Press Room

MOB announces annual Trailblazer Awards, honoring innovation, leadership and collaboration in Maine’s Outdoor Industry

Portland, Maine (March 22, 2022) – At the Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB) annual meeting held last week at Sugarloaf, the organization presented its annual Trailblazer Awards. The ceremony honored the winners of the Outdoor Innovation, Outdoor Industry Leader of the Year, and Outdoor Brand Collaboration awards. 

MOB Outdoor Innovation Award – recognizes a brand or organization for an innovative product or service that was successfully brought to market in the last year

Awarded to: Opolis for their StokedPlastic™️ collection

For the StokedPlastic™️ collection, Opolis founder James Merrill worked with the manufacturing and research labs at the University of Southern Maine to develop a patent-pending blend of recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (rPET) made from ocean and landfill plastic water bottles. The combination of durability and surface refinement Opolis is achieving with rPET was previously only achieved with virgin plastics. Eventually, this technology will be used to make other durable goods. This work with recycled plastic water bottles is industry-leading and has the opportunity to do a massive amount of good in the world. Opolis is sold at L.L.Bean, Sea Bags, and other Maine/New England-based locations as well as online at  

“Our achieved and continued success is directly associated with our partnership with MOB and other Maine based organizations, universities, brands and individuals,” said Opolis founder James Merrill. “Most importantly we are excited to be among other Maine based brands pushing sustainable practices and pioneering change to not only help our coastlines and planet, but also communities directly impacted by plastic pollution.”

MOB Outdoor Industry Leader of the Year Award – recognizes an individual who’s had an outsized impact on their business or organization and whose actions have demonstrably strengthened Maine’s outdoor recreation industry

Awarded to: Brenna Herridge, Director of Sales at Sugarloaf 

Since Brenna Herridge took on the position of Director of Sales at Sugarloaf, the mountain resort has welcomed many exciting events, including the return of NEMBAFest, August 5-7, 2022,  and the new Enduro World Series, August 20-21, 2022 (and 2023). The Enduro World Series is the highest level of enduro racing in the world and one of the hardest titles to win in the sport of mountain biking. She and her team have also been instrumental in expanding the bike trail system at the resort.  

“Brenna’s passion, expertise and high level of engagement during the bidding process has had a direct impact on Sugarloaf being selected as the host destination for these and other signature events – a win-win for Maine sports tourism,” said Sheila Brennan Nee, Director of the Maine Sports Commission

Outdoor Brand Collaboration Award – recognizes brands and/or organizations that have, working together, developed an outstanding product or service in the past year

Awarded to: Teens to Trails and the Department of Education WAVES (Wilderness and Virtual Engagement for Students) program

Teens to Trails partnered with the Maine Department of Education on a new initiative called WAVES: Wilderness and Virtual Engagement for Students. The program’s mission was to start outdoor clubs at middle and high schools so students could get outside, take off masks, make new friends, explore new places and feel their world expanding during a very isolating time. 

Teenagers are losing their connection with nature at an accelerated pace, yet outdoor clubs create inclusive, non-performance-based outdoor experiences that break down social barriers and build lifelong habits of wellness. WAVES funding allowed schools to start outdoor programs and Teens to Trails provided training, gear, and pre-planned outings.

Through the WAVES + Teens to Trails partnership, 83 schools across every county in Maine now have programs that offer equitable access to the outdoors for their students. The partnership more than doubled the number of outing clubs in Maine schools in a single year. 

“We are so impressed by the creativity and commitment of Maine teachers to connect their students to the outdoors,” said Alicia Heyburn, Executive Director of Teens to Trails. “The fun experiences that students are having helps them be curious and care about nature and builds skills that can lead to exciting jobs in Maine’s outdoor recreation economy. We are so grateful to Maine Outdoor Brands for this award.”

The MOB Trailblazer Awards were open to Maine-based businesses, organizations, or individuals who are involved in the outdoor industry, including, but not limited to, manufacturers, marketers, and retailers of outdoor gear and equipment, outdoor experience providers, and inspiring outdoor adventures. After an open call for nominations from the industry, the MOB Board of Directors selected the finalists and winners who received an engraved belt ax from MOB member Brant & Cochran of South Portland. Past Trailblazer Award winners include the Portland Gear Hub, Freedom Boat Club, Maine Island Trail Association, and Henry Gilbert.


About Maine Outdoor Brands: 

Formed in 2017, Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB) works to unite and provide a voice for Maine’s outdoor industry in order to strengthen Maine’s outdoor recreation brand and economy. MOB is committed to seeing Maine-based outdoor product, service, and retail brands thrive. To learn more about MOB and the brands involved visit