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Rue Mapp Receives Award for Communications
National Wildlife Federation is proud to present this year’s National Conservation Achievement Award for Communications to Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, an organization that uses social media to reinvent African American connections to nature.
The success of Mapp’s work has been honored by invitations to the White House for its America’s Great Outdoors initiative and to sit in on Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” think tank, along with several other accolades.
The award will be presented at the National Conservation Achievement Awards Gala on April 30, at the Renaissance Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Mapp’s love of nature was instilled at an early age. Although she grew up in Oakland, her parents had a ranch in Northern California where she learned to hunt, fish, farm and love the environment around her. She participated in Girl Scouts and, when she was older, went backpacking with Outward Bound. Through these experiences she learned to love camping, mountaineering, rock climbing and road bicycling.
Discovering later her love of technology, Mapp quickly began to use the Internet to uncover more ways to connect with people and nature.
“I never will forget when I found the Women Mountain Bike & Tea Society called Wombats—women getting together as women to mountain bike.”
As she graduated from UC Berkeley, all of these pieces began to form a bigger picture for Mapp, and in 2009 she founded Outdoor Afro. Outdoor Afro uses social media and the Internet to reconnect African Americans with nature and with each other through outdoor recreational activities.
According to its website, Outdoor Afro disrupts the false perception that black people do not have a relationship with nature, and works to shift the visual representation of who can connect with the outdoors.
Mapp has said she was inspired in college by “the power of images to tell stories in a way that levels the playing field.” African Americans, she told Backpacker magazine, “need to see that these places belong to us, too.”
Beyond supporting diverse participation in outdoor recreation, Mapp’s work also explicitly advances conservationist goals. A U.S. Census Bureau report from 2008 projected that by 2042, people of color would collectively become the majority in the United States. With this estimate in mind, Mapp has observed, “If we want our parks and wilderness to survive, we need enthusiasts in this population.”
Rue Mapp also serves on National Wildlife Federation’s California Advisory Council, and in September of 2011 she was honored as National Wildlife Federation Action Fund’s Wildlife Champion of the Month. Be sure to check out her full interview with NWF Action Fund.
Join NWF in Celebrating Our Conservation Heroes
We hope you will join us at NWF’s National Conservation Achievement Awards Gala, April 30, to celebrate Rue Mapp’s incredible achievements!