With 54 peaks over 14,000 feet, 13 national parks, nearly 4 million acres of designated wilderness, as well as endless skiing, biking, and paddling, Colorado is one of our country’s greatest outdoor recreation meccas. Each year 71% of state residents get out and play on the trails, rivers, and peaks of the mile-high state. Now, CS4 alum Xander Martin is tasked with getting these intrepid hikers, bikers, and paddlers to undertake one more trek: a trek to the voting booth in November.
“I become the outdoor industry coordinator for the Jared Polis for Governor campaign in Colorado,” says Xander, a graduate of Colorado University and a former aide to Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan. “My job for this campaign,” he continues, “is to work with and organize the outdoor people, industry folks, and outdoor leaders to amplify the action and messaging for the Polis campaign in the outdoor community.”
That outdoor community can be a powerful economic force in a state like Colorado. Each year outdoor recreation generates $28 billion in consumer spending in Colorado, creates 229,000 jobs resulting in $9.7 billion in wages and salaries, and is responsible for $2 billion in state and local tax revenue. Xander’s job is to turn that economic force into a political force for the Polis campaign.
“I am traveling the state meeting outdoor leaders, organizing, and coordinating the efforts for the campaign to reach these outdoor recreation community members,” he says. Among other duties, Xander is helping to organize a statewide “Letters to the Editors” campaign, teaching those interested in outdoor recreation issues to write publishable letters to their local newspapers, something Xander first learned himself here at Conserve. “I’ve taught whole groups of people to submit LTE’s around the state,” he says, “and most of them had no idea what they were until I talked to them about it.”
In another Conserve connection, Xander and the Polis for Governor campaign will soon be working with Polar explorer and Colorado resident Eric Larsen on an ad campaign called “Trekking to the Polls.” Larsen, a frequent guest speaker at Conserve, will appear in the ads along with the candidate urging Colorado’s outdoor lovers to “trek to the polls” this November to cast their vote.
“There is so much energy around protecting our public lands and recreational access here in Colorado,” says Xander, who himself loves to hike, ski, paddle, and bike in his adopted state. Now he hopes to harness that powerful energy and convince others to ski and bike and paddle and hike to the voting booth this November and have their voices heard for the protection of the places they love.
Photos submitted by Xander Martin