Having the opportunity to speak to a group of directors within the Department of Fish and Wildlife at the Wild Life Refugee was an awesome experience and to have the opportunity to share some thoughts I have about our younger generations especial our inner city youth.
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen”
Rooting young souls into the outdoors has been a hot topic of conversation over the past few years. Some people want it to happen…Most people have identified this as a need but have failed to address why this is so important and how it can best be done. It has been widely accepted that finding common ground in the outdoors can strengthen groups and communities but connecting this need and the actions required for it to happen is stagnant. Some wish it would happen…While there has been much discussion in forums and workshops, little action has been taken. This is why the outdoors needs Champions.
Champions are people who make it happen. Champions don’t conform to traditional structures, they are untamed with the focus and drive necessary to inspire and they have the heart and commitment to take on the responsibility to lead. Champions take a stand with little concern for other’s judgement or personal failures. They have the spirit to take charge and shape minds with their actions.
Soul River is committed to the concept of Champions – the outdoor warriors who lead by example, take stewardship of their community and the environment, and inspire young souls to explore the outdoors.
If you’re wondering why I used a quote from Michael Jordan, it is because youth today identify success with the Michael Jordans, the LeBron Jameses, the Dr. Dres, and the Kanye Wests –media superstars, those who have surpassed their profession to become household names, cultural icons. So how do we transfer the same desire, energy, interest, and passion young people cultivate for media sensations to the outdoors? We create champions of conservation. We must glorify these outdoor champaions with the same intensity as we glorify these media superstars. We do that by finding and connecting with community leaders who are the ones making it happen right now. We glorify conservation superstars, the new champions.
Who are the champions that you know in your community?
How do we actively engage youth to pursue careers in conservation? We have to expose them to the accessible resources (i.e., your local Wildlife Refuge, professionals who represent conservation and outdoor advocacy, etc.)
How does the champion find the teachable moment with youth? As we do outings, the number one question should be ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ When the youth says, ‘I want to be a doctor’, we as adults and outdoor industry leaders, our response should be an opportunity to redirect that into something associated with conservation and the outdoors – ‘Do you want to be a veterinarian? A marine biologist? A Wilderness Medical Technician?’ That provides the child with more information that forces them to think about the profession in the outdoors. (This becomes the leader’s “teachable moment”.)
Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. This is one opportunity and small step to discover who your local champions of conservation are who can help root young souls into the outdoors.