Governors Matt Mead and Jay Nixon Receive 2015 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award

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Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon have been selected to receive the 2015 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award – the recreation community's most prestigious award. The awards will be presented to each Governor in his office by leaders of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and The Coleman Company. In addition, plans are underway to honor the Governors in Washington, D.C. during February 2016.

ARC has presented this award since 1989 to an individual whose personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences in America. The award was established in memory of Sheldon Coleman (1901-1988), longtime Chairman of The Coleman Company and a visionary champion of outdoor recreation and conservation. Winners are selected by recreation and conservation leaders from both the private and public sectors.

2015's award is unusual in two ways. Only once before has a Governor received this national recognition and only once before has the award gone to more than one individual.

“The selection panel for the award had a very rich field of candidates,” said ARC President Derrick Crandall. “Many Members of Congress, Cabinet members and others were deservedly nominated. But reports on the efforts of Governor Nixon and Governor Mead were compelling, showing their passion and vision and their commitment to expanding the enjoyment of outdoor recreation’s benefits while enlisting many partners in their efforts.”

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon championed recreation issues even before becoming the leader of the Show-Me State in 2009, including high-visibility efforts which saved a railroad bridge across the Missouri River that was crucial to preserving the famed Katy Trail State Park. As Governor, he has made state parks, trails and state waterways a high priority. He launched a campaign to encourage every Missourian to walk at least 100 miles on Missouri's trails in 2014, and expanded this effort to encourage paddling at least 100 miles on Missouri's waters in 2015. He created one of the nation's most active summer employment programs for disadvantaged and minority youth. Missouri’s State Parks Youth Corps offers 300-hour internships for youth between the ages 17 and 24. Participants gain valuable work experience to prepare for tomorrow's careers while enjoying the beauty and grandeur of the state’s parks.

The Governor has appeared in numerous PSAs highlighting outdoors opportunities across Missouri and the benefits of time outdoors to individuals, families and friends. One of those PSAs was selected as a national award winner for Great Outdoors Month 2015, which allowed the Governor to direct a special contribution to a Missouri organization helping to connect kids and the outdoors. In the fall of 2014, the Governor hosted a successful Governor's Conference on Natural Resources which highlighted partnerships and innovative thinking to sustain the state's legacy of conservation, stewardship and active connections with the outdoors.

Governor Nixon hosted one of the largest and most successful events of Great Outdoors Month 2015, the Capitol Campout and Outdoors Day at, and adjacent to, Missouri's State Capitol in June. The Governor recently announced plans to improve and expand Missouri's state parks, including a major new state park in Shannon County and to build toward a Missouri voter reaffirmation of a unique earmarking of a portion of state sales tax revenues to outdoors programs. Governor Nixon has also worked through the National Governors Association and the Southern Governors Association, which he chairs, to promote enjoyment of the Great Outdoors nationally.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead was initially elected in November 2010 and was reelected in 2014. The Wyoming native has been a champion for linking Wyoming's outdoor culture, history and traditions to the state's magnificent national, state and local parks.

Governor Mead has supported Great Outdoors Month throughout his tenure with proclamations and activities. In 2015, he hosted the initial Wyoming Capital Campout which featured the nation's first-ever bilingual Capital Campout - Campamento y Comida en el Parque, designed to reach Wyoming's fast-growing Latino community.

Governor Mead enlisted the assistance of his state parks and tourism departments to produce a PSA urging residents and visitors alike to enjoy Wyoming's outdoors. This PSA was selected as a national award winner for Great Outdoors Month 2015, allowing the Governor to direct a special donation to a Wyoming organization connecting kids and the outdoors. He supported the Wyoming Department of State Parks' 7th annual "Summer Outdoor Slam" at Curt Gowdy State Park on National Get Outdoors Day, offering introductions to a variety of recreational opportunities for children and families.

He has provided personal support for "WY Outside," a coalition of public, private and nonprofit organizations established to encourage children and families to enjoy the outdoors. In 2015, the organization launched the WY Outside Challenge with activities to test participants' outdoor skills and knowledge.

Governor Mead helped bring increased visibility to Wyoming's outdoor recreation opportunities by leading efforts for the Inaugural Cowboy Tough Adventure Race this year, where challenging mountain biking, trail running, trekking, and water sports adventures were experienced in amazing park settings.

The Governor is a champion of small businesses in the state, including the many small businesses involved in Wyoming travel, tourism and recreation. As Vice Chair and now Chairman of the National Governors Association's Natural Resource Committee, he has championed the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Recreational Trails Program. He was selected by his fellow governors to serve as Chairman of the Western Governors Association in 2016 and is continuing that organization's strong advocacy for the health and economic value of recreation tied to the region's public lands and waters.

“The recreation community is indebted to these national leaders. They inspire us. They champion the role recreation plays in healthy lifestyles and sustainable, vibrant local economies. They find time for recreation in their busy lives and have united and cheered recreation community leaders in their respective states. They also demonstrate that recreation enjoys the support of the nation’s leaders from both political parties and in all regions,” said ARC President Crandall.

The 2015 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award is a golden lantern specially prepared and mounted by The Coleman Company.

Past recipients of the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award include President George H.W. Bush (1990), National Geographic Society Chairman Gil Grosvenor (1994), U.S. Senators John Breaux (1991), Frank Murkowski (1997), John Chafee (1998) and Lamar Alexander (2013), U.S. Representatives Jim Oberstar (1996), Ralph Regula (2000) and Sam Farr (2014), Transportation Secretaries Norman Mineta (2003) and Rodney Slater (1999), and Secretaries of the Interior Ken Salazar (2011) and Dirk Kempthorne (2008).