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By Kimiko Martinez, Yosemite Conservancy Chief Marketing & Communications Officer

 

Woman in Yosemite Conservancy ballcap with Yosemite valley and nature behind her

Conservation is an inside job. Let me explain.

When I walk around Yosemite Valley, I’m always delighted by the diversity in the groups of friends and families that I see. I love seeing the amazement on people’s faces and hearing the excitement in their voices — the gasps of awe and wonder that I instantly recognize, regardless of the language being spoken. 

The variety of visitors is evident in most national parks. Yosemite is no exception. And still, I know there are people who have never visited any public lands or had a positive experience out in nature. And I want to be one of the people — and organizations — that can help change that.

I’ve visited dozens of state, regional, and national parks, but I haven’t always felt safe doing so. Depending on where I am in the country, I’ve felt apprehension at best and outright fear at worst. Too many times I’ve looked around and realized I was the only woman of color around.

I’ve also felt excluded from upleveling my skills from day hikes to backpacking and thru-hikes because of the gear and expertise needed (as well as a healthy fear of wild animals — including humans — as a solo female traveler).

And I know I’m not the only one.

Too many of us have felt unwelcome in the outdoors. And there’s a host of reasons for that. But public lands are for everyone, and we want to support people in reconnecting with that sense of connectedness to the Earth; to remind people that they are an integral part of nature, not separate from it. 

So, this National Park Week (and far beyond), we want to help get more bodies of all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and abilities into and connected to the outdoors. 

We’ve been supporting programs that connect youth with nature for years. But through our new Protect Your Wild campaign, we’re now joining the many many voices already in the outdoor equity space, including organizations, influencers, allies, and individuals who have been working to #DiversifyOutdoors for years.

(Some of my favorites include Hike ClerbOutdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, Melanin Basecamp, Pride Outside, the Venture Out Project,  Brown People Camping, Disabled Hikers, Outdoorist Oath, Unlikely Hikers, Pattie Gonia … and so many more.)

The people behind this movement have also been addressing the host of reasons for the lack of inclusivity in outdoor spaces — ranging from the tight-knit, sometimes-exclusionary cultures in climbing, camping, and hiking to cultural, economic, and accessibility barriers; lack of access to transportation, education about nature, representation in outdoor activities and spaces, and consideration for varying identities; limited exposure to outdoor activities; historical exclusion; and more.

But it all comes back to this: We are part nature. We are not apart from it. And tapping into that connectedness is good for all of us. (That’s why I say that conservation is an inside job.)

As José González, founder of Latino Outdoors, said:

“My journey exploring our public lands and the outdoors coincided with my journey inward, exploring my cultural identity. And as those paths intertwined, I came to realize that when we learn to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for both our natural and cultural spaces, we have richer, fuller, and more empowering experiences.”

We want you to protect the wild around you — and in you. When you build a love for self and see yourself as part of nature and wild places, you want to protect it.

So when we invite you to Protect Your Wild, we want you to protect the wild around you — and in you. Protect what makes the outdoors special — and what makes you unabashedly you. 

By heading outside — anywhere from a local greenspace to a national park — you’re helping to protect wild-ness everywhere. And as you express the full range of you, we’ll continue to protect the full range of Yosemite. 

And as you protect your wild, you can also help us protect more than 400 kinds of mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and reptiles that call Yosemite home; over 750 miles of trails and routes; and the 750,000 acres of natural beauty we call Yosemite National Park. 

We’re honored to have an assortment of content creators with varying identities sharing how they protect their wild and what the outdoors means to them, including Amanda Capable, founder of EveryBODY on Trails; Luz Lituma, co-founder of Latinx Hikers; Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors; Brittany Leavitt, CEO of Brown Girls Climb and an Outdoor Afro alumni, Ambreen Tariq of Brown People Camping; Zoe Peterson and Kelby Jecker of @the_AdventureAddicts, and more.

We hope you’ll join us in protecting your wild — in and outside of you. Because when we do, the whole planet will thrive.

See you in the wild!

 

Woman doing a yoga pose on a rock surrounded by forest. Text reads: Your outdoor adventure personality is: forest bather.

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget to take your outdoor adventure personality quiz (I’m a Forest Bather, no surprises there!) and get our guide to protecting your wild wherever you are.