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 Californians to the outdoors.* The Coalition recognizes that social injustices can impact all aspects of our lives, including outdoor engagement, and strives to contribute to removing barriers to accessing the outdoors. The Coalition fosters diverse ways for Californians to appreciate and interact with the outdoors that reflect cultural and ethnic practices and understandings.
*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, riparian corridors, and oceans
- Open and undeveloped spaces and easements
- 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 Coalition members such as African American Explorations, the Avarna Group, Latino Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, 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. We have also found publicly available online resources that can help to support our members and prepare them for various outdoor spaces.
Every Kid in a Park-Richmond
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 four 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.
At our 2016 launch, NFL star Marshawn Lynch handed out park passes to the 4th graders.
Photo Credits: National Park Service, Department of Interior
Past partnerships focused on equity
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
The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition partnered with leaders of over 20 different BioBlitzes including California State Parks, National Parks, Regional Parks, Natural Reserves, University Campuses and schoolyards. We worked with José Gonzalez, Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors, and California 4-H Latino Initiative 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, which are culturally relevant and inclusive, entitled Descubre Outside! Discover Afuera!
Photo credits: Teresa Baker, Kelly Sullivan Photography