The Department of Wildlife Resources and local makers have been working together for the last few years to promote the outdoors for the next generations. Showcasing the diverse partners throughout the state of Virginia really shows the new demographics DWR is trying to reach, and being inclusive of all of the local artists is what they’re striving to do. They are looking for more partners to expand the conservation message throughout Virginia and beyond.
Over the last 8 months, the DWR Merchandise Team had to act and think differently, and through this incubation, they built a campaign to work with local makers in Virginia. Conservation Collaboration is the merging of several forces to bring a stronger conservation message alongside unique products and stories. At the end, they discovered that the outdoors are better together with each other or through public/private partnerships.
These conservation collaborators are true artisans like knife makers, artists, leather creators, embroiderers, and so much more. They are storytellers of their desire to keep our “wild” places wild, to sustain our natural resources for the next generation, and being stewards of the outdoors. They are hunters, anglers, hikers, wildlife viewers, and they are community focused, too. They’re tribal by “nature.”
As you see, they are more than just artisans! DWRs knife maker, Join or Die, provides opportunities for veterans to heal from experiences from their service to our country. Their leather maker from Tamarack Leather & Axe worked at the Montana Conservation Corps and is currently promoting native plants in his community and wants to make it a career. Mike Rennie, their tackle box artist, believes in preserving the natural resources for the next generation. And imagine, an embroiderer from Crewel & Unusual with a passion to see the tiniest things in nature and at the same time, recharge his battery.
These makers are authentic in their passion for community and the outdoors. In some ways, they all give back to their communities. The Department has enjoyed giving back to their local makers in a time of need and all the while discovering so much more.
One of the first collaborations came six year ago when a partnership was launched between the Department of Wildlife Resources and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia to create an e-commerce effort and raise monies to connect youth to the outdoors through the Virginia Wildlife Grant Program. Since then, the Grant Program has raised over $310,000 to get kids outdoors.
Do you fit that local maker profile with a shared passion of the outdoors? Are you giving back to your community to inspire that connection to nature or just to make others better? Please reach to DWR at VirginiaWildlife.gov/partnerships to get the conversation started.
And as always, The Outdoors Are Better Together! See for yourself!