Catching up with STAND Grand Prize Winner Leslie Freeman of Wild Science Explorers

Fly fishing schoolThe Hybrid.Stand contest was a KEEN initiative in 2008 that awarded $150,000 to fund different innovative ideas centered on sustainability. There were three overall categories, Stand Up, Stand Out and Stand For, each having a grand prize of $25,000 and 5 runner-up prizes in the amount of $5,000.

Leslie Freeman was one of three grand prize winners; she won $25,000 to put towards her non-profit organization, Wild Science Explorers. Established in 2000, Wild Science Explorers is an organization which offers river-based science courses providing children with hands-on learning. The organization tries to focus on serving the needs of low income youth who normally would not have the opportunity to participate in such types of activities

The outdoors become their classroom as participants take a 3-6 day paddle trip down the Salmon and Snake Rivers where they study various things including fisheries, stream ecology, water quality and botany, to name a few.

This is what Leslie had to say about how the STAND Award helped Wild Science Explorers:

“The KEEN award has made an incredible difference in the day to day operations of Wild Science Explorers. The award enabled the purchase of all the gear necessary to go down the river. Now that we don’t have to borrow or rent gear, we can focus more on program delivery. This year, we created a unit that integrated fly fishing and aquatic insect ecology in addition to the activities we already do on fire ecology, noxious weeds, Native American history, and geology.

Paddle Boat

KEEN funds resulted in the purchase of two fully outfitted oar boats, a trailer to haul our gear, a paddleboat and all sorts of river camp equipment. Our program is more sustainable in the long-term because of KEEN. This year our trips went incredibly well—the participants had an amazing time and did a myriad of different activities. We worked with youth from the Boys and Girls Club, Boise Parks and Recreation, Teens Restoring Earth’s Environment and several Boise area high schools and junior highs.”


To learn more about Wild Science Explorers, please visit