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Promoting The Outdoors Pays Off

Nat Geo tags Martinez with $10,000 grant

Juan Martinez grew up in a tool shed in South Central Los Angeles. “In my neighborhood it was gang members who succeeded, had what I wanted, and could provide for their families,” Martinez says. But at the suggestion of a teacher, he joined his school's Eco Club, an experience that led him to a bigger idea—connecting disadvantaged youths with the outdoors. "I take kids who have been abused, heavily medicated for behavior problems, violent, distrustful, but after a few days outdoors they’re sharing feelings and fears, laughing, and thinking like a team," he says. Last weekend, Martinez graduated from California State University Los Angeles with a degree in history, becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree. And this week, National Geographic named Martinez a 2011 Emerging Explorer, which brings a $10,000-award for research and exploration. Outside invited Martinez to participate in a diversity panel for our July issue on adventure media and minorities.

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Filed To: News