Dedicated to elevating the voices of people of color in the outdoor industry, this page is meant to help people understand the barriers to participation in outdoor recreation and promote organizations that are working for greater inclusion.
Understanding Barriers to Participation
Many outdoor enthusiasts genuinely believe that access to public lands is just and equitable. There is no screening process, no hurdles to jump through, and often no fee to participate. Just show up and hike. How could it be any more open and inclusive?
The truth is that economic, social, and cultural barriers provide very real obstacles to outdoor engagement for many people of color. Distance to outdoor recreational opportunities, lack of public transit options, and stereotypes about who “belongs” in the outdoors are all obstacles as real as concrete walls for many people. If you have any doubt about the reality of these obstacles, take some time to explore the well-researched resources below:
Organizations Breaking Down Barriers
There are many ways to connect with nature, from trail building to outdoor education to grassroots agriculture initiatives. All of these different ways of connecting with nature ensure that, as a society, we are building a robust coalition of outdoor enthusiasts who can speak to the value of nature on many fronts.
The organizations listed below are leaders in making sure that the joys of nature belong to everyone. Most of them are led by people of color. Some are local to the New York and New Jersey area, while some operate nation-wide. We encourage you to explore their missions, participate in their programs, and support their continuing operation.
Positive experiences in the outdoors, at any stage of life, are critical in shaping a love of the outdoors. These organizations focus on outdoor excursions, hikes, and volunteer activities along the trails we all share.
For many of us, a love of the outdoors came from early-life experiences. These outdoor education programs specifically endeavor to extend those experiences to children who otherwise would not have access to them.
Grassroots agriculture initiatives address community needs while creating an intimate bond with the earth and soil. For many people, taking part in a community gardening project is the first step on a larger journey in outdoor stewardship.
As more multilingual visitors enjoy our parks, the number of resources to support them has grown. Some of the best Spanish-language guides and tools are listed below.
Are We Missing Something?
If you are familiar with a well-established and recognized nonprofit organization doing work on outdoor diversity, equity, and inclusion in the greater New York metropolitan area, please let us know. We hope that this page continues to grow as a resource for our trail family in the years to come.