Summit Series

The 2017 Summit Series will feature enriched education and influential content leaders addressing current challenges facing our community such as diversity in the outdoors, access to public lands, and sustainability and stewardship.


  A Whole New Story: Re-examining Conservation's History 
Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy, The Wilderness Society
Hannah Malvin, Recreation Policy Associate, The Wilderness Society

Wednesday, Nov. 1 | 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. | Shenandoah B

The conservation community is proud of the history of preserving lands in the United States for public use. To some degree, this pride is justified. However, the story of public land protection in the U.S. is often told through the eyes of the white male leaders of the conservation movement, leaving out relevant themes and events for indigenous people, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, LGBTQ Americans, and women. In 2016, The Wilderness Society set out to develop a more inclusive version of this story. Working with the Avarna Group, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion outdoors consultant, TWS rebuilt an existing public lands educational curriculum to be more inclusive of the experiences of everyone affected by America's land management history.

Together in the session we examine attitudes of early European settlers, shifting perceptions of wilderness, and consider who public lands were created and protected for. Session attendees will walk through a timeline of events in public lands history including dispossession, marginalization, disenfranchisement, discrimination, and violence. We will talk through the timeline and our reactions, and examine the exclusion of communities from public lands. We will discuss the importance of grappling with our complex history honestly, and the importance of making sure our parks are relevant and accessible for all Americans.
Designing Outdoor Leadership for Tomorrow 
Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO, Outdoor Afro

Wednesday, Nov. 1 | 1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. | Shenandoah B
Sponsored by: 
Building on the leadership themes of the keynote, Rue will share more examples and lead a discussion about what it takes to facilitate effective, locally relevant outdoor leadership.
No, National Parks are not America's Best Idea 
Alan Spears, Cultural Resources Director, National Parks Conservation Association

Wednesday, Nov. 1 | 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. | Shenandoah B

Is the way we talk about our national parks undermining efforts to connect them to more diverse audiences?

In 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service, well over 300 million visitors flocked to such places as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Harpers Ferry. Despite those robust numbers the people visiting our national parks (as well as those working for the Park Service) do not reflect the actual diversity by race and ethnicity of the 21st United States. Two decades of enhancing cultural diversity work and an emerging emphasis on relevancy, equity and inclusion have have yet to move the dial in a truly positive direction. Is it possible that those critical initiatives are being undermined by the founding principles and langauge we use to describe national parks?

This presentation will investigate how the "America's Best Idea" concept may be doing more harm than good when it comes to contemporary enhancing diversity efforts.
Discussion of 2016 AORE Diversity & Inclusion Survey Results 
Elizabeth Rogers, Adjunct Faculty, Westminster College

Thursday, Nov. 2 | 8:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. | Shenandoah B

This presentation will serve as a platform to present and discuss the results of the diversity and inclusion survey administered to the AORE membership in 2016. The purpose of the presentation is to gain a better understanding of how the AORE perceives and practices diversity and inclusion in their respective outdoor programs. This includes barriers to participation of underrepresented populations. Additionally, the presentation will provide takeaways of successful DEI practices identified in the survey that individuals can apply to their outdoor programs.
Training Veterans as Peer Leaders for Sierra Club Outings 
Aaron Leonard, Student Veteran Coordinator, Sierra Club Outdoors

Thursday, Nov. 2 | 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. | Shenandoah B

Creating opportunities to bring veterans and their families into your program can be challenging. From university campuses to your local outfitter, the veteran community is slow to trust and reluctant to join groups not lead by their peers. Learn how the Sierra Club's Military Outdoors has recruited and trained veterans to lead our Military Outdoors program, growing to over 70,000 members since 2006.

The Sierra Club Military Outdoors leadership training program was designed by veterans for veterans, combining the traditional Sierra Club Outings leadership course with a train-the-trainer program that adds mindfulness and wellness workshops to our volunteer's tool box. With all workshops designed for the veteran community and deliverable on the trail, we empower our volunteers to do more than the day hike or overnight backpacking trip. Now our volunteers can provide the tools needed for veterans and their families to make needed changes in their lives, helping them to fully transition from a military lifestyle to a healthy and purposeful civilian lifestyle.

In this session, you will learn about the Club's longstanding connection with the military community, the Military Outdoors mindfulness and wellness program model designed with our partner at Weill Cornell Medicine, and proven methods to recruit veterans and their families already in your community while practicing equity and inclusiveness at each step. This session will be especially helpful if you run an outdoors program at a University or in a community.
Creating Deeper Connections to Protected Public Lands through Stewardship
Eric Giebelstein, Program Manager, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards
Thursday, Nov. 2
| 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. | Shenandoah B

Engaging new communities in stewardship is essential to protect the character of and the experience in our wildest public lands. As agency budgets have decreased, the need to inspire people to steward their public lands has increased. While groups of volunteers have stepped up to this challenge, there is a lack of younger, more diverse generations involved in stewardship. As the demographics of our country change, it will be essential to engage this generation and instill a sense of ownership and care for protected public lands.

Recreation and stewardship provide the experiential and ownership components needed for public lands relevancy and protection, empowering participants of outdoor recreation programs to experience the benefits of protected public lands and develop pride in the work done to protect its character. But developing relationships around shared interests with agencies and organizations is daunting. In this presentation, participants will develop the skills and tools to engage with stewardship entities and start a stewardship wing for their program. Using these skills, participant will be able to form a deeper relationship with the land for their participants and with the land management agency and local stewardship groups to improve their program.
From Program Design to Student Habits: Sustainability Operations and Education 
Lindsey MacDonald, Graduate Program Coordinator, North Cascades Institute

Thursday, Nov. 2 | 4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. | Shenandoah B

This workshop will 1) support practitioners in assessing program operations through the lens of sustainability, 2) provide tools for leveraging change toward sustainability within a university setting, and 3) guide participants through development of an action plan focused on integrating educational components that support sustainability literacy for students. The focus will be on environmental and social aspects of sustainability, but economics will not be ignored.