prairie grass
kids sit in meditation with park ranger outside
November 21, 2019
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Engaging Younger and More Diverse Audiences

From Ashley Pethan, Friends Group Coordinator, P&TC

A common question I hear from friends groups is: How do we get more young people involved? You’re not alone. This question is being asked by organizations all over the country in the outdoor recreation and conservation sector.

We understand that friends groups want to ensure their work and stewardship is sustained into the future, and that means connecting new folks to friends group activities and leadership roles. So, how do you do that? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet answer. It will require time, energy, and investment in many different efforts.

I wanted to share with you one way I’ve been trying to find answers to this question: learning about and engaging in JEDI work. JEDI stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

I recently tuned in to two webinars presented by the Avarna Group, a nationally known consulting group that focuses on the intersection of social and environmental justice and JEDI. In these webinars, the Avarna Group highlights how trail groups and outdoor organizations can start evaluating and working towards more welcoming spaces for everyone. They highlight many actions that can be taken as an individual and as a group.

I invite you to watch each of the two webinars to start thinking about how your group may invite, support, and engage with more folks with different backgrounds and experiences.

Webinar 1: The What and Why of JEDIWebinar 2: JEDI Strategies for your Organization

JEDI is about:

  • recognizing that communities of color, native people, folks with disabilities, women, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and young people experience and enjoy the outdoors in different ways
  • understanding how different folks feel in outdoor spaces, like spending time at a park or reading trail interpretation signs or being at a nature-based organization’s board meeting
  • breaking down barriers that some folks experience with engagement in these outdoor activities and helping folks feel more comfortable in these spaces
  • learning about things like unconscious bias and cultural competency
  • listening to and sharing stories from communities that are not typically told in history books
  • understanding that this work is not something to achieve, but to keep learning about and responding to

Don’t hesitate to reach out before or after watching the webinars with any questions or ideas you may have. I look forward to talking about this with you as we all work towards answering the question: How do we get more young people involved?

Ashley Pethan, Friends Group Coordinator, P&TC

apethan@parksandtrails.org, 651-726-2457