Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition has a responsibility to engage in equity, diversity and inclusion measures by following trends and seeking to ensure access for underrepresented youth to the outdoors. We recognize that social injustices can impact all aspects of our lives, including outdoor* engagement, and we strive to contribute to removing barriers to accessing the outdoors. We foster diverse ways of appreciating and interacting with the outdoors that are rooted in cultural practices and understanding.
*Outdoors: What We Mean
The outdoors should be accessible, engaging and safe to everyone, no matter who you are, where you’re from and where you live, work and play. Consequently, the outdoors include, but are not limited to, the following spaces:
- Anywhere nature is found, including transformed vacant lots, schoolyards, urban gardens, backyards, parks (e.g., city, county, regional, state, national), sidewalks, multi-use paths/trails, greenways, etc.
- Water sources, including ponds, lakes, streams, reservoirs, baylands, wetlands and oceans
- Open and undeveloped spaces and easements
- Wetlands, baylands and riparian corridors
- Natural ecosystems (not all “green”), including deserts, snow-covered mountains, beaches, etc.
- Learning centers (museums, zoo, aquariums and other environments dedicated to learning about nature)
As we engage in this ongoing process and continue to refine our approach, we are using resources and support from partners such as the Avarna Group, Teresa Baker of African American Explorations and José González of Latino Outdoors, Dr. Nina Roberts and Youth Outside to support our members with training, experiences and programs that enable us to provide more culturally relevant and inclusive programming.
In August 2016, we partnered with the National Park Service, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Groundwork Richmond, Latino Outdoors, African American Explorations and The Trail Posse to host Youth, Equity and Inclusion: The Next Generation of the National Park Service. We were joined by over 125 youth, park superintendents and partners to hear from the youth, collaborate on solutions and pledge future action. The Pacific West Region of the National Park Service has now hired our former program coordinator, Paola Flores (via an agreement with the Conservation Legacy Environmental Stewards Program) as an Interpretation, Education, Volunteer and Youth Fellow to continue similar gatherings throughout the region.
Photo Credits: Teresa Baker
In honor of the 2016 National Park Service centennial, President Obama launched the Every Kid in a Park campaign to provide all 4th graders and their families with free access to all federally owned lands and waters for an entire year. For the past two years, the California Outdoor Engagement Coalition has partnered with the National Park Service, Rosie the Riveter Trust and West Contra Costa Unified School District to bring 1,200 4th graders from Richmond and San Pablo to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park, including a 1 mile walk along the beautiful San Francisco Bay Trail. This partnership includes Every Kid in a Park Passes for all 2,500 4th graders in the district.
We are also expanding the Every Kid in a Park initiative to partner with California 4-H in six counties throughout the state that are prioritizing increased Latino engagement. Resources and expertise from partners such as José González, Youth Outside and The Avarna Group are helping us ensure that these programs are culturally relevant and inclusive.
Photo Credits: National Park Service, Department of Interior
The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition is partnering with leaders of over 20 different BioBlitzes including National Parks, Regional Parks, California State Parks, Natural Reserves, University Campuses and schoolyards.
These partnerships are a case study of how a successful program, which has been created and refined by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service, can be enhanced by incremental partners. The coalition has made it a priority to leverage the following assets:
- University Students: Can earn course credit to serve as leaders of the BioBlitzes on university campuses, in parks and in local schoolyards. This not only engages more millennials in these experiences but allows them to serve as role models for local youth.
- Cultural Relevance: We’re working with José Gonzalez, Founder and CEO of Latino Outdoors, to engage underrepresented communities in meaningful ways and extend the BioBlitz connections beyond a one-day experience to a series of six sessions on biodiversity and environmental action projects.
- Teacher Training: We’re working with Kurt Holland, the California Geographic Alliance (part of the National Geographic Education Foundation) and other leaders in Environmental Education to integrate BioBlitzes into teacher professional development.
- Evaluation: UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science conducted the evaluation of the 2015 BioBlitz at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Along with UC Davis' Center for Community and Citizen Science (in the School of Education), they're conducting pilot observation protocols to evaluate the impact of BioBlitzes on participants. UC Davis’ Center for Community and Citizen Science is also researching the long-term outcomes (science learning, environmental stewardship and civic engagement) of BioBlitzes.
For more information, check out our partner website, California BioBlitz.
Photo credits: Teresa Baker, Kelly Sullivan Photography