Strengthening Outdoor Leadership Skills
Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires African-American connections to nature through recreation and conservation activities. Currently, the social media-based effort engages 100,000 unique monthly visitors nationally through its trips and online platforms. Founder Rue Mapp envisioned a wider scope of Outdoor Afro outreach, though; the group should seek not just to inspire but also to increase the environmental education of a new and diverse leadership pool, that is able to connect its community to conservation in a culturally relevant way.
For 95 years, The Golden Gate Audubon Society (GGAS) has pursued a two-fold mission of protecting the natural spaces in the San Francisco Bay area and engaging its residents in recognizing the interwoven relationship between a healthy environment and healthy human communities. As a former staff member at GGAS, Rue Mapp was proud to partner again with this respected local environmental organization to help facilitate new community connections to nature.
Under the leadership of Outdoor Afro and Golden Gate Audubon staff, the Innovation Grant-supported “Outdoor Afro Leadership Team” originally intended to lead one outdoor trip per quarter beginning in May, 2012. The demand for the programs was so strong that Outdoor Afro expanded the program, offering 14 TogetherGreen events. The events combined recreation with conservation, encouraging participants to become more environmentally aware. Many of the events took place at the East Bay Watershed, which is an essential location in the Audubon Society’s Pacific Flyway. This boosted interest in protecting birds and other wildlife.
Rue describes Outdoor Afro’s efforts, explaining, “The goal is to develop a model of engagement that helps shift cultural thinking and activities toward more meaningful outdoor/nature engagement for diverse audiences, and make more visible and relevant organizations that support linkages between conservation and quality of life for all living species.”