President's Message: Getting Outdoors

David C. Jones

Photo of David Jones Kayaking with one-armed paddle

There’s nothing like spending several days and nights roughing it in the great outdoors to rejuvenate mind, spirit, and body.  I was fortunate to draw a Sambar Deer hunt permit for the St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I spent several days on a primitive tent camping trip with fellow FDOA board member, George Coaker. 

We had a great time on this beautiful, remote barrier island that is justo off shore of Apalachicola, FL.  Our adventure trip was a great reminder and reinforcement of what and why we do what we do at the FDOA. We embrace the premise that nature is essential to the health, economic prosperity, quality of life, and social well being of all Americans.  A connection to nature is very important and a recent National and Florida based research project has data and findings that are causing us to rethink  our efforts to open up the outdoors for all.

The “Nature of Americans” is a recent comprehensive study of nearly 12,000 adults and 8 to 12 year old children and parents.  This report shows the disconnect from Nature and recommendations for reconnecting.  It reveals how we need to rethink how we work to connect and reconnect people with nature. This work by Dr. Stephen Kellert and by D. J. Case and associates showed us the alarming trend of less Nature based recreation.  “Americans are spending more time indoors and using electronic media more than ever before.  At the same time there is growing evidence that human health and well being depend on beneficial contact with nature.” We may need to rethink how we provide and advocate for outdoor activities and our relationship with nature.  This study identifies significant and important strategies that we can adopt into our programs and promotions.  

  1. We need to pay attention to the existing concerns about our younger generation’s disconnect from Nature and we need to help adjust their lifestyles
  2. We must always emphasis the need for regular and recurrent engagement with the outdoors and wildlife
  3. We need to promote nature, not only as a place for experiences, but also as a place for involvement and caring.
  4. We need to assure people of all ages and abilities that time and Nature can be and aught to be a social activity.
  5. We need to recruit and invite pre-existing groups to participate in our programs.
  6. We need to reach adults through their participation with children
  7. We need to support the involvement of mentors other than just parents and include all family and friends
  8. We need to convey that Nature connection can happen in the near community and doesn’t need to be an extensive trip
  9. We need to deepen local experiences near home.
  10. We can tie outdoor opportunities to existing activities
  11. We should provide safe and satisfactory places to recreate and reach out to minorities and non- typical users
  12. We need to lower the perceived cost of participation
  13. We should promote conservation as a way to improve quality of life
  14. We should be cautious of assumptions
  15. We must tailor programs to people in all stages of life

To be most effective with all of these objectives, we must rethink how to best motivate people to participate in active outdoor leisure.  It will require new partnerships and continued collaboration with all sectors of American society.  For more information and details about this research project, go to https//

Active Leisure for Life!

Intro to E-newsletterExecutive Director's Message:
  FDOA - Annual Report

Laurie LoRe-Gussak, MBA, IOM, CAE

Please take a few minutes to review our annual report!




SportsAbility Tallahassee 2018
Mark Your Calendar for April 12-14, 2018!

Final Day at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens!Photo of Man Sit Water-skiing

The partnership Florida Disabled Outdoors Association has with Florida State Parks continues to provide access to the outdoors for people of all abilities. We are excited to report that this tradition will continue with the final day of the 2018 SportsAbility being held at Alfred B. Maclay State Park in Tallahassee. Conveniently located right off Interstate 10, this park is a beautiful setting for accessible inclusive recreation. Throughout the year, people enjoy swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, nature trails and more and now SportsAbility!

SportsAbility enhances the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living and  providing first-hand access to resources and activities designed to encourage participation regardless of age or ability level. People are able to try everything from sit water-skiing to rock wall climbing, martial arts and much more!

Participants of all abilities learn about the value of recreation and active leisure for everyone – especially people with disabilities. People discover the latest in equipment, trends, and resources. SportsAbility provides an opportunity for people to network with people with disabilities, resource providers, and community organizations. There is NO CHARGE to participants thanks to our generous sponsors.

SportsAbility Registration is now open!

Dates / Times, Maps, More

Horseback Riding for People with a Spinal Cord Injury or other Disability

By: Cole Willenborg

Horseback riding can be therapeutic and adapted so people of all abilities can enjoy it. Therapeutic riding helps people become stronger mentally and physically and helps people experience personal growth.   Horses walk in a similar way to humans giving riders the ability to experience a motion similar to walking.  The ability to mimic the motion of walking has led to improvement of their cognitive and sensory abilities.  

One example of a riding program is the not-for-profit organization Hands and Hearts for Horses in Thomasville, Georgia. It is designed for individuals with a wide range of abilities. Hands and Hearts for Horses started with the co-founders Terrell and Karen Singletary sharing their love for horses and helping others. Their therapeutic riding program is taught by internationally certified riding instructors whose primary focus is to help the rider achieve their personal goals, but more importantly to provide a joyful experience for the rider.  Goals riders may have include steering the horse, trotting, posting and two point over poles. Riders are given opportunities to participate in local and state shows. Susie Shin, Program Director for Hands and Hearts for Horses said, “ My favorite part about being with this organization is being able to see improvement in the population's overall well-being”.
For more information on horseback riding in your area, visit

Information for People with a Spinal Cord Injury:

English / Spanish

Information for People with a Brain Injury:
English / Spanish

Please help someone with a disability learn photo of a boy hugging a horse
how to benefit from physical activity!

You may think that small donation won't make a difference, but it truly does! Each person contributing a small amount makes an impact on someone's life forever!  Please donate whatever you can to help a person with a disability experience the benefits of the physical activities.


Donations may also be mailed to:

Florida Disabled Outdoors Association
2475 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 205
Tallahassee, FL 32301

 FDOA gratefully accepts tax deductible donations and in-kind gifts as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. (Federal ID# 59-3051552)