We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. The past five have wiped out between 75% and 96% of the planet’s species. Today, species are disappearing 1,000 times faster than in pre-human times.
Technology has also sparked what author Florence Williams, in The Nature Fix, calls the “biggest mass migration in human history”—a migration indoors, behind screens. This in turn has led to a population that simply doesn’t care about the future of the natural world. Why should it, if it doesn’t go outside?
Jackson biologist Olaus Murie used to say, “It’s going to take all of us to do it.” Until our efforts to protect our lands, waters and wildlife represent the rights and interests of all people, we won’t be strong enough to succeed.
The Center for Jackson Hole is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the coalition of interests devoted to our public lands. We achieve this mission via two main programs: SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow), an annual festival, held each autumn in Jackson Hole, that explores issues at the intersection of conservation, outdoor recreation and cultural relevancy; and The Emerging Leaders Program, which trains a culturally diverse group of young outdoor recreationists to lead conservation work at SHIFT and in America.
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 recreationists, land managers, 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 our public lands 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.
By uniting natural allies and combining the protection of place with health, business, responsible recreation and cultural relevancy, 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 public lands. With your help, we look forward to creating a unified framework for their stewardship.
The 2019 SHIFT Festival will build on 2018’s work to develop the critical connection between time spent outside on our lands and waters and the health and wellbeing of all Americans.
From Oct. 16-18 in Jackson, Wyoming, SHIFT will feature the innovators, early adopters and thought leaders at the forefront of the “Outside Rx” movement with an agenda that creates a stronger connection between — and thus a stronger argument for — public health and public lands.
Public health is the last frontier of ecosystem services. The 2019 SHIFT Festival will continue to explore ways to use it to raise the value proposition of nature in American society.
Overview: The 2019 SHIFT Festival is informed by the Center for Disease Control’s determinants of population health.
The 2019 SHIFT Festival will highlight the health benefits of spending time outside: how outdoor recreation on our public lands creates a healthier citizenry, attracts new advocates to the outdoor industry, promotes stewardship and advances quality of life in communities across America.
The Festival will be developed around two elements integral to our goal of facilitating networking and the showcasing of best practices:
The growing disconnect from nature not only adds billions of dollars to health care costs; it simultaneously undermines the value of nature and our public lands in society at large. At a time when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside, and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and mental anxiety are chronic, this year’s SHIFT makes the critical connection between time outside on our lands and waters and the health of our people.
For more information on The 2018 program, click here.
Christian Beckwith, Director: The founder and director of SHIFT and its parent organization, The Center for Jackson Hole, Christian Beckwith moved to Jackson, Wyoming, in 1994, and started his first publication, The Mountain Yodel. 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 Teton Boulder Project, which developed a bouldering park at the base of Jackson’s Snow King Mountain to honor Teton climbing pioneers; launched Outerlocal, a social media website for adventure athletes; and started The Town Pump, a summertime bouldering series. 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.
Gerben Scherpbier, Operation Right Seat Left Seat Coordinator: Gerben is the Youth Programming Manager for the Youth Opportunities Program of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Based out of the AMC headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, he helps to train youth workers and teachers serving urban and low-income communities to take their students on outdoor trips. Gerben also serves on two of AMC’s “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Groups,” and has started a weekly staff lunch to discuss issues of social justice and identity as they pertain to outdoor recreation and environmentalism.
Prior to working at the AMC, Gerben spent three seasons working as a ranger in Yellowstone National Park—two as a crew leader with the Youth Conservation Corps, and one as a protection ranger. Gerben 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.
Alfonso Orozco: Alfonso was born in agricultural Hollister, CA, but grew up in Oakland. His interest in the outdoors was sparked from an Outdoor Leadership class he took at San Francisco State University, from which he later received a B.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration. When he realized that backpacking existed, he made a personal goal of learning how to backpack. Little did he know that this interest would turn into a lifelong passion and career. It began with a Yosemite backpacking trip and evolved into positions with Bay Area Wilderness Training, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Alcatraz National Park, and Virgin Islands National Park. He quickly realized that he had a passion for the outdoors and education! With those two things in his heart he packed up all of his swim suits and sunscreen bottles and left his Virgin Islands position to to pursue a graduate degree in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In May of 2016, Outdoor 30 Under 30 recognized Alfonso as a young outdoor professional who is “challenging the status quo and driving the outdoor industry forward.” Alfonso was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in the fall of 2016. He is currently in pursuit of his M.S. in environmental education at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY. Alfonso is also the Latino Outdoors Coordinator for the state of Wyoming, where he works to connect Latino families and young adults to the outdoors.
José Gonzaléz: José González is the founder of Latino Outdoors and an experienced educator in formal and informal education settings with an array of associated interests in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. He has broad experience as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching credential coursework was at the Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at California State University, Sacramento.
As a public school teacher, he taught courses in Spanish, Social Studies, Behavior Intervention for at-risk youth, and English Language Development in middle school and high school settings. As a Program Coordinator at San Jose State University with the California Mini-Corps Program, he trained and led groups of undergraduate students providing direct instructional services to migrant students in partner school districts and in outdoor education programs. At the University of Michigan, School of Education, he was an instructor for science education in their undergraduate program. Recently, at the National Hispanic University, he has taught course on Science Methods, Math Methods, Primary & Secondary Language Development, Latino Culture, and Technology Integration at the Teacher Education Department.
In his capacity developing LO, José developed opportunities and collaborations with organizations seeking to diversify their outdoor and conservation programs.
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, Len 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 interest 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: 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: 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.
Courtney Aber: Courtney Aber is the National Director for BOLD and GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) at the YMCA. She works to lead efforts across sectors to expand opportunities for youth to create a meaningful personal connection to the outdoors. BOLD and GOLD brings youth from all different backgrounds together to build self-confidence, community awareness, and a sense of wonder for the natural world. In addition to running outdoor programs, she has been the Education Director for a maritime museum and worked for several years as a Learning Specialist. Courtney has been involved with outdoor programming since 1992 when she decided to take a summer “off” and lead outdoor trips before getting a real job. Since then she has led trips on 3 continents, in 5 countries, and throughout the US. She continues to be amazed at the power of the outdoors to change lives and to bring out the best in people.
Taimur Ahmad: Taimur Ahmad grew up in New York City, where he learned to fish and climb in the lakes and on the boulders of Central Park. At Princeton, he was active in outdoor education and recreation programs as a leader and leader-trainer, and also founded his own campus outing group. After graduating in 2016 he took a position as a Recreation and Forest Policy Fellow at The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C., where he works on issues related to outdoor access and recreation. Taimur was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in 2016.
Stacy Bare: Stacy Bare is a climber and skier, the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors (SCO), a veteran of the war in Iraq, and a brand ambassador for The North Face, Keen Shoes, and Combat Flip Flops. SCO facilitates 250,000+ people getting outside each year. Under his direction, SCO launched the Great Outdoors Lab with the University of California-Berkeley in 2014 to put scientifically defensible data behind the power of the outdoors to support improved mental, physical, and public health. He is also a 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and the 2015 SHIFT Adventure Athlete of the Year. He holds degrees from the Universities of Mississippi and Pennsylvania and is at home in Salt Lake City with his wife, Dr. Makenzie Selland and their daughter Wilder.
Meryl Harrell: Meryl L. R. Harrell is a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Since joining USDA in 2009, Meryl has been involved in a range of natural resource issues, including land management planning and connecting youth to the great outdoors. Prior to joining USDA, Meryl was part of the President’s Campaign for Change in 2008, and has also worked on public lands issues at The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. Meryl received her J.D. from the Yale Law School, where she studied environmental law, and graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in geosciences and environmental studies from Princeton University. She is also an alum of the Teton Science School, where her love of rocks turned into a passion for public lands. A New Jersey native, Meryl enjoys spending as much time as she can hiking on our National Forests and Grasslands with her husband Peter and son Sam.
Peter Metcalf: Peter Metcalf co-founded Black Diamond, Inc. in 1989 and became its Chief Executive Officer May 28, 2010. Mr. Metcalf served as the President of Black Diamond, Inc. from May 28, 2010 to August 11, 2014, and as its Director from May 28, 2010 to May 29, 2015. He co-founded Clarus Corp., and served as its Chief Executive Officer and President on May 28, 2010. 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 October 1, 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.
Michelle Piñon: Michelle Piñon is the Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for Latino Outdoors and an Outdoor Trip Leader with Washington Trails Association. Hailing from sunny Southern California, Michelle is a Seattle transplant working to protect Washington state’s majestic wilderness. Her initial attraction to environmentalism arose while organizing against workers’ rights violations in the food industry. Through activism within her Latino community, she began to question how communities form and connect to nature. She independently launched the Latino Outdoors Washington Chapter with ten outdoors experiences for Latino families. A graduate of Yale University, Michelle spends her free time exploring the US and learning about regional environmental issues. Michelle was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in the fall of 2016.
Luther Propst: 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 andCommerce 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 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.
Alyssa Ravassio: Alyssa is the founder and CEO of Hipcamp, a web platform that connects people with public and private land for camping. Their mission is get more people outside. She has a degree from UCLA in Digital Democracy and her deepest passion is helping shape how the internet impacts our humanity and our planet.
Ted Staryk: 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.