5 Midwestern Groups Promoting Outdoor Recreation

Studies have shown that spending time in nature can do wonders for our stress and overall health. In addition, outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking can help you appreciate the natural world in new ways, ultimately leading to the urge to protect and conserve it for future generations. This list, in no particular order, highlights many groups in the Midwestern U.S. that are advocating for the great outdoors.

For #1, we have the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. It aims to permanently preserve, protect, maintain, improve, and enhance local natural resources, parkland, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations. It manages a range of spaces, such as parks, lakes, historical sites, and more.

The board plans several activities and events every year. Locals can enjoy sports leagues and winter pastimes, like cross-country skiing and snowboarding, or sign-up for creative classes dedicated to pottery, music, and more. In the summertime, there are also a number of water-based activities, such as swimming.

Coming in at #2 is the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. Based out of Grand Rapids, it aims to permanently protect natural and scenic areas throughout the Wolverine State. It does this by creating public nature preserves, providing support to communities and local governments creating natural areas, and helping private landowners protect their own land.

The nonprofit has developed a number of projects to inspire the public's love of nature, including a wildflower guide and an art initiative called "Preserved." It also installed signs at five different nature preserves to help visitors capture pictures of these changing landscapes; the photographs are used to monitor progress as staff members remove invasive species and restore native plants.

The #3 entry is Girl Scouts River Valleys, a chapter of the national organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Its Every Girl in a Tent program challenges young ladies to learn new outdoor skills, from sleeping in a tent for the first time to canoeing for a full week in the Boundary Waters Area.

Adventure Club is for Girl Scouts who want to embark on an even higher number of outdoor trips. Activities include mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, skiing, rock climbing, and more. Scouts who participate receive a special badge.

Next up, at #4, we have the Indiana Audubon Society, the oldest conservation organization continuously operating in Indiana. It was formed to stimulate interest in birds and their protection and to educate the public concerning the necessity for conserving and preserving the state's flora and fauna.

In the 1940s, the society received a gift of donated land, which is named the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary. This area encompasses over 700 acres of managed habitat that includes mature woodlands, established prairie, ponds, wetlands, and fields. Its trails, meeting space, and campgrounds help bolster the organization's mission to promote avian appreciation.

Rounding out our list at #5 is Madison Bikes, a nonprofit advocacy group located in Wisconsin's capital that envisions an urban area where anyone can ride a bicycle conveniently and comfortably year-round. Membership to the group is free and open to the public.

Madison Bikes keeps a calendar with various cycling-advocacy related events in and around the city. It works on several initiatives, including closing various streets to car traffic, installing additional storage racks, and improving safety on campus at the University of Wisconsin.