In 2016, The Center for Jackson Hole retained the Teton Science Schools to help develop a program to address the lack of cultural relevancy in outdoor recreation and conservation. The resulting Emerging Leaders Program (“ELP”) brought thirty-four men and women between the ages of 19 and 31 to the Jackson campus of the Teton Science Schools for three days of preparatory work in advance of The 2016 SHIFT Festival, and then integrated them into the proceedings in substantive and meaningful ways.
Emerging Leader participation at SHIFT—on panel discussions, as speakers, facilitators, and as logistical coordinators—“changed the conversation in very important ways” for participants and Emerging Leaders (“ELPers”) alike. As Daniel Lucio, the Volunteer Lead of The Sierra Club’s Our Wild America, put it, “The Emerging Leaders Program is the best example of leadership development I’ve seen.”
Since October, Emerging Leaders have presented a panel on outdoor recreation and diversity at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, and put together a stakeholder discussion on outdoor recreation and cultural relevancy in Washington, DC.
To continue this work, from February 23-26, twenty-six of the original 34 Emerging Leaders will reconvene at the Jackson Campus of the Teton Science School. The mid-winter gathering, which is being led by the Teton Science Schools’ Colby Mitchell, will focus on developing an organizational structure for ELP that scales its impact around the US.
“Our goal is to create a strategic plan for achieving the 3-year vision of ELP,” said Christian Beckwith, Executive Director of The Center for Jackson Hole and ELP’s founder. That plan, he says, includes developing an ELP export concept, harnessing the ELP network to produce successful outcomes and empowering ELPers to hep guide the program’s evolution.
Storytelling will be a key element of the mid-winter ELP as well. Emerging Leader Zeppelin Zeerip, who is also a film producer with WZRD Media, is currently in the pre-production stages of a feature-length film documenting the fight for America’s public lands. He and his team will be on hand to capture interviews from the ELPers regarding their relationships to public lands.
Emerging Leader Elizabeth Case, the co-founder of Cycle for Science and a PhD candidate at Cornell, is working with Kristen Carpenter-Ogden of Verde Communications to podcast the proceedings. Journalist Frederick Reimers is writing a story on SHIFT and ELP for Outside Magazine. Author Terry Tempest Williams will assist Mitchell in instructing the program, and Narrative4, a global organization that seeks to build a community of empathic global citizens through the exchange of personal narratives, will also participate.
“The momentum generated by the Emerging Leaders Program has been tremendous,” said Beckwith. “We’re looking forward to getting back together with the ELPers to harness that energy and build upon everything that has happened since October.”