Summary of The 2015 SHIFT Summit


Michelle Piñon at the 2015 SHIFT Summit. This and all photos: David Swift


The goal of the 2015 SHIFT Festival? To insure the future of our wild places—and to have fun in the process.

The 2015 SHIFT Summit and Festival was held 7-10 October in Jackson Hole, WY. SHIFT 2015 focused on the intersection of outdoor recreation and conservation with the aim of inspiring partnerships. The program was a mix of evening events, happy hours, breakfast and lunch discourses, and the SHIFT Summit. It brought together leading adventure athletes, land managers and conservation advocates to explore the future of our wild places. The SHIFT Summit was an in-depth exploration of the opportunities and challenges at the heart of the outdoor recreation/conservation partnership.

Below is a summary of some of the major themes, topics of discussion, and action items produced from the SHIFT Summit.

To explore the issues at the heart of the outdoor recreation/conservation partnership, the SHIFT Summit was organized around three sub-themes:

Jose Gonzales, Courtney Aber, Tyrhee Moore and Alyssa Ravasio. CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP - LIGHTNING TALKS AND PLENARY DISCUSSION.

Jose Gonzales, Courtney Aber, Tyrhee Moore and Alyssa Ravasio during the Conservation Leadership lightning talks.

Conservation Leadership

The outdoor recreation, land management and conservation communities have been criticized for being homogenous, dominated by a demographic that is predominantly white, middle class, and (increasingly) aging. Given demographic shifts in the country overall, identifying opportunities to introduce new populations to wild and natural places is an important priority. Outdoor recreation offers a solution, engaging younger, more urban and more diverse generations in conservation, community stewardship, and responsible recreation practices. Furthermore, translating “one-time” or vacation experiences to a life-long conservation ethic is vital to the longevity of the movement.


Kimberly Conteras and John Wentworth during a small-group discussion at the SHIFT Summit.

Responsible Recreation

As the number of outdoor recreationists increases and outdoor recreational pursuits continue to diversify, our impacts on the environment and conflicts among users increase. Both require active management by adequately funded agencies, and self-awareness, self-restraint, a willingness to follow rules and a tolerance for other types of recreation on the part of users. Some places are also in danger of being “over loved.” As public land managers and decision-makers work to accommodate the pressures created by recreationists and increasing populations, they must find ways to balance the desire to utilize our public lands with the mandate to preserve them for future generations.


Juan Telles and Graciela Cabello bump it up during the Youth Engagement breakfast discourse.

Outdoor Access

Outdoor access is key to creating the next generation of land stewards. Nonprofit organizations, schools, businesses, and individual guides around North America are well positioned to bring a diverse set of tomorrow’s stakeholders to the outdoors, but efforts to do so are often complicated by budgets, policies, and cultural considerations.

Who attended

The 2015 SHIFT Summit brought together a diverse group of more than 300 people from across North America, including participants from several key sectors, including

  • Outdoor Recreation User Groups
  • Conservation Advocates
  • The Outdoor Industry
  • Public Land Managers
  • Community Leadership
  • Outdoor Media

Youth delegates at the 2015 SHIFT Summit.

Youth Engagement

In addition to these groups, 27 youth delegation members participated. The youth delegation arrived a day early and participated in a pre-Summit youth delegation training. The training taught these young leaders facilitation skills and an initial dive into the issues discussed during the meeting. The youth delegation facilitated the breakout group discussions and shared the outcomes with all participants during plenary report backs.

The participation of these young adults was put on by the Children and Nature Network’s Natural Leaders Program and Meridian Institute, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with IslandWood.

Objectives of the Summit:

Jose Gonzales, Luis Benitez, Eduardo Gonzales, Kimberly Contreras, Kenji Haroutunian and Juan Telles. SHIFT Festival 2015. Day 2.

Jose Gonzales, Luis Benitez, Eduardo Gonzales, Kimberly Contreras, Kenji Haroutunian and Juan Telles group selfie at The 2015 SHIFT Festival, Day 2.

During the introduction, participants discussed the initial meeting objectives and suggested additions. The meeting objectives were to:

  • Connect: Strengthen the coalition among natural allies whose work is often compartmentalized; and Create a hub for people passionate about our public lands, waters, and wildlife to discuss challenges, opportunities, and strategies in their defense; build lasting connections, including outside the “usual suspects”.
  • Celebrate: Learn from the best ideas in conservation and recreation; amplify the positive impacts of work being done at the local level; and share recent successes.
  • Redefine conservation and recreation: Move past the usual stereotypes in conservation and recreation;
  • Define next steps for the Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation: Refine a set of principles that outdoor recreationists, public land managers, and conservation advocates can use to advance common goals;
  • Identify actions and strategies: develop tools that will enable individuals and organizations to save the places we love and promote inclusive, responsible recreation.

Yvon Chouinard, who MC’d the Adventure, Inspired film program that closed the Festival.

The SHIFT Pledge

SHIFT launched The SHIFT Pledge to support the Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation. The SHIFT Pledge is comprised of six points tied to the corresponding six Principles that outdoor recreationists, conservationists and land managers can use to protect our public lands, waters and wildlife.

I will:

FIGHT for our public lands and waters

PRACTICE responsible recreation that’s inclusive and informed by a conservation ethic

MINIMIZE my impacts and my conflicts with other users

CONTRIBUTE solutions to land-management, conservation and recreation problems

RESPECT land-management rules and regulations

SUPPORT long-term funding solutions that protect the environment and advance responsible recreation

The SHIFT Pledge was shared through Thunderclap and through the efforts of SHIFT participants received 191 supporters and reached over 600,000 people!

Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation
Panel Discussion

Whit Fosburgh, Meryl L.R. Harrell, Aaron Clark, Deanne Buck and Michael Carrol. THE SHIFT SUMMIT: DAY 1

IMBA’s Aaron Clark makes a point during a panel discussion on The Principles for the Advancement of Outdoor Recreation and Conservation. Surrounding him are Whit Fosburgh, Meryl L.R. Harrell, Deanne Buck and Michael Carrol.

The Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation are designed to provide those who love and use the outdoors a framework with which to advance commonly held goals related to the protection and preservation of our public lands, waters and wildlife. The initial document was in June 2015 at the Murie Center in the Grand Teton National Park. Since then, more than 60 people—including executive directors of conservation organizations, CEOs of outdoor industry companies, leadership of outdoor recreation interest groups, and local, regional, and national public land managers—have weighed in on the initial draft. Their feedback was carefully considered and reflected in the current draft.


During the SHIFT Summit, Luther Propst, Chair of the Outdoor Alliance introduced the principles, emphasizing. That they are considered a living document and therefore are constantly being evaluated to ensure they reflect the recreation and conservation communities appropriately. He moderated a panel discussion, including the following panelists:

  • Deanne Buck, The Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition
  • Michael Carrol, The Wilderness Society
  • Aaron Clark, International Mountain Bicycling Association
  • Whit Fosburgh, The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
  • Meryl L. R. Harrell, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Sierra Jech, Steve Jones. SHIFT DRINKS HAPPY HOUR: SKIING AND CLIMATE CHANGE at Asymbol. Panel L-R: Diana Madson, Angel Collinson, Lucas Debari, Chris Steinkamp, Sierra Jech, Steve Jones.

Sierra Jech, president of the University of Wyoming’s Nordic Ski Team, flanked by Protect Our Winters’ Executive Director Chris Steinkamp and Teton Gravity Research co-founder Steve Jones at the Skiing and Climate Change happy hour.


  • The Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation were inspired by the North American Wildlife Conservation Model . These guidelines were developed by the hunting community in the mid-1800’s and provide a set of shared principles that establish shared ethics and values for the hunting and fishing communities still today. They have been influential in establishing a standard for self-enforcement, strongly linking the hunting and fishing communities to conservation, and establishing licensing fees and taxes to support on-the-ground restoration. The Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation should be inspired by pervasive and long-lasting nature of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.
  • With more people recreating and the establishment of more modes of recreation, divides within the recreation community become more common. Conflict between recreation interests prevents forward momentum for the community as a whole. The Principles are an opportunity to acknowledge and accentuate some of the natural synergies between different users, as well as the recreation and conservation communities. By coming together, we can enhance capacity to address funding and policy issues, as well as inspires an understanding of collective ownership over the land.
  • There are some significant areas of existing and potential alignment among the recreation and conservation communities. The Principles could better articulate these natural synergies and shared capacity to address the increasing challenges such as diminishing land management funding and the deterioration of conservation bedrock laws like the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • There is a wide range of interests and people the recreation and conservation communities, such as beginner versus expert recreationalists, one-time users, people in urban areas, and the next generation; the Principles need be inclusive, align the existing groups but also welcome new voices.
  • The Principles will only be effective if they lead to proactive, solution-oriented, creative solutions.



Vincent Culliver (right), winner of the 2015 SHIFT Youth Leadership Award, and Ben McCue of Outdoor Outreach take advantage of the brilliant weather to make a point on the Center for the Arts lawn during the SHIFT Summit.

SHIFT organizers identified more than 150 initiatives around North America currently engaged in on-the-ground work that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains. The top 25% of the initiatives were invited to participate in the SHIFT Summit. On October 8, the SHIFT Summit highlighted this work during the Marketplace session, where people from each of the 15 select initiatives had the opportunity to share the stories and insights from their experience. Participants were able to meet representatives from each of the initiatives, learn more about their programs, and specifically discuss how their initiatives related to the Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation. The initiatives were:

Adam Cramer, Executive Director, Outdoor Alliance, Bethesda, MD

Adirondack High Peaks, Lake Placid, NY

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, Bozeman, MT

Amanda Carey, Driggs, ID

Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO, Surfrider Foundation, San Clemente, CA

Emmet Schrader, Dave Schyberg, Josh Marical, and Nick Tribble, Petaluma, CA

Friends United for Nature Society, Victoria, BC

Hipcamp, San Francisco, CA

Margaret Creel, Program Director, Snake River Fund, Jackson, WY

SHIFT Festival 2015. Day 2.

Mike Schlafmann, winner of the 2015 Public Land Management Award.

Mike Schlafmann, Public Services Staff Officer, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA

National Parks Conservation Association’s Center for Park Management, Bozeman, MT

Outdoor Outreach’s Outdoor Voices Youth Leadership Initiative, San Diego, CA

Raquel Rangel, Turlock, CA

Rich Meyer, Tahoe City, CA

Ryan Burke, Jackson, WY

Snowriders International, Denver, CO

Sonja Macys, Executive Director, Yampatika, Steamboat Springs, CO

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Voluntary Flow Management Program, Pueblo, CO

Stacy Bare, Salt Lake City, UT

STOKE Certified, San Diego, CA

The Access Fund’s ROCK Project, Boulder, CO

Tyrhee Moore, Morgantown, WV

Vincent Culliver, San Diego, CA

Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado, Denver, CO


Walking Mountain Center’s Kim Langmaid (center) at the 2015 SHIFT Festival.

Walking Mountains Science Center’s Natural Resource Internship Program for Local High School Students, Avon, CO

Whistler/Blackcomb’s Habitat Improvement Team, Whistler, BC

Winter Wildlands Association’s SnowSchool, Boise, ID

Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources’ WY Outside, Casper, WY

Yampatika, Steamboat Springs, CO

Conservation Leadership

Panel presentation and Small Group

How do we insure that the legacy of conservation championship by outdoor recreationalists represents the full spectrum of the American experience, and that tomorrow’s leaders have both the opportunities and the tools to continue the work of their predecessors?


Stacy Bare, Director of The Sierra Club Outdoors, during the Conservation Leadership lightning talks.


Moderator: Chris Rutgers, Transforming Youth Outdoors;


  • Courtney Aber, YMCA’s BOLD/GOLD program
  • Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Outdoors
  • Jose Gonzalez, Latino Outdoors
  • Tyhree Moore, City Kids Wilderness Project
  • Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp

This was followed by a brief audience question and answer session, small group breakout discussions, and a report back on what each of the small groups discussed.

Discussion highlights

Kenji Haroutunian. SHIFT DAY 3. CENTER FOR THE ARTS.

Kenji Haroutunian, SHIFT Day 3, Center for the Arts.

Equitable Access

  • There are a wide range of barriers to accessing the outdoors by diverse and urban populations, including access to transportation, language barriers, access to gear. There are a number of programs designed to get new and diverse outdoor recreation groups outside, but participants can still face significant challenges when recreating without an organized group.
  • In addition to the often discussed and more obvious barriers to outdoor access, there are subtle messages that can exclude broader participation in outdoor recreation. For example, the outdoor recreation community can be perceived as exclusive.
  • There tension between encouraging greater outdoor access and concerns about more people spending time in many areas that are already heavily used. While it is important to acknowledge this tension, it should not prevent inclusive approaches to equitable access. Not all recreation takes place in the same locations; there are a number of management tools to deal with increased visitor use; improved communication, including new technology, can be used to encourage recreation in less frequented places.
  • In addition to recreating on public lands, a solution to expanding outdoor access could be through recreation options on private lands. Hipcamp, for example, is working with vineyards, farms, ranches, and land preserves to offer recreational options that may be closer to urban areas and offer a cultural experience as well.
  • Urban populations are continuing to grow. Recreation communities are most frequently located in specific geographic areas with access to the outdoors. The recreation and conservation communities should work to ensure that urban populations still understand that they have equal ownership over public lands.The lack of relevance between Americans and public lands is not just affecting the recreation and conservation partnerships, but also the funding and policies around public lands.

Alyssa Ravasio, Founder & CEO, Hipcamp.


  • Technology and social media allow large amounts of people to quickly engage in online campaigns, share good and bad information, and to feel like they are making an impact. Online campaigns, when used effectively, can raise awareness, amplify events, and push actions and ideas forward. However, it is important to make sure that these campaigns do more than just create a lot of noise; one solution is to supplement them with face-to-face conversations with decision-makers.
  • Just because everyone uses social media and technology does not mean that everyone is an expert on social media and technology. There are times when it is necessary to bring experts in for guidance on how to best utilize these tools for recreation and conservation gains.
  • Social media provides an opportunity to redefine the image of outdoor recreation and conservation and reflect diversity. By offering a broader and more relatable view of recreation, social media can help more people see the outdoors as a welcoming space.
Nona Yehia, Mark Bittman and Yvon Chouinard. THE PEOPLE'S BANQUET. CENTER FOR THE ARTS. CREDIT: David J Swift

Nona Yehia, Mark Bittman and Yvon Chouinard during The People’s Banquet.

Lifelong Stewards

  • Outdoor recreation programs are effective at exposing people to different activities and environments, and teaching them about fundamental ethics and principles (e.g., Leave No Trace). However, these programs do not always create lifelong stewards; one reason is that these programs provide so much comfort, from having a trained guide to providing the gear, that participants feel unable to be recreationalists on their own and therefore do not continue after the program.
  • Being a part of a program helps create a purposeful connection and facilitated experience with the outdoors. Once people experience the outdoors, oftentimes nature speaks for itself and other programming is not necessary; programming can teach responsible practice, but nature itself is powerful enough to create lifelong stewards.
  • Being a lifelong steward does not always mean that the stewardship begins at childhood. Getting youth outdoors is important, but it is equally important to connect adults to the outdoors as well.

The Sierra Club’s Kiersten Iwai shares a laugh at the SHIFT Drinks Hot & Wild happy hour.

Next Generation

  • Youth Corps and other volunteer stewardship or entry-level job opportunities on public land management, conservation and recreation are empowering. These programs need to be expanded to reach different groups, such as diverse youth and urban communities. They also need to be developed with a “stair step approach” in mind so that people new to the outdoors feel comfortable engaging in entry-level positions, but those with more experience have room to move up in the programs.
  • Make sure that young voices are part of the conversation about next generation engagement. Have conversations with youth to understand why they are or are not becoming recreationalist/conservationists, and what they need to do so.
  • In order to engage youth, it is important to also engage parents. Programs should be developed that promote transparent communication, easily access, and safe participation.
  • Mentorship is a vital tool that allows youth to connect on a personal level with recreation/conservation leaders and build skills, competencies, and passion for the outdoors through those relationships.

Cirse Gonzales, Executive Director, Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation.

Culture and Conservation

  • We need programs that focus on diversity but still replicate reality by mixing different types of cultures and people together in the outdoors. Programs that serve specific minorities like African Americans, Latinos, or mentally/physically disabled groups provide access to the outdoors, but are sometimes so “comfortable” that it is difficult for participants to engage with the outdoors on their own afterwards.
  • As programs are more intentionally attempting to bring diversity into the conservation community, the conservation community should be prepared to adapt. The conservation community will need to be inclusive of other cultural values.
  • It is necessary to challenging how we think about and approach diversity. Ask questions like, “What needs to change within the organization to accommodate diversity?” In order to answer these questions, it will be necessary to speak about diversity and have uncomfortable conversations. Talk to parents, veterans, the next generation, people of color, people in urban areas, etc. rather than keeping the conversations within the organization. Some organizations are going to need to change their structures and standards in order to promote diversity.
  • The recreation community is increasingly being defined by people who participate in multiple sports and who self-identify with more than one activity. By evaluating how people label themselves – whether they “occasionally go climbing” but don’t identify as a “climber,” or they don’t identify as a conservation-minded person even though their actions are – the conservation and recreation communities can have a more nuanced discussion about fostering conservation leadership.
  • Sometimes the best starting point to engage in a community is not to create a new organization, but instead to work with existing organizations at the local level. Large national organizations may have tools and resources that small organizations may not, but small organizations oftentimes have community-level partnerships and connections that the large organizations are missing.
Juan Martinez of Children and Nature Network, Director of Leadership Development and Natural Leaders Network and Bob Ratcliffe, Director of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program for the National Park Service. THE SHIFT SUMMIT, DAY 2. LIGHTNING TALKS AND PLENARY DISCUSSION.

Juan Martinez of Children and Nature Network, Director of Leadership Development and Natural Leaders Network and Bob Ratcliffe, Director of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program for the National Park Service, at the Outdoor Access lightning talks.

Outdoor Access and Responsible Recreation

Panel presentation and Small Group

Outdoor Access Panel

How do we improve sustainable access to public lands and waters in order to best foster stewardship of these lands by the caretakers of tomorrow?

Moderator: Dan Nordstrom, Outdoor Research


  • Rebecca Bear, Recreation Equipment, Inc.
  • Juan Martinez, Children and Nature Network
  • Bob Ratcliffe, National Park Service
  • Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society
  • Mike Schlafmann,S. Forest Service

Responsible Recreation Panel

How do we establish a common ground among recreationists, land managers and conservationists that minimizes conflict between user groups and sustains our public lands and waters?


Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, moderator of the Responsible Recreation lightning talks.

Moderator: Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin


  • Cirse Gonzalez, Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation
  • Fay Augustyn, American Rivers
  • Luis Benitez, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
  • Michelle Zimmerman, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Peter Metcalf, Black Diamond

Discussion highlights

This was followed by a brief audience question and answer session, small group breakout discussions, and a report back on what each of the small groups discussed.


Deep in conversation during the Youth Engagement breakfast discourse at the Wort Hotel.

Policies and Access

  • Foster facilitated recreation by improving the system for how we authorize guided permits
  • Increase transportation options to public places
  • Find other funding for addressing public lands access issues, beyond relying on public land agencies
  • Understand the biophysical impacts of increasing access, but also the cultural impacts of not.
  • Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) has been extended on a year-by-year basis, which authorizes parks to charge fees and keep those fees onsite. If REA is not reauthorized, then the money at campgrounds will go back to the general treasury.
  • Drawing the line between open access and necessary management restrictions gets challenging in specific locations.
  • Focus on opportunities to expand recreation opportunities near communities.

The Access Fund’s Travis Herbert makes a point during a small-group discussion.


  • Educating the public about who pays for public land areas and parks may be a valuable tool for gaining understanding and ownership.
  • There is an urgent need to address the current backlog of maintenance and funding issues for public land agencies.
  • Potential funding structures to consider:
    • Endowment funds overseen by foundations but administered to public land agencies. These funds would not replace but instead would supplement the funding allocated by Congress. Contributions to these funds could be made from industry, tourism taxes, etc.
    • Excise taxes from the recreation industry allocated to public land management. Others noted that excise taxes are not effective and do not always contribute directly back into the public lands.
    • Intentional fundraising structures in gateway communities that will support nearby national parks and public lands.
    • Demo fees.
    • Lottery money, such as Colorado’s funding structure.
    • Pay-to-play structures modeled from the hunting and motorized recreation communities. Not only will these fees show others that the recreation community is committed to support conservation efforts, but it may educate users on the true cost of maintaining public lands.
    • Donation drop boxes at trailheads, especially those that are heavily used.
    • City, county, and state level bonds.
    • Tiered entrance fees for national parks based on use, season, etc.
    • Re-evaluated entrance and permit fees based upon changed social constructs. For example, senior discounts often benefit people that are more financially stable and could afford higher prices.
  • It is important to note that of the above options, there may not be one single answer but instead a combination to create a portfolio of funding. Funding structures should be mindful of how costs impact access by many lower income communities.
  • Volunteer programs, though not a solution to the lack of funding, could be better utilized to increase efficiency of non-profits and public land agencies while making an impact on trail and ecological restoration. Volunteers should not be the sole source of work however, as volunteers require a large amount of resources to train and are not always committed for the long term.
  • The health and other benefits of outdoor access should be communicated, when advocating for increased funding of public lands.
Geneva Chong addresses the panel. SHIFT DRINKS HAPPY HOUR: SKIING AND CLIMATE CHANGE at Asymbol. Panel L-R: Diana Madson, Angel Collinson, Lucas Debari, Chris Steinkamp, Sierra Jech, Steve Jones.

Geneva Chong addresses the panel during the Skiing and Climate Change happy hour at Asymbol Gallery.

Code of Conduct

  • It is important to develop a code of conduct for the life-long recreationalist, but also for the one-time visitors to public areas.
  • Certain recreation communities, like the climbing community, has taken a strong responsibility for self-policing. Learning from these success stories can be valuable for other recreation groups.
  • Transparent decision making around access to public lands and management will improve outcomes.
  • Do not underestimate the power of the outdoor recreation community; this community plays a huge part in changing perspectives, maintaining codes of conduct, and garnering support for public land management.
  • Social contracts such as codes of conduct are powerful tools. If recreationalists see themselves as a unified community with shared values, they can work together to more effectively steward public lands.
Shannon Gilmore. SHIFT Festival 2015. Day 2.

New York City Outward Bound School’s Shannon Gilmore on Day 2 of the SHIFT Summit.

Technology and Communication

  • Develop ways to communicate basic responsible recreation ethics to one-time users. Social media and phone applications could be helpful tools for sharing this information, as well as creative communication campaigns on public lands. One suggestion was to make more attention-grabbing signage in national parks, potentially by using humor to do so.
  • Social media and technology is not only helpful for sharing information on commonly visited public lands, but can also help make lighter used areas more accessible and discoverable.
  • Federal agencies are the not the only groups responsible for public lands management, and participatory management is not the only tool. Planning, marketing and outreach, volunteer programs, certification schemes, citizen science, and crowd sourcing are all examples of ways to engage groups in maintaining public lands, many of which rely on the power of technology to do so.
  • Marketing is an important tool for increasing the exposure people have to public lands, however these messages have to be relevant for new markets rather than the existing recreation community. Stories and cultural connections can help engage larger amounts of people.
  • The recreation and conservation communities have many positive qualities, like their shared passion for public lands; however the communities also have biases and divisions within that often affect progress. It is important to discuss the things that align our communities, but also the things that divide us.
SHIFT DRINK HAPPY HOUR at The Rose. Viral or Vital? discussion.

REI’s director of social media Lulu Gephart at the Viral or Vital happy hour at The Rose.

Aligning for Action

The SHIFT Summit participants concluded the meeting by engaging in discussion around potential next steps and action items for carrying the above ideas back to their work.

  • Expand the geographic reach of SHIFT and dive into local issues. Future SHIFT Summits could be held in places beyond Jackson Hole, WY; one option is to hold the annual SHIFT Summit in a different city each year, while another option is to hold the annual, nationwide SHIFT Summit in Jackson Hole accompanied by smaller SHIFT summits throughout the country. Summit conversations could focus on specific community-level problems and solutions rather than the high-level, national-scale conversations. Community-driven conversations would allow for more community level connections, as well as more detailed discussions on the relevant issues.
  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships could be developed in communities to discuss local, recreation and conservation issues. SHIFT could help create a model for this type of partnership in Jackson Hole, and then it could be replicated in areas across the country. This would allow each community to form a body for continuous action and discourse, rather than having one-off conversations that are not continued.
  • Build or expand public transportation in the most heavily visited places, such as Arches and Yellowstone National Parks. Rather than traffic building up and preventing access, public transportation could take more people through the park and minimize the impact on the environment.
  • Develop ways for “responsible recreators” to self-identify and promote their message. License plates or stickers could be used to communicate core messages. They could be available to people who make a donation or volunteer to support public lands and conservation.
  • Introduce recreationalists to the democratic/civic engagement process. Nonprofits, the outdoor recreation industry, and recreation communities can share information on how to engage elected officials, participate in public meeting, and comment on legislation, etc. so that recreationalists are empowered to defend their public lands.
  • Identify stronger partnerships that encourage people to devote time to exploring the outdoors. By working with airlines to assist in transportation, the outdoor recreation industry to supply guided trips and gear, and companies to create flexible policies, we could create a culture where everyone in their lifetime takes at least one trip to solidify their ties to the outdoors.
  • At the next SHIFT Summit, identify ways to stay connected with the whole group, perhaps by sharing contact information with all participants afterwards.
  • Support the development of an Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Congressional Caucus to support the conservation recreation agenda in congress.
Dr Chad Nelsen, Surfrider Foundation.

Dr Chad Nelsen, CEO of Surfrider Foundation, presents during the SHIFT Forward Awards.

SHIFT Awards

The 2015 SHIFT Awards recognize innovative, impactful, and replicable work currently making a difference to communities and public lands around North America. Nominees have demonstrated exemplary leadership in one or more of the three themes from the 2015 SHIFT Summit: outdoor access, responsible recreation, and/or conservation leadership.

Categories for the 2015 SHIFT Awards, as well as the finalists and award winners, are as follows:

Adventure Athlete

This award recognizes an adventure athlete who is also serving as an ambassador for responsible recreation, access, or conservation leadership.

Winner: Stacy Bare, Salt Lake City, UT



Carl Kish, co-founder of STOKE Certified, and winner of the Business Leadership award.

Business Leadership

This award recognizes an outdoor company, be it retail, guide service, or other business, that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains.

Winner: STOKE Certified, San Diego, CA


Non-Profit Leadership

This award recognizes individuals, an initiative, or an organization that make innovative, impactful, and replicable contributions to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation. Nominee could be a conservation organization, a community group, or a recreation organization.

Winner: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, Bozeman, MT


Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation’s Alex Hamilton during the announcements of the SHIFT Awards. Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation won the Non-Profit Leadership Award.


Public Land Management Innovation

This award recognizes an initiative or program of a local, state, or federal agency (e.g., local open space and trails, state parks, BLM, Forest Service, National Park Service, etc.).

Winner: Mike Schlafmann, Public Services Staff Officer, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA


Youth Leadership

This award recognizes an individual under 30 who is making innovative, impactful, and replicable contributions to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation.


Vincent Culliver during the announcement of the Youth Leadership Award, which he won with Tyrhee Moore in a tie.

Winner: Vincent Culliver, San Diego, CA, and Tyrhee Moore, Morgantown, WV (tie)


SHIFT Forward Awards

Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s National Conservation Training Center, one initiative, selected from the 2015 SHIFT Award winners by the audience at the SHIFT Summit, received the $10,000 SHIFT Forward Award to amplify the positive impacts of its work.

Raquel Rangel, Regional Coordinator, Latino Outdoors

Raquel Rangel, Regional Coordinator, Latino Outdoors, and winner of the $10,000 SHIFT Forward Award.

Raquel Rangel: Raquel is a Regional Coordinator for Latino Outdoors in the Central Valley, where she organizes outings for young Latino students to develop an appreciation for their place. Named by High Country News as one of “Ten People under 30 Changing the West,” Raquel was first a volunteer for the Tuolumne River Trust and other organizations in California’s Central Valley, where she noticed a lack of diversity in her outings. Raquel’s work serves the mission of Latino Outdoors, founded in 2013 to connect Latinos with nature and provide mentorship for young leaders pursuing outdoor-related careers.


  • Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) has recognized the convergence of outdoor recreation and natural science as an opportunity for citizen scientists. ASC recruits, trains, and manages individuals with strong outdoors skills—like mountaineering, diving, or whitewater kayaking—to bring back otherwise unattainable data from the far corners of the globe. Through this network, ASC hopes to be the most efficient provider of hard-to-attain environmental data that would otherwise be unavailable for conservation.
  • Chad Nelsen, CEO, Surfrider Foundation, Over the last 16 years, as the Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation, Chad Nelson has been a part of hundreds of on-the-ground victories that have made for healthier coasts. One of Chad’s proudest accomplishments has been the establishment of the Reserve Marina Tres Palmas in Puerto Rico, one of the first marine reserves dedicated to protecting the marine environment and surfing. Another was the huge victory to save Trestles in San Clemente by stopping a six-lane toll road that would have destroyed the state park and the world-class wave. Chad has also helped lead the development of “surfonomics,” which is the science of understanding the economic value of surfing. Surfonomics is now being applied to coastal preservation efforts around the world. The economic value of healthy coastal ecosystems is an underutilized tool in coastal conservation – something we are changing through our ocean recreation studies.
  • The Access Fund’s ROCK Project The ROCK Project, on behalf of the Access Fund, is dedicated to sharing Responsible Outdoor Climbing Knowledge. The ROCK Project builds on the overall mission of the Access fund, seeking to engage the climbing community and activate positive social norms, backed by consistent educational content, messaging, and programming that is specific to regional access issues and environmental concerns. To promote their message, the ROCK Project has launched a multi-stop event tour to US climbing hot spots, where days are filled with climbing clinics, presentations, stewardship projects, and parties. At its core, the ROCK Project asks that climbers commit to the ROCK Project Pact, a pledge to uphold good climbing ethics, protect mountain environments, and ensure continued access to cliffs and crags.
  • Winter Wildlands Association’s SnowSchool: The SnowSchool program is a nationally replicable program that aims to inspire a lifelong interest in exploring the wonders of our nation’s winter wildlands. SnowSchool provides experiential hands-on learning through their guided snowshoe trips for youth that align with state department of education science standards. School teachers grades 3-12 become local partners with SnowSchool, and prep their students by incorporating science curriculum that aligns with the SnowSchool mission. Exploring topics like snow water equivalent, water cycle, watershed systems, ecology, and wildlife biology, SnowSchool seeks to promote a lifelong appreciation for local ecosystems, especially winter environments in peril. SnowSchool also provides science-education training and mentorship to site staff and new and emerging SnowSchool sites to achieve the broadest reach of their work.


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