The Michigan Outdoor Summit is a gathering for all sectors of the outdoor economy in Michigan to connect, learn, grow, and build together with a vision for the future, health, and vitality of Michigan’s outdoors.
Through programming, networking, and outdoor activities, this event focuses on how we strengthen our communities and the outdoor economy and improve health and quality of life for all Michiganders.
We’re working to bring outdoor companies and organizations across the state together to solve the unique challenges Michigan faces and create a thriving outdoor economy for years to come.
Where to stay
Hotel Indigo Traverse City
263 W Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI 49684
We’ve teamed up with Hotel Indigo to bring you a great deal! A block of standard rooms is available at a discounted rate of $169 per night for Monday-Wednesday. Please note that rates will increase after September 6th.
Registration + Grub | 12:00PM-1:00PM
Attending one of our half-day technical sessions? Sign in at Hotel Indigo and snag a boxed lunch before attending your session.
Technical Sessions | 1:00PM-4:00PM
Advanced Topics in Land Protection + Stewardship | 1:00PM-4:00PM | RM: Northern Lights
Join advanced land practitioners from around the state in a half-day session on advanced topics in land management, where we will delve into innovative strategies and best practices for optimizing land use and conservation. Boxed lunch included.
Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
Little Traverse Conservancy
Six Rivers Land Conservancy
Advanced Topics in Trail Development + Stewardship | 1:00PM-4:00PM | RM: Winding Trail
Join advanced trail practitioners from around the state in a technical session on advanced topics in trail management, where we will delve into innovative strategies and best practices for optimizing trail use and development. Boxed lunch included.
Session Sponsor: AllTrails
River Restoration Guided Kayak Float | 1:00PM-4:00PM | Off-Site: Boardman River
Join the Grand Traverse Conservation District for a Guided Kayak River Float of the restored Boardman-Ottaway River and witness what dedication and strong community partnerships can do to heal the earth. Witness first-hand the result of 10 years of restoration efforts, which include the planting of 30,000 native trees and shrubs by local volunteers and a young diverse forest growing where a barren “bottomland” once stood following dam removal. Now, Brown Bridge Quiet Area is a beautiful 1,300-acre parkland featuring over 6 miles of trails framing a restored Boardman-Ottaway River, which is a state-designated Natural River and Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. Hikers, anglers, paddlers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all types treasure the newly restored river as one of the most outstanding natural features of the Grand Traverse Region.
Limited to 24 paddlers. Kayaks/canoes are provided or bring your own. Grab a boxed lunch from the Hotel before heading out.
Steve Largent – Conservation Team Coordinator, Grand Traverse Conservation District
Intro to Wilderness Medicine | 1:00PM-4:00PM | Hotel Indigo
Join a Lead Instructor at Great Lakes Wilderness Emergency Response Training, and address what a certified Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician learn in class and what their scope of practice entails.
Learn about the most common injuries encountered when hiking, kayaking, or mountain biking; what to do with major open wounds that need bleeding control; ankle sprains/fractures; and upper extremity injuries from falling onto an outstretched arm. Finish off with tourniquet work along with packing wounds, cleaning wounds, and dressing changes.
This session has limited space (maximum of 24) and requires a minimum of 8 participants. This is not a certification program.
Steve Huisman – Lead Instructor, Great Lakes Wilderness Emergency Response Training
The Boardmen Review Fall Release Party | 7:00PM-9:00PM
Join us for the Fall Issue Release party of the Boardman Review: the creative culture & outdoor lifestyle journal of Northern MI. Celebrate the new issue with other outdoor enthusiasts while making new friends and hearing from inspirational outdoor leaders throughout the evening.
Hosted at Loco Boys Brewing.
mI Outdoor Summit
Micro-Adventures | 8:00AM-10:00AM
**Disclaimer – minimum participant for morning Micro-Adventures is 8 individuals. Less than 8, the activity lead has full authority to cancel.**
Trail to Preserve Run | 8:00AM-9:30AM | Off-Site: Leelanau Trail
Lace up your running shoes and join Sammie Bennett for a 3-mile trail run down the Leelanau Trail to the DeYoung Natural Area. Depending on the number of attendees — two groups may be created, with one being a “party pace” run.
Activity Lead: Sammie Bennett – Athlete
Activity Sponsor: AllTrails
Backcountry Skills | 8:00AM-9:30AM | Off-Site: Backcountry North
The backcountry is a place of exploration, adventure, and self-discovery. However, it can also be a dangerous and challenging environment. Join staff from Backcountry North in developing the skills that provide you with the confidence to explore and enjoy the outdoors to the fullest. Adventure held at Backcountry North – 2820 US-31, Traverse City, MI 49684.
Activity Lead: Backcountry North
Activity Sponsor: Leelanau Conservancy
Miller Creek Preserve Hike+Hike Prep | 8:30AM-10:00AM | Off-Site: MI Moves Fitness
Join MI Moves Fitness for an easy morning hiking experience at Miller Creek Preserve, where we will explore the scenic trails, witness some fall colors, and enjoy the splendor of the town trail network. Begin with a 10-minute tutorial focused on preparing your body for outdoor adventure and ensuring that you can fully enjoy the 50-minute trek through the landscape. Where: 2475 Dairy Sq. Traverse City, MI 49684
Activity Lead: Kyler Bradley + Aaron Hayes – Owners, MI Moves Fitness
Registration + Picnic Brunch + Partner Films | 10:00aM-11:00aM
Hit up the registration table, snag some food, and hang with friends. Need coffee before schmoozing? Relax and sip your brew while watching a few exciting partner films.
Shakeout Sessions| 11:00aM-12:30PM
High-Fives + Thank You’s | 11:00AM-11:15AM | Main Room
Welcoming remarks from your hosts, and thank you to our sponsors.
State Of Our Outdoors | 11:15AM-11:45AM | Main Room
Hear from Rich Harper, Director of Government Affairs at Outdoor Industry Association, on emerging policy and advocacy issues within the outdoor economy and how you can get involved. Rich will also share the answer to the eternal question of “Are outdoor people really happier?”
The Power of Nature | 11:45AM-12:15PM | Main Room
Get inspired by Grand Rapids native and athlete Sammie Bennett who is on a mission to create a more inclusive and welcoming community for all runners, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals. Sammie’s mission was born out of her journey in which she found the courage to share her mental health journey, which included a poor relationship with food and running, coming out as queer, and navigating the confusing amounts of information on how women should approach their training. What started as a simple hobby to get in shape has propelled Sammie to find more alignment in her life and help others do the same.
Breakout sessions one | 1:00PM-2:00PM
Managing Trail Behavior Through Data and Communication / Park Bench
How do we reach our trail users with the most accurate information? Can a private business help public and nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions to provide a safe and impactful outdoor experience? AllTrails is leading the way in leveraging its reach of 55 million users to make an impact to help keep people safe and protect our incredible public lands. Learn about partners in Michigan and throughout the country that have been participating in the free AllTrails Public Lands Program to improve the information consumed by trail users.
Pitt Grewe, Head of Public Land Partnerships, AllTrails
Cece Kirkwood, Program Manager, Public Lands, AllTrails
Session Sponsor: AllTrails
Outdoor Infrastructure for All Abilities / Northern Lights
Inclusive outdoor spaces are essential for promoting equal access, enhancing social participation, and fostering a sense of belonging among diverse populations. The discussion will delve into key considerations, challenges, and innovative solutions in creating outdoor environments that cater to the needs of individuals with disabilities.
Dan Lord – Manager of Grant Programs, Michigan DNR
MaryKay O’Donnell – Midwest Senior Program Manager, Land Trust Alliance
Brad Hastings – Advocacy + ADA Coordinator, The Disability Network West Michigan
Moderator: Tina Nowakowski – Director of Communication + Strategic Partnerships, mParks
Session Sponsor: Porous Pave
Building Sustainable Outdoor Communities / Campfire
Embark on a journey towards building thriving, healthy, and sustainable outdoor communities by harnessing the combined power of natural infrastructure and education. This illuminating session will explore how integrating nature-based solutions with effective educational initiatives can lead to stronger, more resilient communities that prioritize environmental stewardship and well-being.
Theresa Tejada – Program Specialist II, National Kidney Foundation of Michigan
Jill Sill – Executive Director, Norte
Session Sponsor: Huron Pines + Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy
From Concept to Creation / Winding Trail
The outdoor economy presents countless opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to bring their passion for the outdoors to life with new or redesigned gear, experiences, and partnerships. This session will explain Michigan’s overall statewide strategy to support innovators and businesses as they navigate the intricacies of envisioning, prototyping, testing, and manufacturing products –from electric vehicles to hard goods and outdoor apparel — right here in Michigan.
Lionel Vargas Cruz, Director of Operations, Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center
Tanya Markos-Vanno, Development & Operations Manager, Pure Michigan Business Connect
David Ollila, CEO and Founder, Shophouse Park
Moderator: Brad Garmon – Senior Strategic Advisor & Executive Director, Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
Session Sponsor: Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Breakout sessions Two| 2:15PM-3:15PM
Closing the Nature Gap / Northern Lights
Nearly one-third of Michiganders lack access to quality open spaces near their homes. In cities across the state, parks, trails, and open spaces enhance property values, increase tax revenues, attract homebuyers and knowledge workers, and boost economic development. Open spaces in urban areas are key to the future of our public lands, for without that initial introduction to nature and its benefits, the next generation of Michiganders will never become invested in their health and well-being.
Alex Galloway – Grant Coordinator, Michigan DNR
TBD – Outdoor Industry Association
Herman Jenkins – Trails Manager, Friends of the Rouge
Moderator: Megan Motil, Founder, Parallel Solutions
Session Sponsors: Land Trust Alliance + Outdoor Industry Association
Passion + Purpose / Winding Trail
Join members of the Great Lakes Business Network as they share their journeys of transforming passion into purpose as they work to build their brands and safeguard the Great Lakes. Discover how these entrepreneurs have harnessed their love for the environment to protect and preserve the lakes while nurturing the blue economy and promoting outdoor recreation in Michigan. Their captivating stories will ignite your passion for Great Lakes stewardship and inspire you to action!
Beth Price – Owner, Beth Price Photography
John Mueller – Owner, Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
Ella Skrocki – Co-Owner, Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak
Josh Baker – Owner, The Outfitter of Harbor Springs
Moderator: Zoe Zeerip, Program Coordinator, Great Lakes Business Network
Career Development and Entrepreneurship Pathways for the Outdoor Economy / Campfire
As the outdoor economy continues to flourish, the demand for skilled and knowledgeable leaders has never been greater. This session focuses on innovation in higher education to support career pathways in the outdoor industry, including interdisciplinary certificates for traditional degree-seeking students and an entrepreneurial support ecosystem for outdoor product innovators.
Dave Nyberg – Executive Director, Business Engagement and Economic Development – Northern Michigan University
Joe Thiel – CEO, Innovate Marquette SmartZone
Eric Prue – Former NMU Student – Entrepreneur – Design Coordinator, Innovate Marquette SmartZone
Session Sponsor: Northern Michigan University
Our Shared Narrative / Park Bench
Combining the power of storytelling, conservation, and the premiere of the short film “Birds of Paradise.” This session highlights the world of migratory birds, featuring the work of Alison Vilag, a dedicated migration bird counter. Presented in collaboration with The Boardman Review and Points North Podcast, this session promises to be a captivating celebration of our natural resources, wildlife, and the stories we share.
Alison Vilag – Environmental Writer and Bird Migration Expert
Nick Loud – Co-Founder, The Boardman Review
Dan Wanschura – Host and Executive Producer, Points North Podcast
Moderator: Chris Loud – Co-Founder, The Boardman Review
Session Sponsor: Grand Traverse Conservation District + TART Trails
Takeout Sessions | 3:30PM-4:00PM
Double Rainbow — What Does it All Mean? / Northern Lights
Like the elusive double rainbow, you might be wondering what it all means and if we’re really talking about the same things. Choose a room, not a side as professionals from parks, conservation, trails, local businesses, governmental entities, healthcare, and educational facilities come together and discuss what they learned and what’s next for our outdoors.
Stacy Bare — Executive Director, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
Session Sponsor: Parallel Solutions
Community as the Catalyst: Collaboration for Growth / Winding Trail
A community’s strength lies in its ability to harness collective potential. Join your outdoor community members for a conversation around community-driven growth through workforce development. Learn how communities can become incubators for talent, supporting aspiring professionals through mentorship, networking, certifications, and resource sharing.
Annie Linhart – Operations + Outreach Manager, Viristar
Session Sponsor: Parallel Solutions
Tackling Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes / Park Bench
Every year, millions of pounds of plastic waste infiltrate the Great Lakes. Unravel the complexities within the freshwater ecosystem, discover actionable solutions that empower communities to drive positive change in this critical environment, and learn how to be part of the solution to protect these vital waterways for future generations.
Presenter: Jackson Riegler – Founder, Oshki
Session Sponsor: Parallel Solutions
NA Happy Hour | 4:00PM
Unwind after the day’s brain dump and share the stoke with all your new best friends! Sponsored by Moosejaw, and non-alcoholic beverages provided by Blake’s Hard Cider.
Friends of ours you should meet while attending the summit!
Many thanks and High-fives to our sponsors!