Founder of Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Great Outdoors University First in State to Win Award
RESTON, Va. – The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has named the first Tennessean ever as its national Volunteer of the Year.
Peter Schutt of Memphis, Tennessee, a long-time Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) board member and the founder of TWF’s Great Outdoors University program, was selected for his spirit of volunteerism and his passion for connecting children with the outdoors. Schutt received the award at NWF’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., as part of the organization’s 75th anniversary celebration.“It’s the dedication and commitment of people like Peter Schutt that helps ensure a wildlife heritage for our children,” said Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. “Peter’s volunteer efforts have had a major impact on his community and his state, and the National Wildlife Federation is grateful for his continued support and determination to make our world a better place.”In 2006, Schutt had a vision for a program that would offer meaningful outdoor experiences to children who otherwise wouldn’t have the means to discover natural beauty and wild places. He wanted to share with youth in the inner city the joy that he felt growing up hiking, fishing and playing in the woods. Schutt provided the financial resources, and TWF’s Great Outdoors University (GOU)program was born.
GOU currently operates in Memphis and Nashville, partnering with non-profit organizations that serve at-risk youth by providing day and weekend trips to natural places where the kids learn outdoor skills and develop relationships with peers, mentors and the great outdoors. In addition to unstructured time in the woods, GOU participants learn to fish, identify flora and fauna, hike and camp. And beyond the new skills attained are the life lessons learned.
GOU has evolved into a nationally acclaimed program noted for its simplicity and effectiveness. When far too many children only know the outdoors through the screen of a video game or television, he has instilled in them a love and appreciation for the natural world that will carry them forward and be passed along to future generations.
“I can’t imagine anyone being more qualified for the Volunteer of the Year Award than Peter Schutt, and we are tremendously proud for him,” said Michael Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, NWF’s state affiliate. “Peter understands the important connection between conservation and community, and he took an idea and contributed the time, talent and resources to make it happen. In five years, the Great Outdoors University program has provided more than 7,000 outdoor experiences to kids who wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise.”
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children’s future.
Founded in 1946, The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is dedicated to the conservation, sound management and enjoyment of Tennessee's wildlife and natural resources for current and future generations through stewardship, advocacy and education.