Student Spotlight: OAC It’s a Family Affair

For Oyler senior, Daniel Barnes, Outdoor Adventure Clubs is a family affair.  Daniel lives in Lower Price Hill.  He has serval cousins and siblings that also go to Oyler or have graduated from Oyler in the past. His cousins Stephanie Barnes and Cassey Flower are also seniors and members of the school’s Outdoor Adventure Club.

Daniel joined OACGC because he enjoyed participating in the adventures last year and was looking forward to enjoying the adventures once again, alongside his family members.  His favorite trip was the kayaking adventure.

Daniel believes that adventures give students a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and have experiences they might not otherwise have exposure to.  He would encourage students to join for the new experiences that OACGC offers to students.

Thanks for being an OACGC ambassador, Daniel!

School Spotlight: Dawnielle Loves Giving Back

Dawnielle Crooks has a very unique relationship with Outdoor Adventure Clubs.  As a high school student at Hughes High School, Dawnielle took Government and Economics classes from OACGC Founder, Denny McFadden.  She also participated in the kayaking trips arranged by Denny as team building exercises for the students and teachers.  OACGC was born out of the love and excitement Denny witnessed in his students during these paddling trips.  After retiring from teaching, he created Outdoor Adventure Clubs to expand the outdoor recreational opportunities he’d been providing at Hughes to students across the Cincinnati Public Schools district.

After graduating from high school, Dawnielle attended Wright State University and IUPUI and earned a BA in Education.  Today, Dawnielle works as a 9th grade teacher and team leader at Western Hills High School.  She is married with two children.  Dawnielle recently became an advisor for OACGC at Western Hills, bringing her personal Outdoor Adventure Club experience full circle.

Dawnielle tells us she chose to volunteer as a Club Adviser because she really enjoyed her experience with Outdoor Adventure Clubs during a summer program she coordinated last year. It also allows her the chance to get more active and outside with her students as well.

Dawnielle said “OACGC has exposed my students to a variety of outdoor activities that some have never experienced. I have watched their appreciation of the outdoors grow through these amazing, free opportunities provided by OACGC”.

Are you interested in coordinating a summer program for your school or organization with Outdoor Adventure Clubs?  Just shoot us an email (  We’d love to talk about the opportunities for engaging your students with the great outdoors in the summer!

2017-09-11T14:12:25+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, School Spotlight|

Staff Spotlight: New Board Member Joins

OACGC is excited to announce the addition of Kim Albers to our Board to Directors!

Kim is an English Learner (EL) teacher for Newport Schools. She has lived abroad in New Zealand and Chile and was a ski instructor at Lake Tahoe, CA for five years – she is happiest when on an adventure in nature! With a passion for the outdoors and education, it was only a matter of time before Kim began collaborating with Outdoor Adventure Clubs.

She met Denny (Founder/Executive Director) randomly while working for Cincinnati Parks’ Explore Nature! program many years ago. They were reconnected when Newport HS became involved with OAC. Kim is inspired by how the program has provided so many adventures and activities for students. She is most impressed with the freedom and self-reliance that is placed on the students as they learn about themselves and their capabilities. One of her favorite memories was seeing a few students in particular work together to set up a tent for the first time on our end of the year campout in May of 2015.

Kim is looking forward to serving on the OACGC board so that she can contribute to the mission of Outdoor Adventure Clubs.  “I whole heartedly believe in the mission of OAC and want to help the program grow and continue to succeed”, she says.

Welcome to the Board, Kim!  We’re so happy to have you.

2017-09-11T14:12:30+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, People & Partners, Staff Spotlight|

Natural Facts: Outdoor Health Impact

A connection with the outdoors is vitally important to your mental and physical health.  Science is proving that time spent outdoors can have a calming, rejuvenating effect on your mental and physical health.

Being in Nature Boosts Energy: Research in the Journal of Environmental Psychology shows that being surrounded by nature increases physical and mental energy. U.S. and Canadian psychologists conducted a series of studies asking participants to visualize certain images (including ones of nature), walk in outdoor and indoor environments, and look at various photos (including ones of natural elements)—and report how they were feeling in all situations. In each situation, men and women reported an increase in vitality when around natural elements (both visually and when physically surrounded by nature). This may be why, say the researchers, people are intrinsically drawn to natural settings.

Spending Time Outdoors Helps Us Age Gracefully: People age 70 or older who spend time outdoors every day report fewer sleep problems and aches and pains than those who stay indoors, according to a study published in the Journal of Aging Health.

Walking Outside Increases Creativity: Many people notice improved creativity after being active outdoors. And that feeling is backed by science: In one study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that walking out of doors helps boost inspiration and inventiveness.

Natural Surroundings Improve Concentration: Australian researchers found that taking 40-second “micro breaks” during the day to look at a green, natural environment can improve concentration—and performance—while working. The research, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, emphasizes the importance of taking nature breaks (going for a walk or even looking at a photo of a natural scene), particularly when stressed or mentally fatigued.

Nature Hikes Reduce Anxiety and Depression: A Stanford University study found that walking for 90 minutes in nature showed—through brain scans that track blood flow through the brain—decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with anxiety and depression. This study, the researchers say, shows that nature actually has the power to change the brain.

Nature Helps Recovery and Reduces Pain: Researcher Roger S. Ulrich, director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, conducted a study on patients who underwent surgery. He found that patients who had a view of trees healed faster, had less pain and had shorter hospital stays than those who had a view of a wall.

Seeing Nature Leads to Greater Work Satisfaction: Office workers with a view of nature outside their windows liked their jobs more, had less stress and greater work satisfaction and were healthier, according to research published in the journal Public Health Reports.

Contact with Nature Leads to Less Crime: A study published in the journal BioScience found that the greater the amount of greenspace in a community, the less crime that area had—even in areas with lower levels of education, income and other socioeconomic factors.

Walking in Forests Boosts Immunity: Japanese researchers wanted to explore the potential immune benefits of shinrin-yoku—so they studied the activity of people’s natural killer (NK) cells, a component of the immune system that fights cancer. They measured the cells before and after forest bathing. These natural killer cells were significantly increased after spending just a day out in nature. And the boost in immune cells remained for seven days after the trip ended.

Living Near Trees Makes Us Healthier: Researchers at the University of Chicago found that, controlled for socioeconomic factors, just living in areas with lots of trees can make a person healthier, both psychologically and physically. Lead researcher, Marc G. Berman, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, believes these health benefits could be the result of better air quality (trees help filter out pollution) and the fact that having trees nearby may encourage people to spend time outdoors.

Even the Color Green Has An Impact: Another study from the University of Essex found that viewing the color green—found abundantly in nature—results in fewer mood disturbances and less exertion when exercising (e.g. it makes exercise seem easier).

Read the full article from Mother Earth Living

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Natural Facts, OAC News, Uncategorized|

Conservation Corner: Diversity in Nature

A 2009 survey by the National Parks Service found that of all ethnic groups, African Americans were least likely to have visited one of our national parks in the preceding ten years. That’s a particularly soul-crushing stat when you consider that our nation’s very first park rangers were the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black military battalions who’d already risked their lives for a country that at times barely qualified them as humans. Yet these men were the ones who literally carved out the roads and trails in then-fledgling Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, then set about protecting both visitors and the land and wildlife as well. It was a mission made especially challenging in the face of that era’s entrenched racism.

Numbers aside, for us to assume that there is a fundamental disconnect between the outdoors and African Americans is wrongheaded and dangerous idea. And Rue Mapp is working to change all that.

Rue Mapp is an activist, writer, community organizer, member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s board of directors, a California State Park Commissioner. She’s the winner, alongside President Bill Clinton, of the 2014 National Wildlife Federation Communication award, been anointed one of the most influential African Americans in the country by The Root 100, and, in 2015, was one of Family Circlemagazine’s 20 Most Influential Moms. She’s also worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Let’s Move” program, and is a program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Development. The list goes on. But, primarily, she’s the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, where she oversees a specially trained volunteer leadership team who’s focus is inspiring and celebrating African American’s connections to, and leadership in, nature.

Read the full article in the Daily Beast


2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Conservation Corner, Director's Blog, OAC News|

Happy Trails: Campgrounds Opening

March and April mark the beginning of a new camping season so break out your backpacks and get outside.  Great Parks of Hamilton County will open several parks in the coming weeks.

Reservations can be made online at for Winton Woods and Miami Whitewater Forest Campgrounds at

A valid Great Parks of Hamilton County motor vehicle permit ($10 annual; $3 daily) is required to enter the parks. Armleder and Fernbank Parks are cooperative ventures with the Cincinnati Park Board; a Motor Vehicle Permit is not required.

For additional information, please visit or call 521-7275.


Winton Woods Campground opens March 4

Winton Woods Campground is set in a pine grove alongside Winton Woods Lake and is within easy walking distance of Winton Woods Harbor, and the boathouse, snack bar and wet playground. The campground is located approximately 20 minutes north of downtown Cincinnati and 30 minutes south of Kings Island amusement park.

More info about Winton Woods Campground


Miami Whitewater Forest Campground opens March 4

For a quiet, scenic spot to relax and set up camp, visit Miami Whitewater Forest Campground. Located 30 minutes northwest of downtown Cincinnati, this campground is set back in a wooded area on more than 4,000 acres in Miami Whitewater Forest within walking distance to a harbor and 85-acre lake. Each of the 46 sites is equipped with 30 amp electric hookups, picnic table and fire ring. A newly renovated shower building, playground and dump station are also located within the campground.

More info about Miami Whitewater Campground


Steamboat Bend Campground opens April 1

Steamboat Bend is conveniently located in 1,030 acre Woodland Mound on the east side of Cincinnati near the intersection of Route 52 and Nine Mile Road. Only 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati and five minutes from the Riverbend Music Center, this beautiful campground sits on the shores of the scenic Ohio River and features 55 tree-lined campsites, many with a panoramic view. Each site features water and 30 amp electric hookups, picnic table and fire ring. There is also a sanitary dump station located within the campground for registered campers use.

More info about Steamboat Bend Campground in Woodland Mound Park

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Happy Trails, OAC News|

Top Story: OACGC Sponsors 2016 Ohio Paddlefest

OACGC is excited to announce that we are the new sponsor and beneficiary of The Ohio River Paddlefest.  For 15 years, Paddlefest has been celebrating, protecting, and promoting the beauty of the Ohio River through the largest paddling trip in the nation.  Each summer, over 1,000 paddlers take to the Ohio, free of motorized traffic, to enjoy 8 miles of scenery along the Ohio and Kentucky shorelines.

This year, in celebration of Paddlefest’s 15th anniversary, the paddling course has been expanded to nearly 9 miles, starting at Schmidt Recreation Complex and ending at Gilday Riverside Park.  This new route will include a halfway stop in Covington, with an opportunity to explore the Licking River and the Mill Creek.

If you‘ve paddled this event before, come back this year – it’s all new! If you’ve never paddled the Ohio, come experience this tremendous asset to our community close-up!  For more information, visit the Paddlefest website (, and join OACGC on Saturday, August 6th to paddle for a cause!

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Local Headlines, OAC News, Uncategorized|

January Adventure Recap: Rock Climbing and Indoor Recreation

Winter arrived just in time for OACGC’s only indoor adventure of the year.  Over four weekends, bus loads of students enjoyed the amazing facilities of the University of Cincinnati’s Rec Center, including their 40’ rock climbing wall.  Morning activities also included basketball, dodgeball, and Zumba.  After lunch some students took to the pool to enjoy the lazy river, while others centered their minds and bodies with a yoga session.  The afternoon concluded with the traditional staff vs. student volleyball game.

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Monthly Adventures|

January Event Recap: 50 West Brewing Company

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our first happy hour fundraiser of 2016!  On Thursday, January 14th, 50 West Brewery kindly hosted OACGC as part of their monthly “Share the Road” event and contributed a generous portion of all sales to help support getting more urban teen out into nature.

OACGC offered an impressive kayak, paddle, and life vest raffle package thanks to Mark Bersani and Loveland Canoe and Kayak.  Congratulations to Justin Broyles, the winner of the raffle.  Justin is an elementary school teacher in Cincinnati Public who likes to kayak but was lacking his own boat.  Problem solved.  Congrats, Justin!

Be sure to join us next month on Thursday, February 4th at Taft’s Ale House in OTR, where OACGC and Green Umbrella’s Meet Me Outdoors action team will co-host Green Drinks, a monthly social gathering for people interested in local environmental issues and sustainability initiatives.  Roads, Rivers, and Trails will be supplying a “Cold Gear Package” for raffle.

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Events & Activities, Trail Blazing|

Conservation Corner: Cincinnati Zoo’s Living Classroom

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Living Classroom Education Access Fund provides an amazing way for students at under-resourced schools to get some valuable hands-on learning. Through this unique program, local children are able to visit the Zoo and Botanical Garden for free and even spend the night while they see how nature interacts during the day and at night.

According to WCPO, “Nearly 18,000 students from under-resourced schools took part in free educational field trips to the zoo last year. In addition, 855 students spent the night for free as part of the Nocturnal Adventure Program. The charitable program is designed to bridge the gap, making hands-on learning available to all students.”

Read More from WCPO Insider Here

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Conservation Corner, Director's Blog, OAC News|