WASHINGTON D.C. (June 14, 2017) – This summer, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and Groundwork DC are launching Summit Seekers, an inter-generational outdoor leadership training program designed to foster inclusion and engagement of communities of color with traditional outdoor recreation and promote environmental stewardship. Applications are currently being accepted from DC-area residents ages 16+ to join the inaugural cohort of 25 Summit Seekers Ambassadors.
Thanks to the support of the National Park Foundation, participants will enjoy hiking, camping, boating and other outdoor recreational activities in local national park units; develop outdoor leadership skills; and explore conservation and outdoor career opportunities.
The Summit Seekers program is free to participants and applications will be accepted through June 20, 2017. Each participating Ambassador will receive a stipend of $500 as well as transportation to Summit Seeker events, food, lodging and use of outdoor equipment/gear as needed. In return, Ambassadors are expected to fully participate in all of the following three Summit Seekers events and to provide meaningful feedback to partners about the program and Ambassadors’ experience of the barriers, incentives and opportunities for outdoor recreation:
- Saturday, July 8, 2017: Inaugural Summit at Anacostia Community Museum. Ambassadors will gather with friends and family for a full day of activities that include a tour of the Anacostia Community Museum; an introduction to hiking and camping skills and equipment; a facilitated discussion about barriers to participation in traditional outdoor recreation, environmental justice, and other introductory topics; a ranger talk about National Park Service careers; and presentations about opportunities in conservation nonprofits. Food and fun for all generations!
- Friday, July 21-Sunday, July 23: Appalachian Trail Summit. Weekend activities will include an African American History Tour of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; short backpacking trips and/or day hikes suitable for beginners on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.); an introduction to Leave No Trace ethics; an overnight camping at the Blackburn Trail Center on the A.T. and at the National Conservation Training Center; and a facilitated discussion and reflection activities focused on outdoor leadership and the outdoor experience from a wellness and healing perspective.
- Saturday, September 16: Final Celebration/Wrap-Up at Anacostia Park. The festivities will begin with a boat ride courtesy of Anacostia Riverkeeper, during which Ambassadors will reflect on and evaluate their Summit Seekers experience and discuss commitments for next steps. They will then be joined by family and friends for an outdoor meal together, camping demonstrations, mini-hikes and a shared celebration led by the Summit Seekers leadership cohort.
To apply, visit: https://tinyurl.com/summitseekers.
For more about the partnership, visit: https://summitseekersweb.wordpress.com.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is thrilled to be working with partners that will invite and inspire their friends and communities to build networks of inclusive use and stewardship around our trails and parks,” said Ron Tipton, President & CEO of the ATC.
“This great collaboration of park partners will train a new cohort of park leaders that will help ensure that our national treasures are accessible and relevant to all people and that they thrive for generations to come,” said Chrystal Morris Murphy, senior vice president of community partnerships at the National Park Foundation.
Support from the National Park Foundation is part of a generous planning grant from the Bechtel Foundation.
"We are excited about this opportunity to showcase collaboration in action that draws upon our experience on connecting more diverse communities outdoors and providing more inclusive park experiences," said José Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors. "We're looking forward to sharing our learning and how it can benefit the development of partnerships for more inclusive engagement in our parks."
For more information about Summit Seekers: An Adventure in Leadership For Change, email Julie Judkins at [email protected].
About The National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
About Outdoor Afro
Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature. We help people take better care of themselves, our communities, and our planet! Outdoor Afro is a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With more than 60 leaders in 28 states from around the country, we connect thousands of people to outdoor experiences, who are changing the face of conservation. So come out in nature with us, or be a partner to help us grow our work so that we can help lead the way for inclusion in outdoor recreation, nature, and conservation for all! For more information, please visit www.outdoorafro.com/about/.
About Groundwork DC
Launched in Ward 7 and focused on the communities that border the Anacostia River and its watershed, Groundwork DC uses environmental restoration goals as a vehicle for community development. Our objectives are to increase the capacity of residents and stakeholders to improve, care for, and promote their local environment. We reclaim vacant and derelict lands for conservation, recreation, and economic development, and are passionate about reconnecting residents to their neighborhoods’ environmental assets, including parks, open spaces, and the Anacostia River and its tributaries. Groundwork DC is part of Groundwork USA, a national network of local trusts dedicated to changing places and changing lives. Learn more at www.groundworkdc.org and www.groundworkusa.org.
About Latino Outdoors
With roots in the past, a presence in the present and vision for the future, Latino Outdoors is a network of leaders committed to engaging Latinos/as in the outdoors, connecting familias and youth with nature, and empowering our community of storytellers to explore and share their personal experiences. Our growing online platform allows participants to creatively document their cultural connections to conservation, the environment, and the Great American Outdoors with the world. For more information, please visit http://latinooutdoors.org/.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s largest and most effective youth conservation service organization. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and 70% of its 85,000 alumni are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more, visit www.thesca.org.
Media Contact: Javier Folgar
Director of Marketing and Communications
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Email: [email protected]
Media Contact: Alanna Sobel
National Park Foundation
Email: [email protected]