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P.O. Box 1332, Abiquiu, NM 87510
Grant Received County Amount
Outdoor Equity Fund 2023 Rio Arriba County $40,000
Total Grants Awarded $40,000

Since 2009, Northern Youth Project (NYP) has created a safe place to learn and build community through the exploration of the outdoors. Our organization provides unique programs for rural Northern New Mexico youth. Our education through experience based approach includes cultural arts and outdoor recreation, but revolves fundamentally around traditional land based stewardship with a focus on food security and agricultural skills. Our communities have been impacted by greater systemic issues, including displacement from land access and disruptions of local land-based and economies. This has resulted in widespread poverty, substance abuse and lack of job opportunities resulting in “brain drain”, consequently pulling youth away from building a future within their communities. We have seen through our young leaders how meaningful access to the outdoors can combat these issues and create vital opportunities for success and increased quality of life. In response to these immediate community needs, NYP provides land based education, life skill development and leadership experiences, and safe spaces to the youth of these local marginalized communities to connect to the land. In Rio Arriba County, we experience some of the highest rates in the state of New Mexico of childhood hunger, single parent households & grandparents raising grandchildren, and other poor health outcomes due to various other social determinants of health, including that 27.1% of youth live in poverty (The Food Depot, 2022). According to the most recent Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (2021), over 1/3 of Rio Arriba County youth felt sad or hopeless and over 1/4 experienced frequent mental distress. There has been high need in our community for decades due to lack of school art and recreation programs. NYP was founded by local Abiquiu teens, who saw a need for safe spaces to learn and grow when no other options were available. 15 years later, we continue to provide opportunities for healthy development, via free educational programs, paid internships, and outdoor leadership activities year round for youth ages 14-21. By practicing democratic decision making and critical thinking through our Future Leaders of Our World (FLOW) youth council, teens are empowered to prioritize outdoor recreation areas and activities they want to explore throughout the year. This has included exploring on public and private lands near Abiquiu and El Rito through hikes, rock climbing, and nature walks, & water sports at Abiquiu lake. Programming is centered in our garden in the heart of Abiquiu, a Genizaro community with a rich cultural heritage, based in land stewardship and artistic expression. From Spring-Fall, teens grow and prepare fresh, healthy, and delicious traditional food via our Agriculture Internship. Youth have engaged the practice of art as activism through multiple trash collection initiatives, leading to the creation of sculptures, cleaner water for farmers, and community education on the impact trash has on our natural resources. A short film titled Love of Land, documenting our Acequia clean-up-to-trash-sculpture project will be presented to the community in 2024 (in collaboration with Northern New Mexico College, where the trash sculptures are on permanent display).