We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. At the same time, technology has sparked the greatest mass migration in human history—a migration inside, behind screens.
This growing disconnect from nature is adding billions of dollars to health care costs as chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and mental anxiety proliferate. It also undermines the value of nature in society at large: If we do not interact with nature on a regular basis, we will not be invested in its outcome.
Public health as an ecosystem service is a nonpartisan issue that has the potential to revolutionize our appreciation for both public and planetary health. By championing the importance of nature to health outcomes, we’re able to make implicit demands for its protection.
The Center for Jackson Hole is a 501c3 nonprofit organization the mission of which is to advance and promote the importance of nature as a social determinant of health. Doing so, we believe, creates the strongest argument we can make for nature itself.
Our vision? By 2025, to get 10% of Americans to take their doctor’s recommendations for physical activity outside.
We achieve our mission via two main programs: SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow), an annual summit, held each autumn in Jackson Hole, that explores issues at the intersection of outdoor recreation, conservation and public health; and The Emerging Leaders Program, which trains early career leaders to help develop our work at SHIFT and in America.
Learn more about our programmatic focus here.
Our Core Values
Making Differences Our Strength
Sharing the Gift of Mutual Respect
Advocating For Our Planet and Its Inhabitants
Embracing Personal Challenge
Leading with Relationship
Additionally, our efforts are informed by the Four Principles of Successful Networks identified by Jane Wei Skillern at New Network Leader:
At The Center for Jackson Hole, we believe the coalition of stakeholders working to protect our natural world has the potential to become a movement. Outdoor recreationalists, land managers, health care professionals and conservationists realize their greatest opportunities for effectiveness when they address issues of common concern with a unified voice. Working together to achieve shared objectives, our ability to champion public health and our natural world in a time of unprecedented threat is extraordinary.
One of the greatest threats to the movement’s success is fragmentation. Compartmentalization of work, replication of effort, lack of communication between principals, and conflict between natural allies are just a few of the challenges that conspire against a united whole.
Jackson Hole wildlife biologist Olaus Murie used to say, “It’s going to take all of us to do it.” Until our efforts to protect our natural world represent the rights and interests of all people, we won’t be strong enough to succeed.
By uniting natural allies and combining the protection of the natural world with health, business, and responsible recreation, The Center for Jackson Hole’s programs advance ideas and initiatives that are revitalizing the American conservation movement. In an increasingly partisan political landscape, these programs also represent a uniquely nonpartisan effort to protect our natural world. With your help, we look forward to creating a unified framework for its stewardship.
Christian Beckwith, Director: The founder and director of SHIFT and its parent organization, The Center for Jackson Hole, Christian Beckwith started his first publication, The Mountain Yodel, in 1994. In 1996 he became the youngest person to edit the world’s premier mountaineering journal, The American Alpine Journal. In 2002 he co-founded Alpinist Magazine, an archival-quality climbing quarterly that Reinhold Messner called “the greatest climbing magazine in the world today.” More recently, he started The Alpinist Film Festival; coordinated the development of the Teton Boulder Park; and launched Outerlocal, a social media website for adventure athletes. He has made expeditions to Kyrgyzstan, Alaska, Peru and Tibet, skied the Grand Teton half a dozen times, and established numerous first ascents and descents around the world. He and his wife, Dr. Giovannina Anthony, live in Jackson with their daughter, Soleil.
Morgan Green, MD, Director, Emerging Leaders Program: Dr. Morgan Green is a Pediatric Hospitalist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He is a proud mentee of Dr. Nooshin Razani, the founder of the Center for Nature and Health. During his residency at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital of Oakland, he worked with Dr. Razani and specifically helped with community engagement and resident curriculum within the SHINE program, an initiative that helps to connect patients seen in clinic from all walks of life—whether that be low-income patient populations, immigrants, refugees or people of color—to the vast amount of regional parks in their community.
An alumni of The Center for Jackson Hole’s 2018 Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), Morgan received his medical degree (and found his wife, Tedean Green) at Loma Linda University. He was also a member of UCSF PLUS Program, which trains pediatric residency to become leaders in advancing health equity. He hopes to take the tools he learned from the Center of Nature and Health, his time in Oakland and his global life experiences to better integrate the benefits of outdoor play as a core interaction between physicians and patients.
Mickey Fearn has been a public servant, parks, recreation, and conservation professional for over 50 years. He is currently a Professor of Practice in the North Carolina State University’s School of Natural Resources.
From 2008 to 2013 he served as the National Park Service’s Deputy Director for Communications and Community Assistance. His responsibilities included Community Engagement and Outreach, Communications, Public Affairs, Strategic Planning, Youth Programs, International Affairs, Partnerships, Legislative and Congressional Affairs, Policy, State and Local Assistance Programs.
Before his tenure at the National Park Service, Mickey worked in Seattle, where he held positions as:
In addition, Mickey led the creation of the architecture to end youth violence in the City of Seattle, and developed programs connecting young people with nature.
Mickey served as a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commissioner for 12 years. Prior to his work in Seattle, Mickey worked for the Governor of California and the California Department of Parks and Recreation as Community Outreach Specialist. He served the Mayor of Oakland California as the Coordinator of Special Projects, Community Outreach and Community Organization.
Mickey serves on the Boards of Directors of Groundwork USA, the City Parks Alliance, the Core Network, Northbay Environmental Learning Center, on the Board of Advisors for the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Natural Resources, and on the State Park Leadership School Board of Regents.
Mickey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation and Park Administration from California State University, Sacramento, and his Master of Science Degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Oregon.
Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller is an OB-Gyn and Integrative Medicine physician who resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She completed OB-Gyn residency at Western Pennsylvania-Temple University in Pittsburgh and is a fellowship graduate of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. She is board certified by both the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Board of Integrative Medicine. She holds additional certifications in herbal medicine and is a certified forest therapy guide. She currently serves as medical director for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and as medical advisor for the organization, AllTrails.
She is the author of an award-winning children’s book about autism called “A Friend Like John, Understanding Autism,” and speaks nationally and internationally about autism, integrative medicine, and nature therapy. Her book, “The Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide to Forest Bathing,” by Falcon Guides, was released in July 2019. Suzanne and her husband Joe are avid outdoor enthusiasts and lead workshops combining outdoor adventure and the mindful practice of forest bathing.
Sandy Schultz Hessler’s passion is to help people and teams catalyze the power within for maximum health, growth and success. She has over 30 years experience in business from blue chips to start ups along with a lifetime of study on human potential and consciousness.
She began her career in brand management at Procter & Gamble, then cofounded a start up called Imagitas which sold to Pitney Bowes in 2005 for $265 million. She has taught leadership, communications and marketing at Tufts, Miami of Ohio and Harvard Kennedy School where she served as Assistant Dean, running the office of career advancement, field experience and internships for students. For the last six years she has co-created and taught the Start Up Intensive—a 20-week intensive entrepreneurial training program in Jackson Wyoming through Central Wyoming College—while also doing private leadership coaching and consulting. She has her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and advanced degrees from Harvard, Miami of Ohio and the University of Santa Monica.
Whether she’s running a brand, climbing the world’s tallest mountains, raising five beloved children, teaching, or co-founding a start-up, Sandy lives her life joyfully and intentionally.
Len Necefer, Board Chair: A member of the Navajo Nation and the founder and owner of NativesOutdoors, which shares the photos and stories of indigenous people outdoors and in outdoor recreation, Dr. Len Necefer (ELP ’17) holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas, and is a graduate of the United World College of the American West. His current research interests focus upon the intersection of society, culture, and technical environmental and energy system modeling. In his free time Len is an avid mountaineer, climber, cyclist, and amateur race car driver and mechanic.
Frederick Reimers is a correspondent for Outside Magazine, writing on such topics as the political impact of the outdoor industry and the health benefits of being outdoors. He is the former editor of Canoe and Kayak magazine and has contributed to Men’s Journal, Sports Illustrated, Powder, and Bloomberg Business. He grew up at century-old canoe tripping camp Keewaydin in Temagami, Ontario, where his father was the director, and spent nine years leading expeditions for Outward Bound in Utah, Colorado, Alaska, and Mexico. He helped pioneer whitewater runs in Peru, India and Washington state. His family has called Jackson Hole home since 1991.
Jess Saba is the founder of Good Point Projects, a consultancy that supports socially and environmentally focused businesses and leaders. Jess develops and manages corporate philanthropic giving programs that support conservation, restoration and preservation of land, water and wildlife.
Her mission is to increase corporate funding to environmentally focused non-profits and evolve the practice of environmental philanthropy through a guidebook called, “Tools for Environmental Giving.”
Jess grew up in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, where she developed a deep appreciation for pristine and protected ecosystems. Fortunate to be surrounded by people who could teach her skills to winter camp, hike, cross-country ski, and swim in mountain-fed river tributaries, Jess hopes to preserve access to outdoor experiences for future generations. She is based between Boulder, CO and Boston, MA.
Gerben Scherpbier (ELP ’17) is a Masters of Public Policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he is focused on public lands and outdoor recreation. Prior to starting at the Kennedy School, Gerben was the Youth Programming Manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Youth Opportunities Program in Boston, Massachusetts.
Gerben spent four seasons working as a ranger in Yellowstone National Park—two as a crew leader with the Youth Conservation Corps, and two as a protection ranger. He studied earth science and economics at Dartmouth College and served as the president of the Dartmouth Outing Club and the director of their First Year Trips outdoor orientation program.
Tanner Yess (ELP ’16) was raised by scientists, and grew up paddling, pedaling, and planting trees. Whether on the trail or in the lab, he learned how to hustle in settings that lacked diverse representation. After earning a degree in environmental science and restoration, he worked on a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. His Peace Corps service involved resource management, education and eco-tourism. During graduate school, Tanner helped form Greater Cincinnati’s Tri-State Trails Coalition. He is a National Park Service Mountains to Main Street Ambassador; SHIFT Emerging Leader; and recipient of the 2018 Murie Center Rising Leader Award. As part of Groundwork USA he builds programs that connect communities to nature through recreation, science, and jobs. Tanner’s passion is creating new pathways for urban youth to access green careers.
Peter Metcalf co-founded Black Diamond, Inc. in 1989, became its Chief Executive Officer in 2010, served as its President until 2014, and as its Director from 2010-2015. He co-founded Clarus Corp., and served as its Chief Executive Officer and President. He served as the President of Chouinard Equipment Ltd. (inc), a Subsidiary of Lost Arrow Corporation, from 1981 to 1989. Mr. Metcalf serves as Director of Salt Lake City Branch of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He has been a Member of Board of Managers of PIEPS GmbH since 2012. Mr. Metcalf is a graduate of the University of Colorado, with a major in Political Science. He holds a Certificate in Management from the Peter Drucker Center of Management.
Luther Propst founded the Sonoran Institute in 1991 and served as executive director until December 2012. He has worked for World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC, and practiced law, where he represented local governments, landowners, and organizations nationwide in land-use matters. He has co-authored three books, including Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities. He is currently the chair of the Outdoor Alliance, and serves on the boards of the George B. Storer Foundation and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Propst is recognized as a leading practitioner in the North American West of community-based, collaborative, and innovative efforts to advance conservation and to ground conservation in an understanding of economic values and implications.
Bob Ratcliffe: As Division Chief for the National Park Service’s Conservation, Recreation and Community Assistance Programs for the last four years, Bob oversees the widely recognized Recreation, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, National Trails and National Rivers programs among others. These innovative programs help fulfill the NPS mission in working with partners to extend the benefits of parks, recreation and conservation to communities across the country. Previously, Bob served 24 years for the Bureau of Land Management in a variety of field and national leadership roles including over a dozen years as Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, and Division Chief for the National Recreation and Visitor Services Program. Mr. Ratcliffe has been successful in working with constituents, coalitions, partners and agency leadership to emphasize rivers, trails, recreation, conservation and community assistance as top priorities for the agencies and the Department. He helped guide the development of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and has helped shape the NPS’ Centennial efforts as well as Department’s strategic priorities for youth engagement and promoting economic and health benefits of outdoor recreation. Currently he serves as the interagency staff Chair of the Federal Recreation Council (formerly FICOR). He is also a member for several of NPS’s strategic leadership teams, guiding efforts to help define future roles for NPS and the Department of Interior in addressing recreation, urban, public engagement challenges and identifying opportunities to support the agency’s relevancy, diversity and inclusion goals.
Dr. David Sabgir is the Founder and Board President of Walk With A Doc. He practices cardiology full-time for the Mount Carmel Health System and serves as their Medical Director for Cardiac Rehabilitation. He is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, and by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. His special areas of interest include Cardiovascular Imaging (CT & MRI), Congestive Heart Failure, General Cardiology, and Valvular Heart Disease. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife Kristin and two children, Ally and Charlie.
Brenda Schmidt is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Aligned Value Exchange (AVALx), a mutual membership market exchange that aligns incentives across multiple payers and health plans enabling scaled investment in whole person care interventions, including those with long term return horizons. Brenda is also the CEO of Socialia Group, a consulting and advisory firm working with innovative organizations focused on transforming healthcare to drive value and social impact. She is also the Founder, Executive Chair and Director of Solera Health, which ignites behavior change through a personalized platform to help people holistically manage their health.
Ted Staryk chaired The McKnight Foundation board of directors during the exploration and development of its impact-investing program. He currently serves as the chair of its Mission Investing Committee. In 2006, he and his wife Noa bought Jackson, Wyoming’s Snake River Brewing from its original founders, Albert & Joni Upsher.
Dr. Michael Suk: One of the country’s earliest and leading proponents of the health benefits of nature, Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, is currently System Wide Chairman of the Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute for the Geisinger Health System and a board trustee for The American Medical Association.
Chosen in 2003 as a White House Fellow with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Dr. Suk, as Special Advisor to former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, co-wrote a law review piece that investigated the relationship between a healthy lifestyle and participating in outdoor activities such as bicycling, hiking, and camping. In 2011, Dr. Suk’s activism in this matter contributed to the National Park Service’s adoption of a number of key values in its Centennial “Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement.”
Florence Williams is a journalist, author, and podcaster. She is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. She is also the writer and host of two Gracie-Award-winning Audible Original series, Breasts Unbound and The Three-Day Effect, as well as Outside Magazine’s Double-X Factor podcast. Her public speaking includes keynotes at Google, the Smithsonian, the Seattle Zoo, the Aspen Ideas Festival and many other corporate, academic and nonprofit venues.
A fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University, her work focuses on the environment, health and science.
EMERGING LEADERS PROGRAM ADVISORY COUNCIL
Taimur Ahmad: Born and raised in New York City, Taimur (ELP ’16) is an environmental advocate and climber. Taimur currently works for the Access Fund on recreation policy as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion issues within the climbing community. He lives in Bishop, CA, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada.
Eva Garcia (ELP ’18) is a native and lifelong resident of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, an area rich in natural, cultural and historical resources. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Brownsville and interning with the City of Brownsville, she began to understand that her community was facing significant health disparities that were compounded by poverty (34% below poverty), language barriers (94%) and a lack of access to healthcare (60% of adult population uninsured). To improve the wellness and quality of life of her community, Eva became passionate about equitable access to safe and affordable transportation and recreational options that promote physical and mental health.
As a Planner with the City of Brownsville, Eva helped implement a city-wide bicycle and pedestrian network and improve parks and public spaces. At the beginning of 2019, Eva joined the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as the Project Manager for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Plan. The Active Plan is a regional plan that aims to generate new economic opportunity by diversifying the local tourism market and linking communities through an active transportation network that will promote healthy lifestyles. Eva hopes her work will improve the quality of life and build community pride in the Rio Grande Valley.
Ciarra Green (ELP ’16) is a citizen of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe. Nimiipuu culture and traditions emphasize environmental stewardship and drive her academic, professional, and personal endeavors. She received her BS in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University (2012), where she researched environmental transport and stabilization of uranium on the Navajo Reservation. She has also completed internships with the Nez Perce Tribe, Dept. of Energy (Hanford), EPA, and Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals.
Ciarra has worked at the Arizona Science Center as STEM instructor, the Nez Perce Tribe Water Resources Division (Wetland Program Field Assistant and Water Resources Specialist), and Wisdom of the Elders (Educator and Workforce Development Coordinator). Currently, she is pursuing her MS degree in Science Teaching at Portland State University; serves on the Nez Perce Tribe General Council Resolutions Committee and Wisdom of the Elders Board of Directors; and is a contractor for curriculum and program development focusing on culture in the STEM fields. In 2019, she accepted a position at Northwest Indian College as Native Environmental Science Faculty at the Nez Perce Campus.
Shonto Greyeyes (ELP ’18) is a trail worker by trade, and an outdoor educator by chance. He draws experience from 6 years working in forests, deserts, and the occasional classroom. With his current role as a Field Instructor at Teton Science Schools, he has been striving to continually develop his skills to better engage youth and young adults within communities that do not have the resources or structures dedicated to outdoor experiential education.
“I want to make a positive impact in the lives of youth within POC communities to cultivate more mindful, environmentally conscious leaders that are equipped with the skills and knowledge to inspire themselves and others to become pillars in their communities,” he says. Whether it is backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or tending the corn fields, he finds himself most comfortable outside.
Jess Johnson (ELP ’17) is legislative liaison and advocacy coordinator at the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, and a co-founder of Artemis, a platform for women’s leadership in hunting, fishing and conservation. She sits on the boards of 2% for Conservation and the Wyoming Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers as well as participating as a team member for FirstLite. Her work centers on changing the narrative around stereotypes of hunters and advancing women’s voices within the hunting and conservation world.
Jess grew up an only child of a ranching family in Montana, Northern California and Wyoming and walked the line between ranch kid and ballerina. Her eclectic childhood instilled in her a wanderlust for wide expanses of public land, a deep appreciation and love for the wildlife that inhabit it, and a preference for the grace and strength required in archery. Since moving back to Wyoming nine years ago she has spent most of her free time as an archery only hunter and exploring the mountains and rolling sage brush slopes of Wyoming. Jess knows that hunting in this era is a privilege and believes fully in the notion that there is no privilege without obligation. She believes that the obligation is to speak for those without voices, to conserve our hunting heritage, and to help bring a new and badly needed facelift to the hunting community. In her spare time she can be found stalking mule deer, elk, pronghorn and bear, bow in hand and a smile on her face.
Dylan McDowell (ELP ’18) works at the intersection of science and policy. Originally trained as a science communicator, he is now Deputy Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, where he supports state lawmakers across the country on a range of conservation and environmental policies. Dylan lives in Salem, Oregon, where he serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and can often be found hiking, running, or doing anything that involves water.
Natrieifia Miller: Born and raised in North Carolina, Natrieifia (ELP ’17) grew up learning about science and the environment from the likes of Steve Irwin, The Kratt Brothers, Bill Nye and many other TV personalities. These people inspired a love for wildlife, science and the natural world, but the idea that she could do similar work didn’t occur to her until a fateful internship near the end of her college career.
In the summer of 2016, Natrieifia began work with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), where she was a main contributor to ATC’s “The Register Blog,” built and maintained sections of Trail with many volunteers, and engaged with the public, educating about Leave No Trace and best stewardship practices of our natural spaces. This internship became a springboard for building connections and discovering the many facets of work beneath the umbrellas of conservation, outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship. This new exploration also opened her eyes to concepts such as environmental racism, equity, inclusion and other related topics.
Now working as a park ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Natrieifia mainly educates students, and other visitors. Not only does she teach about the rich biodiversity and prosperous cultural histories of the Smokies, but also why it’s important to protect and preserve all public lands for future generations. Inside and outside of her day job, she also strives to be vocal about topics of equity and inclusion, particularly in environmental spaces. She maintains a connection with the ATC, which sparked her love and appreciation for stewarding public lands, by serving on their Next Generation Advisory Council.
Aaron Wolf (ELP ’17) hails from Chicago and is the founder of Adventures Accessed. Before starting his own business in 2015, Aaron served in the Marines from 2004-2008, attended college at DePaul University and started a career in advertising. Aaron credits the journey and transition from service to education to career in blazing the trail into his rewarding work as an outfitter, guide and small business owner. Aaron has always had a natural curiosity and passion for nature and believes that a meaningful connection to the planet can be the foundation for a healthful life. Through his work with Adventures Accessed, Aaron strives to eliminate the barriers to entry in getting people out of the city and into the region’s national forests, parks and preserves. In addition to running the business, Aaron volunteers on the board of directors for the Outdoors Empowered Network and as a City Leader for Bunker Labs. His favorite tree is the green ash.
SHIFT was in the news as part of the #WontTakeSHIFTAnymore campaign. What’s #WTSA? See here for a FAQ.