Everyday Hero: Passport Oregon founder shares state's natural beauty with kids
This week's Everyday Hero is a man who wants to get away from it all.
Kevin Frazier is dedicated to making sure young kids have the same opportunities to get away and outside as he did when he was younger.
That’s why he created his own non-profit, Passport Oregon. How it came about was somewhat serendipitous.
A few years back Frazier menntored a boy at Spencer Butte Middle School in Eugene. He asked a few seemingly innocent questions.
“One day I just decided to say “Hey, have you ever been to Crater Lake?’ No. “Okay, Mount Hood?’ No. “Please tell me you've been to Silver Falls?” Nope.”
So the 23-year-old decided to do something about it.
“It just kind of broke my heart because here we are, this state that has so much wilderness to offer and yet these kids don't have these transformative nature experiences that I did,” Frazier said.
Now in its second year, Passport Oregon's Frazier and his team of volunteers shuttle kids from area schools who haven't had a chance to explore Oregon's natural wonders.
"We make it easy for families and at no cost to provide their kid with a day-long adventure that really allows them to feel closer to nature, and begin to make going outside a norm in their lives," he said.
It's all about overcoming any issues that might prevent kids from getting outside.
"We just help eliminate any barriers that would exist, whether it's a time or a safety issue by providing these really well thought-out, immersive experiences in the spots that define Oregon," he said.
Passport Oregon's theme is exploration, education and empowerment, and the goal is to "close the nature gap."
"There's a reason we have Crater Lake on our license plates. And every profile picture you see has some beautiful image of Oregon in the background. It's just so much fun- that's the biggest part. I love the smiles we see when we introduce a first banana slug poke, or a first climb up a waterfall.
Not surprisingly, Frazier says, some of the kids go on these adventures over and over again...telling their parents they have to go to bed early so they're fresh for the next adventure.
“They're excited to get back outside in nature and tell their friends about how much fun they're having,” Frazier siad.
And the volunteers love it as much as the kids.
“Our volunteers are just excited to wake up and introduce the outdoors to new kids and make sure that the next generation of tree-huggers and mountain climbers are ready to go outside,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have awesome friends and family helping me out, who said Yes! This should be a reality, this is a part of being an Oregonian.”
In addition to private donations, the group has found support from sponsors like Columbia Sportswear, Cafe Yumm, Kind bars, Sisters Fruit Company and Embassy Suites hotels.
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