Inner City Outings, is a Sierra Club volunteer extension that provides opportunities for youth to explore nature and travel outdoors.
“The goal and the mission of ICO is simple: We want to get as many kids outside and into nature as possible,” said Andrew Jenkins, development coordinator for the International Rescue Committee and trip leader for the ICO.
The Sierra Club has more than 50 ICO groups nationwide. They focus on helping underprivileged children visit natural areas that they wouldn't be able to explore otherwise. For many of these kids, such trips would not be possible, because of their family's low income, Jenkins said.
Tucson's ICO partners with existing school groups and youth programs to provide guided tours of nature.
“By doing that, it teaches them to appreciate...explore and protect the natural environment,” Jenkins said.
He said, in 2012, the Tucson ICO took 79 trips with about 450 students.
Students involved in these trips include refugees brought to the U.S. by the [International Rescue Committee] (http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-tucson-az), which provides opportunities for refugees to live and thrive in the country.
Prayash Sangraula, originally from Nepal, and Asha Adam, originally from Sudan, both got to visit Mount Lemmon thanks to ICO.
ICO emerged in 1976, after the San Francisco Bay Sierra Club Chapter began to brainstorm on ways they could reach out to schools and impact the students in a positive way.
Another group that motives children to explore the outdoors is the Ironwood Tree Experience, focusing on ages 12-19.
Ashley Grove is a journalism student and an intern for Arizona Public Media
This story is part of Arizona Public Media's week-long series on poverty.