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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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WOLI and Backcountry Squatters Formal Raises Money for Gender Inclusion in Outdoor Spaces

The formal raised scholarship funds for members of the clubs and provided live music and entertainment for the attendees.
Members+of+the+Women%E2%80%99s+Outdoor+Leadership+Initiative+and+the+Backcountry+Squatters+at+the+Sugar+House+Garden+Center+to+celebrate+gender+inclusion+in+the+outdoors+at+their+annual+formal+on+March+29%2C+2024.+%28Courtesy+of+Clara+Coffey%29
Clara Coffey
Members of the Women’s Outdoor Leadership Initiative and the Backcountry Squatters at the Sugar House Garden Center to celebrate gender inclusion in the outdoors at their annual formal on March 29, 2024. (Courtesy of Clara Coffey)

 

Members of the Women’s Outdoor Leadership Initiative and the Backcountry Squatters came together on March 29 at the Sugar House Garden Center to celebrate gender inclusion in the outdoors at their annual formal.

The night joined group members from the University of Utah and the Salt Lake community to raise funds for scholarships and events that increase the representation of women and nonbinary people in the outdoors. Attendees showed their support by dressing up and making their way to the dance floor and enjoying live music from local bands Jack and the Fun-Guys and The Ten O’ One Band.

WOLI and Backcountry Squatters

WOLI and Backcountry Squatters are both committed to getting women and nonbinary representation in the outdoors.

According to WOLI’s website, the group’s mission is to “create a community of self-identifying women on campus to support, inspire, and empower each other while gaining leadership skills, confidence, and safety in the outdoors.”

Backcountry Squatters’ website states the group is “committed to fostering participation, leadership and inclusivity among women and gender-queer folks within the outdoor industry and community.”

WOLI and Backcountry Squatters host events like rafting and climbing courses, backpacking trips, outdoor movie nights and panel discussions. The groups help their members build connections to help them get outside while teaching them skills to feel confident in their recreation.

Claire Landberg, a kinesiology major at the U and member of WOLI, said her membership in the group has helped her discover new hobbies.

“To be able to just feel confident in my skills and have a bunch of leaders who are just so, you know, certified but so humble and great teachers,” Landberg said. “And getting to meet people who wanted the same things as me — it’s just seriously the best club ever.”

Raising Funds While Having Fun

The WOLI and Backcountry Squatters formal is a recurring annual event. Clara Coffey, president of WOLI and biology major at the U, said the groups’ mutual goals make their collaboration easy.

All proceeds from ticket sales go towards trips, clinics and skills programs hosted throughout the year along with funding scholarships for members. Scholarships cover tuition, fees and rentals for outdoor education events, eliminating barriers to participation.

Coffey said they have chosen to host a formal as a fundraiser because it is a fun way to get people excited and involved in their cause.

“I think that nobody’s going to say no to a party,” Coffey said. “I guess we were just trying to come up with something that would be feasible to put together that people would also want to come to so that it can be a lot of fun.”

Tory Peters is the co-president of Backcountry Squatters and an atmospheric science major at the U. They said they wanted to organize an event where everyone could be welcome.

“It’s an awesome event because it’s inclusive to anyone in the community,” Peters said. “So, students and non-students and any gender. It lets people show their support and support us even if they don’t fall into the category of people we cater to.”

Landberg said she enjoyed the event because it allowed members to get together in a different environment than they’re used to.

“You see a lot of people in like outdoor gear, or you know, covered in dust depending on what the trip is,” Landberg said. “So getting to see everyone kind of at the end of the year dressed up and seeing everyone you’ve met from events and trips over the past year, like all coming together for one event. I think it’s very fun.”

 

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@ElleCrossleyy

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About the Contributor
Elle Crossley, News Writer
(she/her) Elle Crossley started as a news writer at the Daily Utah Chronicle in 2024. She is pursuing a degree in Communications with an emphasis in journalism at the University of Utah. She grew up in Layton, Utah which has made her passion finding the local people, businesses and events that make Utah special. She enjoys spending time outside through hiking, skiing and running. In her free time, she loves to spend time with friends and traveling to new places.

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