I’m sure most of you love nature and being outdoors, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. You might have noticed that in the environmental field there is something missing. Or even when you go out on hikes to a nature reserve or a state park. Not all Americans have the same interest in nature or use the nation’s wild places. Minority populations are less likely to participate in outdoor recreation and other environmental activities. If this is the first time you have heard this I recommend you to check out these two great books about it, Black Faces, White Spaces and The Adventure Gap.
For my internship I am working for the Sierra Club to develop and deliver a program, Detroit Outdoors, which will hopefully contribute to solve the issue of misrepresentation of minorities in environmentalism. 84.3% of Detroit’s population is African American, which makes it the perfect city to make a change. Detroit Outdoors will be targeting youth in the city; research has showed that adults that were introduced to outdoors recreation from an early age were more likely to participate in outdoor and stewardship activities. Many young people in Detroit have never gone camping or hiking, which contributes to the unequal trends of natural areas usage among different races.
Detroit Outdoors is a proactive response to an unmet need in the community. The Detroit Outdoors program provides training, camping gear, and programming for youth serving organizations to have an overnight camping experience right in their own city. Underserved Detroit youth and families lack the skills, knowledge, and equipment to safely enjoy camping. The program will allow youth to have a better understanding of their public parks, the plants and animals in them, and ultimately themselves. Below you will see an image I created for our outreach materials containing the 3 steps youth leaders have to take to bring their group to camp at our site. One of my first tasks was to create our website, check it out; I’m very proud of it!
I started the internship the first week of February and will be done the last week of September. During my time here I have learned so much, I could probably write a short book about it! From driving in snow to managing invasive species I’ve never heard of before and communicating with people from a completely different background than mine. Detroit is definitely growing on me; I will enjoy it as much as I can!
As the U.S keeps becoming multicultural we have to strive to include people of all races and ethnicities so they care for our environment and become their steward. There are many ways you can address this issue in your city and I hope everyone contributes their two cents in one way or another.
– Ana Quevedo (firstname.lastname@example.org)