Grow archery

ATA Boosts Indy’s Outdoor Youth Exploration Academy

OYEA foundation provides inner-city youths a safe, educational environment to develop life skills through archery and bowhunting.
Photo Credit: Shannon Rikard

Author: Cassie Scott

Indianapolis might be home to two of the country’s most dangerous neighborhoods, but it’s also home to the Outdoor Youth Exploration Academy, a foundation that provides inner-city youths a safe, educational environment to develop life and leadership skills through outdoor activities like archery and bowhunting.

To support OYEA and help the archery and bowhunting industry reach this urban market, the Archery Trade Association and its hotel partners in Indianapolis donated $40,000 to kick-start the Outdoor Youth Exploration Academy’s Capital Campaign.

Indianapolis created OYEA in 1988 to fund special programs for youths, including field trips and community cleanups. These programs give children opportunities to spend one-on-one time with caring adults. OYEA educates urban youths about their role as environmental stewards. They learn about land and water conservation, and the value of lifelong outdoor recreational skills such as archery, hunting, fishing and air-rifle target shooting.

The Archery Trade Association and its hotel partners in Indianapolis donated $40,000 to kick-start the Outdoor Youth Exploration Academy’s Capital Campaign. Photo Credit: Youth Bowhunter Camp.

“Inner-city kids don’t get exposed to outdoor activities,” said Joe King, OYEA’s president. “OYEA takes them off the streets and gives them that opportunity. Archery turns kids around, which creates a better community. Archery doesn’t have size, weight, strength or color limitations. It doesn’t talk back, and there are no excuses. It demands 100 percent concentration and gets kids to focus and be responsible. It boosts their self-esteem and teaches them to respect themselves and others. Archery makes kids better students and better community members. We need more of that.”

The foundation works with schools, church groups, affinity groups, the police department, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and other organizations to serve an average of 2,300 children annually. Its popularity and positive influence in urban communities has helped it outgrow its current facility.

“We have facts and figures to show our organization turns kids around, but right now we’re limited,” King said. “We need a larger facility to serve more people. We want to have the No. 1 conservation club in the world, but we need the space and programs to support it. We have a plan. We just need money to make it happen. Through the help of the ATA and ATA members, we can help put kids on track for a bright future while creating more archers for ATA members to help.”

To meet its goals while providing safe, educational opportunities for youths, the OYEA created a Capital Campaign to generate money for a larger facility. The new building will have classrooms and an indoor archery park where mentors can teach sporting activities.

To advance those efforts, ATA and OYEA members met Saturday, Jan. 13, in the Indiana Convention Center to celebrate launching the Capital Campaign and contribute to the cause. After the $40,000 check presentation, the group discussed OYEA’s mission, the Capital Campaign and 2018 goals. They also invited ATA members to learn more about the OYEA foundation and how to get involved.

Jennifer Mazur, ATA's director of archery and bowhunting programs mentions, "The OYEA fosters a passion for the outdoors within a population that doesn’t typically experience it. We’re excited to donate to the OYEA foundation, and make archery available and accessible to more youths." Photo Credit: Shannon Rikard.

“ATA’s outreach team works hard to reach the inner-city, urban-youth market because their participation helps grow archery and bowhunting,” said Jennifer Mazur, ATA’s director of archery and bowhunting programs. “The OYEA fosters a passion for the outdoors within a population that doesn’t typically experience it. We’re excited to donate to the OYEA foundation, and make archery available and accessible to more youths. The OYEA is an established organization with good community involvement and reliable partnerships. We look forward to working with them.”

With the ATA’s help, the OYEA meets potential sponsors, media members and other partners at the grassroots level to build visibility and awareness about its Capital Campaign.

“The ATA fosters relationships with OYEA and the industry,” said Emily Beach, ATA’s senior director of outreach and education. “This is a rare opportunity to test an inner-city center that includes community support and partners. It also includes the possibility to obtain grants to provide services and support beyond archery programming. We hope this effort offers insight into recruitment opportunities that also benefit ATA members, state agencies and nongovernmental organizations.”

Questions? Contact Mazur at (301) 580-1238 or jennifermazur@archerytrade.org.

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