NWF Emerging Leaders Participate in Outdoor Nation Summits This Fall

from Wildlife Promise

Outdoor Nation is a community of Outsiders dedicated to reconnecting millennials with the outdoors. For the third consecutive year, Outdoor Nation has hosted a series of Outdoor Nation Summits to find solutions to the challenges that keep people from getting outdoors. For two days, summit participants discuss barriers to getting outdoors, brainstorm ideas, and some receive funding for the best and brightest projects. Oh yeah, and they campout! What’s a conference about getting outdoors without getting outdoors?

“Outsiders” at the San Francisco Outdoor Nation Summit 2012
Photo Credit: Outdoor Nation

This year, five members of the National Wildlife Federation’s Emerging Leaders Council (ELC) – Katherine Dockery, Andrew Kamerosky, Andrew Lee, Patricia Tilllmann, and Lauren Sabo – attended the Outdoor Nation Intensive Training (ON-IT) summit in either San Francisco or Atlanta. Andrew Kamerosky, an ELC member from the Florida Youth Congress, organized a caravan of students from three universities in Florida to attend the summit in Atlanta!

At the San Francisco summit, Patricia Tillmann, an Emerging Leader working as a Research Associate at NWF in the Seattle office described the training as “youth engagement done right”. Patricia had this to say about what went well for her:
“For me, the North Face Ambassadors were really inspiring. We had a campfire in the evening and the Ambassadors humbly shared their stories. Most of them came from at-risk backgrounds and shared exceptionally powerful stories about the role of nature in turning their lives around. I felt very emotional during their stories and reconnected to the positive power of nature in all our lives. “

Patricia’s group devised a project idea that will be funded by Outdoor Nations. Her project mission is to inspire a lifetime in the outdoors and bridge the gap between interest and action – one video at a time. They will accomplish this by increasing youth access to the outdoors by creating and showing a video of their favorite outdoor activities to high school students (at least 1,750 students in the first year). They will also create pamphlets with information on gear rental, training, and excursions, emphasizing free and low-cost options in their area.

Photo Credit: Outdoor Nation

In Atlanta, the festivities kicked off with a few entertaining icebreakers to get participants better acquainted. The first breakout session mission: determine the top few reasons why people are not getting outdoors. Everything from access to natural places to stereotypes associated with camping outdoors came up. It was a tremendous benefit having people in the room representing so many different interests, ethnic backgrounds, organizations, and age groups. Andrew Kamerosky commented on the diversity of the attendees:

“The weekend focused on devising a plan for encouraging outdoor activities and the attendees represented a very diverse mix of public and private groups who all helped with the envisioning process. More importantly, the event was very helpful to my diverse group of students from three colleges; it encouraged collaboration and introduced them to the larger movements beyond their campuses.

Overall, the ELC Outdoor Nation participants enjoyed their weekend with fellow outsiders. Many of them are already considering bringing a new delegation of outdoor enthusiast to a summit next year!