects they would like to fund.

Voting 

ATCF board members are prohibited from voting for a project that benefits their own companies if such projects are placed on the ballot. The decision to fund board member projects is based entirely on voting by ATCF’s membership.

For further information, please read through ATCF’s BOD Conflict of Interest statement and feel free to send any questions our way.  We look forward to another great grant cycle! If you are a member, don’t forget to vote!

World Nomads: Hard At Work Saving Generations of Sea Turtles

We posted this Member Spotlight Story back in an ATCF Newsletter in May, but wanted to highlight it again as fantastic conservation work showcased within the ATCF community.

In addition, after hearing some amazing stories at the Adventure Travel World Summit, ATCF wants to share more regularly member conservation stories so that we can learn and grow as a community together. If you are a member and have a compelling story to share that we can feature in our blog, please visit our Member Spotlight page and fill out a form or reach out to us with any questions.

The following video from ATCF member World Nomads produced in partnership with The Sea Turtle Conservancy documents the work these companies are doing in Costa Rica. This project’s aim is to reduce the impacts of climate change on sea turtles and promote eco-tourism around Tortuguero Beach, which hosts the largest green turtle rookery in the Western Hemisphere as a way to build sustainable conservation programs that provide revenue for local communities.

Read even more about this awesome project here.

Way to go World Nomads!

MiiR Steps Up As New ATCF Adventure Leader Member

We are pleased to welcome MiiR as the newest Adventure Leader member. Adventure Leaders are distinguished ATCF members leading the way in their fields to conserve natural and cultural resources of international adventure travel destinations. These members play a critical role in supporting ATCF operations, allowing the organization to run and manage a successful grant program. With signing on as an Adventure Leader, these companies make a three-year commitment to contribute $25,000 annually.
 
“We are already funding nonprofit work around the world, but would love to see a focus on adventure tourism.” says Charlie Clark, Director of Impact for MiiR. “MiiR has a goal to develop an internal travel program which would highlight partners, projects and adventures which are part of our company's greater ecosystem. We see this relationship as an excellent opportunity to not only help drive positive change but be connected to a robust network of like-minded groups.”
 
The ATCF came into existence in 2017 with organizations in the adventure travel and outdoor retailer industries uniting to support and catalyze conservation and environmental protection efforts worldwide. Since its inception in 2017, the organization has awarded $235k towards 10 projectsin 9 countries in just two short years.  
 
ATCF began their Adventure Leader membership when the organization began and with MiiR joining, we now have six Adventure Leaders: ExOfficioAdventure Travel Trade AssociationEagle CreekBackroadsREI Adventures and MiiR. Making a committing at this level, these Adventure Leaders have provided over $150 thousand in organizational support this year that helps the organization steward important conservation efforts worldwide.

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MiiR, a Seattle based company founded in 2010, began with the mission to empower people for a better future. A Product to Project company, MiiR donates 3% of revenues to trackable Give Projects, creates timeless, innovative and thoughtfully designed products, primarily in the insulated drinkware category. MiiR partners with some of the most respected non-profits in the world to create sustainable projects that support clean water, a healthy environment, and strong communities across the globe. To date, MiiR has invested in 60 projects across 26 countries, and helped empower over 100,000 people.

Charlie Clark further explained that "at MiiR we exist to empower people for a better future. As an international brand which values environmental integrity and strong, healthy communities, it makes complete sense to align ourselves with the ATCF and its vision. As an Adventure Leader we hope to support critical programs and help drive awareness of the people and places which make the world worth traveling."

Thanks so much to MiiR and to all of the other members dedicated to supporting The Adventure Travel Conservation Fund protect the natural and cultural resources of adventure travel destinations. To learn more about membership, please read through our membership page, sign up to become a member below or contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Soraya Shattuck
Executive Director

PS: Thanks to MiiR for supplying us these sweet coffee tumblers at the ATCF Breakfast Meeting! This helped me reduce my plastic waste at this year's Adventure Travel World Summit in Sweden.

ATCF Reaching New Heights!

Adventure tourism stands at the precipice of making a positive impact on conservation.  What better perspective to hear what’s happening in this field than from Leo Houlding, world class climber, alpinist and adventurer with his fair share of adventures to far out ledges all over the world.

Leo first began climbing at the age of 10 and went on to come into fame when at 18 he became the first Briton to free climb El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley.  Since his career began, Leo has traveled worldwide in pursuit of exploratory adventures to the world’s most extreme environments.  He recently led an Antarctica expedition at the end of 2017 along with Mark Sedon and Jean Burgun that included kite skiing across Antarctica, attempting to climb Spectre peak alpine style, and then kiting back across the continent to get home is beyond ambitious.  Leo says, “The price of being ambitious is that you’re never satisfied”.   

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Come Be Inspired!

The Adventure Travel Conservation Fund is delighted to welcome Leo as the guest speaker for our upcoming Annual Breakfast Meeting taking place in Sweden next week.  Leo will be reflecting on his most recent adventure to Papua New Guinea and discussing how adventure tourism development is about to impact this untouched remote area where tourism has not yet reached.  This area is threatened by the Palm Oil industry and showcases from Leo’s perspective the indigenous community working together to protect and steward the land for sustainable development.

With the global adventure tourism market valued at $444,850 million in 2016 and projected to reach $1,335,738 million in 2023, learning from adventure travel champions, like Leo Houlding, on ways to travel and protect the places we love is crucial.  Get ready to be motivated, inspired and in wonderment for how one man is making a difference in the conservation of adventure travel destinations.

If you are coming to Sweden next and attending the ATWS and plan to make it to this ATCF Breakfast Meeting with Leo Houlding speaking, apace is limited, so please let us know if you plan to attend by responding you are coming to this event on our FB event page, and show up early!

Welcome Our Two Newest ATCF Board of Directors

We are so pleased to welcome two new members to the ATCF board.

Gordon Seabury and Chris Noble both come to the ATCF bringing ample experience and a readiness for joining our active board as we continue to move the dial on conservation for adventure travel destinations. With terms beginning in January 2020, adding these two individuals brings the board of directors to fourteen members. We could not be more excited!

A little more about these two men so that you can get a better sense of who they are and why they accepted their nominations (as well as receiving sufficient votes by ATCF members) for joining this board of directors:

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GORDON SEABURY, TOAD&CO

As an outdoor industry leader for the last 22 years, Gordon has committed his career to building brands that practice a triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) approach to business. After a four year stint as a management consultant at Deloitte, Gordon purchased Toad&Co (formerly Horny Toad Activewear), a small start-up outdoor apparel brand based in Telluride, CO. Now headquartered in Santa Barbara, CA, he remains the CEO and Toad&Co designs responsible outdoor lifestyle clothing that seamlessly transitions from trail to tavern. He also co-founded Planet Access 20 years ago, a social enterprise committed to providing life skills, vocational training and outdoor experiences for people with disabilities. Gordon spent 17 years on the Outdoor Industry Association Board most recently as its Chairman. He formerly served on the Board of the not-for-profit Heal the Bay in Santa Monica and as a Director for RootsRated.com, a tech start-up in the outdoor lifestyle space. He is currently on the Advisory Boards of Alante Capital and Limeloop and sits on the Eco-Entrepreneurship Advisory Council at the Bren School at UCSB. He also serves as a mentor for Telluride Venture Accelerator and several early stage sustainable start-ups.

How do you feel that your history best prepares you for service on the ATCF Board? 

I have been involved in the outdoor industry for 23 years as CEO of Toad&Co (formerly Horny Toad), a responsible outdoor and travel lifestyle apparel brand. During that time, I have also served on several Boards including the Outdoor Industry Association Board for 15 years (Chairman from 2015-2017). I currently work with several early stage entrepreneurs as adviser and mentor and on the Advisory Council of the Eco-Entrepreneurial program at the Bren Graduate School at UCSB. Toad&Co has been active members of the Conservation Alliance for over a decade along with many other environmental and socially responsible organizations in the industry and the communities we serve.

Describe prior experience you have working with nonprofits and conservation groups? 

I have been involved as a Board member or adviser for several not-for-profits including the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Planet Access & Search for Adventure (a social venture co-founded between T&Co and an organization providing vocational training, housing and life experiences for people with disabilities), Heal the Bay and the Bren Graduate School. I have also personally been active in Toad&Co's support and Board participation of the Conservation Alliance although not personally as a Board member.

Outline the specific skills you bring or contributions you hope to make to the ATCF Board.

Financial and strategic organization planning.
Start-up/early stage organizational experience and advice.
Building stronger relationships and network between the Outdoor and Adventure Travel industries.
Contribute to the future vision, scale and scope of the ATCF.
Leverage my OIA Board experience over the past 15 years to support ATTA/ATCF organizational evolution through growth and success.

Why do you seek a position on the ATCF Board of Directors?

Through my work and personal global travel, I have a deep appreciation for the impact adventure travel experiences can have on individuals and importance of preserving those experiences for future generations. I have been impressed since the launch of the ATCF at the Alaska ATTA Summit with the vision and momentum built to-date. I believe we are at a unique moment when the powers of the ATTA and OIA communities can work more collaboratively together to further their collective influence both in the activities and experiences they promote and the responsible conservation and sustainability ethos they share. I hope to contribute to building that collaboration and the corresponding momentum it can create.

Describe any experience with sustainable tourism.

Through our Toad&Co partnerships in the ATTA and our commitment to support sustainable living methods and business practices, we have provided education and eco-travel opportunities to our responsible consumer audience.

Describe any experience working in fundraising and development.

While there were some limited fundraising elements of the OIA Board, my most specific fundraising experience came from my Board role at Heal the Bay as it was the prime purpose of the position.

Describe any experience working with indigenous/community groups.

I do not have any personal experience working with indigenous groups.

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CHRIS NOBLE, WORLD NOMADS

Chris Noble is the GM of WorldNomads.com. A travel insurance brand that provides cover to residents of over 130 countries around the world. With over 20 years’ experience in strategic marketing, brand building, strategic alliance development, poorly crafted jokes and online community development, Chris is also the co-founder of The Footprints Network. The Footprints Network is an alliance of e-commerce travel companies funding global community development projects through micro-donations. So far they have funded over 217 community projects around the world from over 2 millions donations, harnessing the power of travelers to change lives. If he hadn’t escaped into the unknown in his youth, met people from all corners of the globe, continued to understand the world he lives in and worked hard with members of the adventure travel community to make a positive impact… he’d probably have been a Vegas dancer. We think he made the right call for all of us.

How do you feel that your history best prepares you for service on the ATCF Board? 

I have been the General Manager of WorldNomads.com, an adventure travel insurance and travel services provider for the past 10 years (15 years in total). We have also been an ATTA member for over 10 years. We have been at the forefront of digital and content marketing, having worked with over 25 ATTA member organizations across a multitude of programs and campaigns aimed at growing awareness and participation in adventure travel. This has lead to not only developing a highly profitable international business underpinned by a substantial community (over 1.5 million travelers) but more importantly done so through harnessing partnerships with likeminded adventure organizations. Those that want to leave a positive impact and create sustainable programs that support people, communities and our planet. That's what inspires me and working within the ATCF to that goal would be an honor.

Describe prior experience you have working with nonprofits and conservation groups? 

In 2005 after the Asian Tsunami, we developed The Footprints Network. Footprints is an organisation dedicated to fundraising through micro-donations technology. We do not implement projects itself but partner with specialist charities and NGO’s. The Footprints Network fund projects that broadly align to one or more United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in effort to help end poverty and shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path by 2030. We believe that people will have come across many of these issues as they travel around the world and have a moral obligation to give a little back to do something about them. So far we have raised over $4.5 million dollars, from over 1.7 million travelers that have funded and completed 217 development projects worldwide. It's not the money we are proud of, it's that we've been able to tap into the hearts and wallets of over 1.7 million travelers that care as much as we do.

Outline the specific skills you bring or contributions you hope to make to the ATCF Board.

As above. I believe my strong marketing, leadership, partnership building skills combined with my passion for supporting the development of sustainable tourism programs makes me a strong candidate to join the team.

Why do you seek a position on the ATCF Board of Directors?

I believe through my experience with both WorldNomads.com and The Footprints Network that I can bring both the skills, passion and a different perspective on how to grow the impact of the work ATCF does. I am incredibly passionate about how to engage not just member organisations, but also travellers in general in ensuring that the work that the ATCF undertakes can have an impact beyond just the organisation membership. I want to help understand and create opportunities for all travellers to become both educated and ultimately advocates for sustainable tourism worldwide.

Describe any experience with sustainable tourism.

As above, we are working through Footprints to fund more projects based around sustainable tourism (such as - https://www.footprintsnetwork.org/project/214/Empower-Farmers-for-Sustainable-Tourism-in-South-India.aspx). We are also working on a 'Full Stack' approach to funding sustainable tourism with a number of ATTA members and have been a secondary funding partner for ATCF since its inception.

Describe any experience working in fundraising and development.

As above - lots! :)

Describe any experience working with indigenous/community groups.

Through The Footprints Network we have funded organizations that work primarily with local and indigenous community groups. This has been core to Footprints and the SDGs have provided that framework to enable our funding to reach those communities most in need. To see this in action, go to - https://www.footprintsnetwork.org/fundedprojects.aspx

Learn more about our Board of Directors.

Outdoor Retailer Success & The Summer Deets

We wanted to share a quick recap of how things went for us at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Show June 16 - June 20, 2019. This was our third year attending this show and we had a fantastic time!

The Deets!

In addition to catching up with ATCF members, successful meetings with brands, connecting with new folks and taking part in many happenings, we also hosted an AdventureConnect ATCF fundraising event in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association. This event was a huge success with nearly 200 people attending spanning across the outdoor industry and adventure travel sectors! We also featured a silent auction with outdoor gear and adventure travel trips which were donated from a number of our ATCF members. Between closing a couple items from GreenSpot Travel and Todos Santos Eco Adventures, as well as raffling off a grand prize for an OARS rafting trip, we raised approximately $15 thousand dollars over the course of the event and the month of June! Attendees at the event also got the chance to hear from two-time grant winner WILDCOAST about all the conservation work they are up to in Baja and Oaxaca, Mexico. The event was so successful we plan to put it on next year! So mark your calendars for June 24, 2020 to join us again for this event.

Special Thanks

We want to thank the many ATCF members/partners whom made the OR Summer show a hit!  We had a great time engaging and catching up with a number of ATCF member companies attending the show and whom supported us in one way or another. 

We want to express our deep gratitude to all the member companies who donated items to the ATCF June auction - Angama MaraVolcanoes SafariAdventure Travel Trade Association, Eagle CreekMountain Lodges of PeruOARSHydro FlaskExOfficioOspreyGraylToad & CoNorthern OutdoorsStanleyIbex ExpeditionsTodos Santos Eco AdventuresGreenSpot Traveland REI Adventures. So many amazing items and adventure travel trips were bid on thanks to these member companies who supported us with this auction. A big heartfelt thanks! 

In addition, shout outs are warranted to members/partners who generously sold items during the Outdoor Retailer show, with proceeds going to support the ATCF.  This includes the following companies (some of whom have been making this happen for the last three years at this show). You all are rockstars!

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Finally, we also were fortunate to have the following companies sponsors for our AdventureConnect event at the OR Show which made the event that much stronger and amazing. Thank you so much to Light my Fire, MSR, Branwyn, Upslope Brewing, Epic Brewing and REI for your contributions!

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Whether you met with us at the OR show, joined us for our event or participated in our auction, we want to thank you for all your support. We hope all of you who attended the OR Summer Show had an equally great time and that those fortunate auction winners enjoy your amazing items.

Have questions about the OR Show or any other questions? Let me know.

Sincerely,

Soraya Shattuck
ATCF Executive Director

Angama Foundation: Raising Awareness and Conservation Funding – One Image at a Time

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Each year, millions of wildebeest and zebra come thundering over the border between Tanzania and Kenya, making their way from the Serengeti into the Maasai Mara, and bringing with them a steady flow of travellers to observe the extraordinary spectacle of The Great Migration.  

However, having one of the world’s most iconic natural events occurring right on your doorstep can be both a blessing and a curse for those that call the Maasai Mara home. A blessing because every year, you can rely on ample tourism interest during the months of the migration, but also a curse because when the migration leaves, so too do the bulk of the Mara’s visitors. Yet there is life aplenty left behind, along with communities and conservation entities that depend on a steady flow of visitors and contributors to sustain them. 

Amongst those most negatively impacted are community members whom often get only seasonal employment when camps and lodges opt to open just during the migration. Additionally, national park authorities, which are heavily reliant on visitor fees for funding, can face financial challenges outside of the typical migration season. 

This deeply embedded seasonality pattern can, to a large extent, be blamed on marketing – with too great a focus placed on the migration and too little on the phenomenal wildlife-viewing that takes place outside of the “peak season” months. So if marketing created the problem, it made sense to look to marketing for the solution – which is how The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year was born.

Now in its second year, The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year was launched by the Angama Foundation to reinforce the status of the Maasai Mara National Reserve as one of the best year-round wildlife destinations on the continent, while raising much-needed funds for six boots-on-the-ground conservation NGOs working in and around the Mara.

In spreading the visual story of the Mara year-round, we are able to put the spotlight on the destination, its wildlife and its people, with the aim of ultimately ensuring the long-term survival of the park and putting an end to seasonal employment practices.

The annual photographic is open to photographers of all skills and the rules state that no migration images may be entered at any time other than during the Mara’s typical migration months of June to October.

Each month, a finalist is selected by a panel of acclaimed wildlife photographer judges, including Art Wolfe, Federico Veronesi, Adam Bannister, Nisha Purushothaman and Michael Poliza, as a contender to win the grand prize and earn the title: The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year.

The prize is a substantial $10,000 in cash, with a five-night all-inclusive safari at Angama Mara, along with return local flights. Entry fees of $20 per image are donated in full to the entrant’s choice of one of six conservation partners: The Mara Elephant Project; The Maa Trust; The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; The Mara Conservancy; and The Anne K. Taylor Fund; and The Angama Foundation.

The Mara’s community of safari guides are incentivized to support the competition and encourage their guests to enter through prizes for the winning photographer’s guide. Last year, the guide of the winning photographer won a new Suzuki four-wheel drive vehicle and this year, the top three guides will be flown to England to watch a life Premier League match.  

The results? The 2018 edition of the competition attracted almost 1,000 images and entry fees of over $16,500, which were donated in full to the conservation partners.

Giving an additional boost to the reach and fundraising potential, during 2019, the top 2018 entries were showcased at exhibitions around the world, including Nairobi, Seattle, Melbourne, Brisbane, Dubai and Cape Town, with Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, Moscow and Johannesburg still line up for this year. These exhibitions are run in partnership with African tour operators, and limited prints are auctioned during the events to raise additional funds for the six conservation partners. At the Cape Town event alone, more than $20,000 was raised in just one night.

Of course, the real prize is one that is likely to first emerge as a very subtle shift in perception: a fresh understanding that there is far more to the Mara than the migration, a consciousness that by rethinking just the timing of a trip (and without compromising on the wildlife experience), you can play a part in the long-term sustainability of one of the world’s most precious natural habitats for generations to come.

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Author: This guest post is written by Nicky Fitzgerald of The Angama Mara, owner and co-founder. Nicky’s journey in hospitality has taken her from South Africa’s Western Cape through all the major wilderness high spots of Africa, and later India, where she was part of a team that built, opened, ran and marketed over 50 safari lodges for &aBeyond. Nicky also spent two years exploring ecotourism possibilities in Latin America. Now she is back at the front door of her lodge – a place she loves best of all.