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AVA — When Murielle Gaither and her husband moved to her grandmother’s farm in Missouri, her family was looking for additional ways to earn money on the farm. They put their heads together and designed a way to share the outdoor opportunities they love, such as camping and fishing, with other families.

“That’s how Outside360 was born,” Gaither said.

Their idea gave birth to Outside360, a new web-based sharing platform similar to Airbnb. The difference is that they offer outdoor opportunities such as camping, hunting, hiking, visiting a farm, horseback riding, canoeing and boating, classes, workshops and much more.

Southern Illinois landowners and farmer visiting Scratch Brewing Company on Saturday afternoon had the chance to hear about Outside360.

Outside360 offers a landowners and farmers a free listing of outdoor opportunities and connects them with people looking for those experiences. What kind of experiences are listed? Gaither said just about anything.

Although the site is modeled after other sharing economy sites, it has some differences. Hosts can offer “extras” for an additional charge. For example, if you are renting a campsite on a farm, guests can add a farm experience, like milking a cow or meeting baby goats, for an additional fee. If the host likes baking, he or she can add fresh, home-baked bread or muffins. Have a firepit? Add a fire with firewood and a s’mores kit.

The site also allows classes, workshops and events to be added, including heritage crafts. It could be class on learning to crochet or knit. It could be a farm-to-table dinner or vegan cooking. The possibilities are almost endless.

An avid hunter could offer a guided hunt for beginners. A fisherman who owns a pond could offer fishing equipment as an add-on.

“We designed a site that goes above and beyond what is available,” Gaither said. “It’s a win-win for all kinds of people.”

The current template is very flexible to fit a variety of situations and experiences. If the category a landowner is considering is not available, he or she may contact the Gaithers through the website to suggest additional categories.

The site is easily shareable on social media and by email.

How does it work?

Landowners, farmers and other hosts create a profile and list their property and experience free of charge. Potential guests visit the site and choose an experience. They book it online through a secure site. They are charged a 10 percent fee for using the site, plus the cost of the booking. When a host is paid, Outside360 keeps five percent.

For example, a guided hike and picnic in Shawnee National Forest for a group is booked at a fee of $100. The guests pay $110. The host would receive $95. Outside 360 makes $15 for that booking.

“Much of the traffic to our site has come from the Southern Illinois region, and we are targeting land and property owners in the area,” Gaither said. “We have found that the folks in Southern Illinois are already looking for extra ways to monetize their land and are eager for new, easy ways to do that.”

Visit www.outside360.com for more information or to sign up. Those with questions can visit the website and click the contact us button at the bottom of the homepage.

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Reporter

Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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