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Adventure Travel Pioneer George Wendt: A Story of Family & Conservation

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Nearly a decade since the Adventure Travel Trade Association honored him with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, O.A.R.S. President and Founder, George Wendt, hasn’t stopped doing what he loves for one minute.

The latest video from O.A.R.S. takes a brief but intimate look at George’s journey over nearly 50 years. It’s the story of a man with a pioneering spirit, steadfast determination and a family company with a commitment to conservation at its core.

George found his calling on the rivers of the West in the summer of 1962.  That’s when he and a friend built a raft out of inner tubes and planking and floated down the Colorado River through Glen Canyon.  In the short years that followed, as George spent his summers exploring the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and other western rivers like the Yampa, it became clear to him that these special places needed to be shared, fought for, and preserved for future generations. The drowning of Glen Canyon had delivered a profound sense of loss for George, and in 1969, O.A.R.S. (originally Gooch-Wendt Expeditions) officially started running professional rafting trips in the Grand Canyon. But that was just the beginning.

George has run first descents on some of the world’s most legendary rivers, fought to include California’s Tuolumne River in the National Wild and Scenic River System and helped to establish the Upper Navua Conservation Area in Fiji. He has also testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on River Preservation, and through O.A.R.S., has donated more than $70,000 per year to dozens of river conservation efforts.

To date, George has shared the magic of a river trip, directly and indirectly, with more than a half-million people, contributing—in partnership with O.A.R.S.’ guests—more than $3.5 million in donations and fees toward the preservation of the environment and to various conservation initiatives since 1969.

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