SOUL TRAK OUTDOORS
Not long after the civil unrest began in our Twin Cities community, a group of our fellow park enthusiasts and advocates joined together to brainstorm how we might create a more equitable experience in our national parks. As part of our ongoing commitment to ending systemic racism in our country, we’re joining with others in supporting and lifting up organizations dedicated to bridging the race gap in outdoor spaces. Check out today’s post describing a new DiverseNPS initiative and our September featured organization, D.C. based – Soul Trak Outdoors.
Committed To A More Diverse NPS
As outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of America’s parks, we’ve experienced the benefits of connecting with nature and our diverse landscapes. From city parks where we can get a taste of green amid cemented city blocks, to recharging strolls and hikes in the millions of acres of our state parks, to treks and climbs in the breathtaking landscapes in our national parks, the chance to be in nature is an experience we hold invaluable.
Undoubtedly, our lands should be enjoyed by all of us, but when we look into who is getting access to our lands, we see alarmingly disproportionate statistics that highlight a gap between race and park visitations. When we examine the reasons why these gaps are present—access, education, resources, discrimination and prejudice—we understand that systemic racism in our country is the major contributor to these disappointing disproportions.
In the National Park System, for example, Black Americans make up about 7 percent of visitors, while they are 13 percent of the U.S. population. Moreover, 78 percent of visitors are White. The end of the Jim Crow era in 1968, showcases that Black American generations have only recently gained the freedom and liberty to move around this country. Still today, minorities face prejudice and discrimination within our outdoor spaces and, often, cannot safely and comfortably enjoy outdoor recreation.
As park enthusiasts and advocates of spending time in nature, we are committed to addressing racism within our industry.
To do so, we are taking action to use our platforms to contribute to the progress that is much needed within the outdoor space and community.
As a part of this community, Park Chasers will join with others in highlighting organizations that are dedicated to bridging the race gap in the outdoor space by connecting opportunities and experiences to people of color. Each month, we are featuring and focusing on one organization, with the intent to showcase their hard work, raise awareness and support them through funding and donations. We’ll share monthly articles and social media posts along with links for how you can donate.
This Month's Organization: Soul Trak Outdoors
During the month of September we’ll be sharing the work of outdoor organization, Soul Trak Outdoors in our community effort to showcase organizations who are working to bridge the gap between minorities and outdoor spaces.
Soul Trak is a D.C. based non-profit with the mission of connecting people of color to the outdoors. Programs are designed for all ages and experience levels with the goal of connecting communities of color to outdoor spaces while building a coalition of diverse outdoor leaders.
Although the organization engages youth, college students, and adults in the outdoors, one of Soul Trak’s programs we love the most is the Student Ambassador Program. The program is a year-long environmental stewardship cohort made up of 15 students at Howard University. Ambassadors gain certifications and knowledge in environmental stewardship initiatives, community organizing, wilderness first-aid, community organizing, and outdoor technical skills. Ambassadors also actively engage their peers in stewardship and adventure initiatives.
Committed to Organizations like Soul Trak
Going forward, expect to find more information here about organizations like Soul Trak. To see a full overview of organizations we have supported, follow the link below. In this document, you can find information about what organizations like Soul Trak are doing and how you can donate to them directly.
Have An Organization We Can Highlight?
We have also created a submission form if you know of an organization who’s doing the work to make the outdoors more diverse and inclusive. If you want to see them supported, please submit via the form below: