Join Shelton Johnson and others who hope to inspire urban youth to have an interest in the national parks and experiencing the outdoors, by contributing to the production of a feature-length documentary about the first African-American expedition to tackle North America’s highest peak at Denali National Park. Please click the link at the end of this video to contribute now.
Minorities & The Parks Category
Click the following link to see Blair Underwood’s uproarious take on the plight of the black hiker in the outdoors.
To inspire youth of color—and particularly African American youth—to get outside, get active, and become stewards of our wild places, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will run an expedition with African American participants who will attempt to summit Denali, the highest peak in North America, in June, 2013, the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of the peak. This journey will involve a group of role models in the African American outdoor community learning and using valuable leadership skills, including expedition behavior, communication, and tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, to work together toward achieving a common goal.
As one participant says in the following preview video, “The mountain doesn’t care if you’re Black,” but the example set by these black mountaineers could inspire a new generation to care about the outdoors. See more by playing this video.
Lander, Wyo.—The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is taking dramatic steps to inspire youth—specifically African American youth—to get outside, get active, and become stewards of wild places. The school intends to accomplish this by running the first predominantly African American expedition on Denali, the highest peak in North America.
Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors will create role models for communities historically underrepresented in the outdoors through a 2013 summit attempt and subsequent outreach and educational initiatives.
“Through post-expedition speaking and media engagements across the nation,” explained NOLS instructor and Diversity and Inclusion Manager Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, “Expedition Denali members will inspire youth of color to connect with the outdoors and take on outdoor pursuits they may have never imagined possible—in recreation, education, policy, conservation, land management or government.”
The expedition participants are united in their dedication to connecting African American youth to the outdoors, to mitigating projected obesity rates and health risks among these youth, and to inspiring a generation to protect the world’s wild places. Team members include diversity champions, change leaders in the youth and outdoors movement, educational reformers, writers, photographers, business leaders, and mountaineers who have made historical ascents.
No team of predominantly African Americans has ever summited Denali, and NOLS is proud to spearhead and lead this attempt. NOLS was the first commercial outfitter on the mountain in 1971 and has regularly run expeditions on Denali since. The success of NOLS’ Denali expeditions can be attributed to the fact that NOLS does not simply “guide” participants up the mountain. It runs its Denali expedition like any other course, training participants to become technically versed in mountaineering skills while they acclimatize and running participants through the leadership curriculum so that by the end of the expedition, participants become team leaders.
The longest and most strenuous day on Denali will be the summit day, a five-mile round-trip to the summit and back to High Camp. NOLS intends to partner with organizations to mobilize youth of color nationwide to take their own “10,000 steps to Denali,” on the same day. “Armed with pedometers, youth will hike 10,000 steps in wild places near their homes to commemorate this historic event,” said Rajagopal-Durbin
Ultimately, the goal is not the summit on that day in June of 2013. “The goal of the expedition is to engage a broad constituency in a public dialogue about diversity in the outdoors, specifically in the field of outdoor recreation and education, and to make a profound impact on the lives of today’s underrepresented youth, who are tomorrow’s adventurers,” Rajagopal Durbin said.
Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS is a leader in wilderness education, providing awe-inspiring, transformative experiences to more than 15,000 students each year. These students, ages 14 to 70, learn in the wildest and most remote classrooms worldwide—from the Amazon rain forest, to rugged peaks in the Himalaya, to Alaskan glaciers and Arctic tundra. Graduates are active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. NOLS also offers customized courses through NOLS Professional Training, and the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS is the leading teacher of wilderness medicine worldwide. For more information, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.
“You shouldn’t have to convince people to go to paradise,” says National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson in a heart-touching video released by the National Parks Conservation Association. The video shows how visiting national parks like Yosemite fills people with pride of the accomplishments of their ancestors in preserving these great places for all humanity.
The recently released “Comprehensive Survey of the American Public,” conducted by the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming for the National Park Service is raising public awareness discussion of why so few minorities visit national parks, particularly natural parks.
In “Where are the people of color in national parks?,” MSNBC.com travel writer Rob Lovitt points out findings within the study which indicate that despite efforts by the National Park Service and its partners to encourage more minorities to visit parks, fewer minorities visit national parks than are represented in the U.S. population. “Visitation figures are skewed even further when the visits in question are to parks that showcase wilderness and outdoor recreation,” Lovitt writes, “For example, at Yosemite National Park in California, a 2009 visitation survey showed that African Americans totaled just 1 percent of visitors, compared to 77 percent white and 11 percent each for Hispanics and Asians. The reasons would easily fill a book… but the end result is that the national parks run the risk of losing their connection to the American public.”
As another sign of the times, an organization that has taken under-served residents in the Miami region to national parks for the past 11 years has lost its transportation sponsor necessary for the group to visit Biscayne National Park on Saturday.
Cash donations of $5,000 from the National Park Conservation Association and $4,800 from the National Park Trust, in addition to in-kind donations of commemorative t-shirts and water fell $5,300 short of being able to expose the group of some 850 minority residents of the Miami area to the park. $1,600 of that sum is needed for transportation.
More about “Operation Green Leaves,” the group seeking support, is found at http://www.oglhaiti.com. Contributions can be made to Operation Green Leaves by contacting Nadine Patrice at email@example.com.
From CSU Channel Islands
Camarillo, Calif., Feb. 7, 2011 – Dr. Donald Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management at CSU Channel Islands (CI) was invited to Washington, D.C. to speak to the National Parks Foundation regarding the issue of engaging college-age youth with the National Parks Service (NPS). In particular, the group wanted to know how to make the parks relevant to 18 to 25-year-old minority students who had very little history of using the parks for recreation and other outdoor activities.
Rodriguez returned to campus and, with a grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, put together an interdisciplinary research team consisting of himself, Dr. Jose Alamillo, Associate Professor Chicana/o Studies and Dr. Tracylee Clarke, Assistant Professor of Communication. They hired one Hispanic student from each of their respective academic areas (Iliana Espinoza, Jose Tlaxcuapan, and Paul Paredes), to work with the research team throughout the project and to explore minority participation among their peer groups. This work is part of the students’ Capstone projects.
After completing the analysis phase of the project in the fall, the full team is currently engaged in compiling culturally responsive outreach activities and creating a template for use with other park staffs. The student team is conducting peer focus groups to ask such questions as, “Are the parks meaningful for you and, if not, why not?” Not only are the parks interested in this kind of data, but also manufacturers of sporting goods and recreational equipment like R.E.I., the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society.
The outdoor community wants to understand the concerns and needs of this diverse population so they can appeal to the next generation of users. The underserved youth are the fastest growing demographic and are often highly urbanized with no history of socialized nature based recreation activity. Being familiar with the outdoor life means not just an appreciation of nature but of different ecosystem services like open space, clean water, wildlife habitat, and clean air.
In April and May, Clarke assisted by Rodriguez and Alamillo, will conduct three field training workshops to share information from the project, specifically with the NPS interpretive staff at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Channel Islands National Park and Cabrillo National Monument to help the staffs of these parks become aware of particular challenges associated with reaching underserved audiences. The research team will also work with NPS staff to design and implement workshop assessment instruments to be integrated into the three NPS workshops for park personnel.
CI, as a Hispanic Serving Institution, has been actively engaged with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park, with members of the Park staff involved in the planning and instruction of various courses.
Rodriguez hopes that once CI’s project is complete it can serve as a model of student engagement by CI’s feeder community colleges and eventually by the CSU and other 4-year universities.
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research.
The important national dialogue about why African Americans are missing from our national parks continued in Oprah Winfrey’s recent programs about her Yosemite camping adventure with her best friend, Gayle. This week, The New York Times wrote of the topic. To read the article, CLICK HERE.