Press Release

Longtime Partner REI Donates 250 Sustainable Ponchos to NatureBridge, Ensuring All Kids Feel at Home in the Outdoors

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October 3, 2019
Contact: Annie Schuler

San Francisco, CA — NatureBridge is thrilled to announce the donation of 250 “Outdoors for Everyone Ponchos” to our Olympic National Park campus from critical and longtime partner REI.

The origin of the poncho project began in February 2018 during an Innovation Days event where REI Senior Innovation Engineer Steve Nagode was connected with NatureBridge. It was there he discovered a problem that needed solving. Too often, access to the outdoors is hindered by cost. Outdoor clothing, footwear and outer layers like rain gear are expensive, making enjoying the outdoors or even stepping outside to explore in the first place cost-prohibitive.

At NatureBridge, we aim to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion among all of our students—we believe it is essential for learning. At NatureBridge in Olympic, that means feeling comfortable in the outdoors, equipped with the proper gear for the often inclement Pacific Northwest weather. Recognizing the need for durable, protective rain jackets for NatureBridge students, Steve sought an innovative way to create ponchos from recycled material.

Crafted from fabric that is functionally fit but cosmetically flawed, the Outdoors for Everyone Poncho project was completed by Vietnamese factory Sports City. Upon hearing of the initiative to keep NatureBridge students dry, the managers of Sports City donated their labor to creating 250 ponchos in two different sizes.

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer and the nation’s largest consumer co-op. Each year, REI invests millions in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.

This season, NatureBridge students are the beneficiaries of the project, which connects directly to REI’s mission of inspiring, educating and outfitting for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. NatureBridge students who arrive to Olympic without raincoats will be able to stay dry with an Outdoors for Everyone Poncho that’s large enough to wear over a backpack, thanks to Steve and REI’s innovation, design and generosity. 

“We decided to work together with NatureBridge because they had a need, and we had the materials and designs. At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived. We know that getting people outside comfortably requires great gear, and this project pairs the two,” said REI Senior Innovation Engineer Steve Nagode. “It really is quite a win for all involved, NatureBridge and the students, REI, Sports City and even Mother Earth.”

In addition to reducing waste, REI is helping provide the opportunity for more NatureBridge students to connect with the beauty, uniqueness and fragility of our planet. 

Founded as Yosemite Institute in 1971, today NatureBridge welcomes more than 700 schools and 30,000 students and teachers each year. After nearly 50 years of teaching and inspiring students, NatureBridge has provided life-changing experiences for more than 1 million participants and is a national leader in the field of environmental education. 
To learn more about NatureBridge and its programs, visit