You may know her as “Ali Upnorth,” a rising star in the freelance world of outdoor communicators. We are delighted that she, aka Ali Juten, contributes videos and stories to The WON regularly, especially focusing on the importance of the Project ChildSafe mission to promote firearms safety and education nationwide. However, you may not have heard of something else Ali wrapped her energies around last fall, called “HCC Outdoor Connect.”
According to its Facebook page, “HCC Outdoor Connect is a faith based, outdoor program with the purpose of empowering participation in archery, fishing, water sports, shooting sports and hunting.” Through the program – sponsored by partners from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Hermantown Community Church and Ali’s own business, Empower Outdoors LLC – people (age 10 and up) were invited to try outdoor skills and learn more about outdoors traditions. The program provided equipment and knowledgeable instructors to guide participants during each session.
We caught up with Ali – who is a busy entrepreneur and young mom these days – and asked her a few more questions about HCC Outdoor Connect.
The WON: Your family — I know they’re instrumental in your world. How do they support what you’re doing with HCC Outdoor Connect?
Ali Juten: My family is super supportive of me and all of my goals. For HCC Outdoor Connect, my dad (Jim), sister (Krista) and brother-in-law (Jeremy) volunteered each week to help me teach the archery classes. My mom (Kari), who has never deer hunted or shot a bow, decided to take the class herself to support me. And my husband (Nick) takes care of our baby while I’m at class.
The WON: You said most of the students are females. What was the age range and how many family units did you have? What’s was the breakdown of class categories (fishing, hunting, archery)?
There were about 7 family units – 3 youth boys attended regularly, 2 men attended regularly and the rest were female.
The WON: Please mention any people you want to mention on the team and why.
Ali Juten: Jennifer Crown is the person who applied for the grant on behalf of the Hermantown Community Church. The grant was awarded from the MN DNR to a faith based organization, and I was asked to put the program together. Since there were sometimes 2 classes going on at once, while I taught archery, I tapped into some great resources to teach some of the classes. Alex Comstock, owner of whitetaildna.com, taught about scouting and setting up a hunting spot; MN DNR Officer Kipp Duncan came in for a Q & A session; Charter Captain Kent Paulsen, of FishNorthMN, taught a class about fishing equipment and the basics for getting started; and Matt Haas, who is an archery engineer for Feradyne Outdoors, talked about archery equipment for hunting versus target archery.
The WON: The future — what does it hold?
Ali Juten: Currently, what I do is help small businesses in the outdoor industry with their digital content marketing and branding. But, I am truly passionate about helping people get started in the outdoors. That’s why I loved teaching archery and hunting for HCC Outdoor Connect. So, I guess you could say it is the 2nd layer to my business model. This specific program ended in early December, but I am working on putting together some separate fishing events through the winter, learning archery workshops and a potential “learn to turkey hunt” workshop in the spring. My goal of having Empower Outdoors LLC is to help conservation efforts as a whole by helping people learn enough basics to empower them to get outdoors.
The WON: Please will you tell us about any other projects you have in the works?
Ali Juten: I am also working on a new website, empoweroutdoors.com (coming soon). It will showcase workshops/events that I’m putting on as well as serve as a resource of information. So, stay tuned for that!
Follow HCC Connect and Empower Outdoors on Facebook.
Follow Ali on Instagram.
Visit Ali online.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com. View all posts by Barbara Baird