Participants at the Winter Emerging Leaders Program in February. Photo: Mabari Byrd
Since The Emerging Leaders Program’s debut in October 2016 at the SHIFT Festival, and the subsequent Winter Emerging Leaders Program (“WELP”) held in Jackson in February, Emerging Leaders have been busy.
How busy? Let us count the ways.
In March, Madeline Carey helped advance bi-partisan legislation to create a state office of outdoor recreation in New Mexico. Outdoor recreation supports 68,000 jobs and generates more than $450 million in tax revenue for the state. The legislation seeks to expand New Mexico’s outdoor recreation sector, create jobs and spur economic development.
At SHIFT in October, Zeppelin Zeerip of WZRD Media met KEEN Footwear’s Kirsten Blackburn. The connection turned into KEEN’s sponsorship of a multi-year film project that will showcase the public lands debate in the West.
Using Bears Ears National Monument as a focal point, the film will explore diverse perspectives on the future of public lands, placing ranchers, tribal members, legislators, conservationists and recreationists at the center of the dialogue. The film is projected for release in Spring 2018.
Zeerip and his team also filmed 12 interviews with Emerging Leaders at WELP that captured their perspectives on outdoor rec and public lands. The interviews are currently being developed into a series of short films that are scheduled to be released this summer.
As a result of connections made with Sierra Club Outdoors at the 2016 SHIFT Festival, Mabari Byrd accepted a position with the organization as the Delaware Watershed Community Coordinator. In the position, Byrd will oversee efforts to connect Philadelphia youth and veteran communities to the Delaware River watershed through outdoor activities, experiential education and advocacy.
Alfonso Orozco, who recently completed a dual Master’s degree in Natural Science Education and Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming’s Haub School, joined the Center for Jackson Hole’s Board of Directors in March. As part of his board leadership, he is spearheading a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the next class of Emerging Leaders.
In the spring of 2017, at least $20,000 in federal-agency funding that had been earmarked for scholarship funds for The 2017 Emerging Leaders Program was paused due to federal budget cuts.
Recognizing the threat this loss posed to the future of the program, Alfonso coordinated an effort by alumni of the 2016 program to raise scholarship funds for 2017 participants. The objective of the campaign is to raise $7,000—10% of the costs of the 2017 program. Funds raised above and beyond $7,000 will be used to further underwrite per-person costs for the class of 2017.
In early 2017, Taimur Ahmad, Grace Anderson and Michelle Piñon joined The Center for Jackon Hole’s Advisory Council. In February, Ahmad hosted the first SHIFTx stakeholder meeting outside Jackson Hole. The meeting, which focused on urban youth engagement in the outdoor spaces of Washington, D.C., attracted participants from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, City Kids Wilderness Project, Groundwork USA, Groundwork DC, Latino Outdoors, National Park Service, Outdoor Afro, Patagonia, REI, and The Wilderness Society.
Ahmad is currently developing a subsequent meeting on the topic.
Claire Martini and Michelle Piñon, Ciarra Greene, Janet Valenzuela and Madeleine Carey are working on SHIFTx stakeholder discussion meetings in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles. Each SHIFTx is being customized by the Emerging Leader running it to address issues relevant to their communities.
Under the leadership of Elizabeth Case, Emerging Leaders recorded interviews with one another at WELP that captured their personal perspectives on the outdoor rec/conservation partnership. The interviews are being developed into a podcast that will elevate the voices of outdoor recreationists who are less often heard in the space. The podcast will launch this summer.
Rachel Woods-Robinson reported, “I am mortified of public speaking, and even though I stayed pretty quiet at WELP, interacting with the strong yet vulnerable speakers of WELP has been an invaluable experience for me. I am now more motivated than ever to work on these skills and take risks because, in order to be the spokesperson for science who I strive to be, I need to, well, speak!”
Woods-Robinson transformed her ELP experience into a blog post for the UC Berkeley Science Graduate Student community entitled “So, You’re Fired Up!? Now What?. She also plans a storytelling workshop for scientists as a way to build empathy around shared values.
Applications for the next class of Emerging Leaders are open until June 1. More information on the program may be found here.