2021 Outstanding Partnership Awards: Bank of the West, Grayl, Obōz

Photo by Jon Mullen, courtesy of grantee Wilderness Workshop
Our work would be impossible without our incredible network of grantee and member company partners. Every year, we invite our grantees to nominate member companies that have directly impacted their work. We review the nominations as a staff, and after lively debate, we choose three as the year’s Outstanding Partners. For 2021, the Outstanding Partnership Awards go to Bank of the West, Grayl, and Obōz. Read below to learn about the incredible support these brands are providing to their community partners. 

Member Company: Bank of the West 
Nominated by: Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA)

Working with Bank of the West to elevate our Owyhee Canyonlands campaign was a delightful experience from start to finish. 
Their series of short films, “Guardians of the Owyhee,” conveyed the need to protect the Owyhee poetically and persuasively. Moreover, they were able to capture the many nuances of this campaign accurately, which is an amazing feat. Bank of West gave every organization involved in this project a superb set of communications assets to share on our own channels, and amplified the story terrifically on their own. After publishing the Owyhee story and video on their blog, it was some of their best performing social content, securing over 26,000 unique visitors in just two weeks. And, it was simply a pleasure to work with Ashley Hodges and her video team. Everyone had a great attitude, helpful patience, stellar creativity, and superb project management skills.
ONDA is grateful for the additional attention for this campaign, which went well outside our usual audience, and we couldn’t be more excited to commend Bank of the West as truly outstanding partners in conservation.  

Member Company: Grayl
Nominated by: Washington Wild

Over the past several years, Washington Wild’s relationship with Grayl and its co-founder Travis Merrigan has grown and deepened around our shared interest in protecting wild places, especially waters. 
After understanding the mission of Grayl to use hand-held technology to provide clean safe drinking water for travelers, researchers, and outdoor enthusiasts as they explore wild lands and waters, we worked together on our Spring 2018 newsletter. Grayl’s co-founder Travis Merrigan wrote a guest voices column talking about how the concept of Grayl water filters are inspired by the same role that intact forests and watersheds play in providing clean water in the wild. We also included a primer of “Forests as Filters” highlighting how functioning ecosystems provide clean water for all of us. 
In 2020, our relationship grew as we featured Grayl during one of our virtual happy hours celebrating the successful passage of state legislation that banned the harmful practice of motorized suction dredge mining in Washington rivers and streams designated as critical habitat for salmon. Later that year, Grayl signed onto a comment letter coordinated by Washington Wild opposing the repeal of Roadless forest protections for nine million acres of old-growth forests in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. 
In 2021, Grayl supported Washington Wild’s work as an event sponsor for our Wild Night Out event and our photo contest. Grayl has also generously supported the organization with water filter donations for our annual auction and for organizational use and at least one fundraiser. 
On our website we are proud to honor Grayl as one of our community voices and corporate partners. We look forward to working with Grayl in the years to come to support our shared passion and interest in advocating for access to and the protection of clean water, healthy forests and wild watersheds.

Member Company: Obōz
Nominated by: Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Obōz has been a phenomenal, proactive partner. We work with many local businesses in our efforts to protect the lands, water, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and are grateful for them all. 
Obōz stands out because they reach out to us at least as often as we reach out to them. They consistently offer opportunities to increase our visibility, reach new audiences, and support us in any way we need. In particular, Obōz has taken a great interest in our work to protect the Gallatin and Madison ranges south of Bozeman, MT. This hotly contested landscape represents an extremely critical wildlife corridor for animals to move between Yellowstone National Park and the rest of the Northern Rockies. Yet, as local communities continue to grow at startling rates, these mountains are at risk of being loved to death. Having local partners like Obōz is a huge blessing as we push for permanent protections for this irreplaceable landscape after decades of work. 

Runners Up

Although we narrowed the list down to three, we felt compelled to share some of the fantastic testimonials that our grantees provided regarding the profound impact member companies are having on their work. Please enjoy a few more excerpts from among the nomination submissions. 
Continental Divide Trail Coalition: “Big Agnes has been an amazing partner of CDTC’s since 2018 when their entire staff undertook a thru-hike of the Colorado portion of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). They have demonstrated a deep commitment to helping complete and protect the CDT in many ways, including their adoption of over 70 miles of the CDT which their company maintains, donating a significant portion of their proceeds to CDTC from several signature products, supporting CDTC’s work to secure funding resources for our trail completion at Muddy Pass near Steamboat Springs, CO, participating in volunteer projects with CDTC and our land manager partners, and so much more! They keep their community of Steamboat Springs engaged in our collective work, and they are an entire company of amazing humans. CDTC’s work and success would not be possible without their partnership.”
Whatcom Land Trust: Superfeet has been a passionate supporter of Whatcom Land Trust for many years. The company encourages and rewards employees who volunteer in the ‘Be the Awesome’ program. Each employee gets two days paid time off to volunteer for the organization of their choice. Many Superfeet employees have chosen to give of their time and talent at Whatcom Land Trust work parties, and several participated in the Conservation Alliance’s Backyard Collective at Maple Creek Reach in recent years. In addition, Superfeet has awarded Whatcom Land Trust with grants and in-kind donations for fundraising events. For their exemplary support of our mission, Superfeet was recognized as the 2017 Business Partner of the Year at a major community event. We have been privileged to get to know Superfeet employee-owners on a personal basis over the years at many work parties and are impressed with their dedication to land conservation and wildlife habitat.”
Oregon Wild: “Ruffwear has been a consistent & reliable partner in our conservation efforts for years! They have joined us for hikes to threatened areas, worked alongside us on trail restoration projects, and more. They have been an especially huge help in the last 12 months as we work to pass the River Democracy Act, an incredibly important Wild & Scenic Rivers protection bill in Oregon. Both leadership and staff have gone out of their way to contribute time & energy towards the passage of the bill. They’ve helped out at all levels—from signing on to an endorsement letter, to speaking with reporters about why conservation is good for business. They really stand up for what they believe in, and we’re so grateful to have them as a partner here in Central Oregon!”
Wilderness Workshop: “When Wilderness Workshop and a coalition of groups working to protect the North Fork Valley in Western Colorado needed help developing a public relations campaign, we turned to Backbone Media. We had very limited resources and a major fight on our hands! Our initial ask to was to help develop a small set of materials and ideas at a non-profit rate. Backbone went above and beyond, and they did it all pro bono in the interest of helping local conservationists protect our local public lands. They guided us through the elements of putting a winning PR campaign together, from connecting us with a local designer to brand our campaign, to lending us expertise to develop communications assets and media strategies. They even went so far as to put staff on the coalition calls to help directly with the campaign and communications work. Over the past year and half Backbone has significantly contributed to the ‘Keep the North Fork Fruitful’ campaign, developing messaging, branding and creative communications materials to protect one of Western Colorado’s most spectacular valleys. Backbone’s time and energy on this conservation effort has been invaluable.”
Thank you to all of our member companies for the support you provide to The Conservation Alliance and our grantees. And, thank you to our grantees for taking the time to provide such thoughtful notes of thanks to our member companies. We can’t wait to see what we’re all able to achieve together in 2022!
Photo: Jon Mullen; Courtesy of grantee Wilderness Workshop