Introducing the Outdoor Afro Leadership Fellows of 2014!

What might a Los Angeles women’s health practitioner, a DC public policy director, and a Seattle real estate appraiser have in common?

They are a part of the Outdoor Afro Leadership Fellows Team who are on a mission to reconnect African Americans in their community back to nature! A total of 15 individuals were hand-picked out of a competitive pool of applicants from around the United States to join the team. This 2014 class represents a variety of professional backgrounds, outdoor expertise, and key urban centers around the country.

Stefan Moss OA Headshot

Continuing the success of the previous two years of leadership development, each leader is tasked to help expand the national Outdoor Afro social and nature network by leading trips, sharing experiences via social media, and forging partnerships with relevant outdoor organizations and groups.

Think: nature ambassadors

Next month, the new and returning leaders are gathering in person to kick off a year of innovative partnership and training on the coast of Northern California. Leaders will receive a crash course in trip planning, conservation ethics, risk management, social media, and policy supported by leaders from non-profits, leading outdoor industry brands, such as REI, KEEN Footwear, Klean Kanteen, Sierra Club, and National Wildlife Federation – California, and more. OA
As you know, Outdoor Afro began as a social media site in 2009 to celebrate and inspire African American connections to nature. Now more than ever all people of all ages need a stronger connection to nature for both our health and to support a sustainable environment. The strength of the team lies in their ability to help families feel welcome and supported in active nature activities close to home. We are so proud of this team!

The 2014 Leaders:
Autumn Saxton-Ross, Washington DC – Program Director for the Joint Center’s Health Policy Institute and green space advocate
Beky Branagan, Cary, NC – Girl Scout leader and environmental educator
Clay Anderson, Bay Area, CA – Naturalist, ecologist, and artist
Clifton Sorrell, Richmond, CA – Father of five; landscape architect and Boy Scout Leader
Deidre Bryant, Richmond, VA – Community health professional and mom
Josh Garubanda, St. Paul, MN – Outdoor educator, kayak instructor and avid biker
Mashawn Butler, Austin, TX – Graduate student and Team Lead for Texas Parks and Wildlife
Matthew Reese, Seattle, WA – Real estate appraiser, husband, dad, and snowboarder
Nicole Jackson, Columbus, OH – Nature educator, animal lover, and former rock climbing instructor
Nkem Ndefo, Los Angeles, CA – Women’s health professional and Tension Release Exercise coach
Stefan Moss, Atlanta, GA Professor of Environmental Science; researches ecotoxicology and environmental education
SteVon Edwards, Louisville, KY – Community health specialist
Teresa Baker, Bay Area, CA – Housing coordinator and National Park champion
Vi Yeboah, Chicago, IL – Accountant, auditor, beach lover, and conservationist
Zoe Polk, San Francisco, CA – Outdoor enthusiast and human rights attorney
We would like to thank our sponsors, staff, and volunteers for their generous time, creativity, and resources to make this work come to life! REI, KEEN Footwear, Clif Bar, The Sierra Club, Swarovski Optik, Klean Kanteen, The National Parks, National Wildlife Federation – California, and the Kapor Center for Social ImpactTHANK YOU!
Check out what leaders are already doing in the Bay Area!
Do check our Twitter page and Facebook in the coming weeks for dispatches on our training weekend #OALT

REI and Outdoor Afro: Continued Partnership in 2014!


We are so grateful to announce a new year of partnership between REI and Outdoor Afro to help inform and strengthen our work to get more people outside! Significantly, REI and its staff will provide direct support for our Outdoor Afro staff and Leadership Team through training, gear, access to local store meeting spaces for special events – and more!
OAtrainingAs the official outdoor retailer of Outdoor Afro, you can count on the REI co-op for superior outdoor products, staff expertise, and fun outdoor events that will help strengthen your connection to nature.
Many Outdoor Afros already know that REI lifetime membership has several benefits, including annual dividends paid directly to you based on your purchases, and a very flexible exchange/return policy.
We are especially enthusiastic about this partnership because of REI’s internal, and genuine commitment to relevant and accessible outdoor engagement for everyone — and we consider headquarter staff members as trusted friends and advisers.

This year, you can look forward to more visible collaboration between REI and Outdoor Afro to promote events that suit a wide-range of outdoor interests, and gear that helps you stay comfortable while looking fly!
Please join us in celebrating this partnership by becoming an REI member today, and getting out in nature wherever you are!

Rue Mapp and Barb Williams

We want to acknowledge Laura Swapp, Myrian Solis Coronel from headquarters, along with Amber Miksza and Brad Bostrom from the REI Berkeley store, who altogether helped to vision and pioneer such an awesome partnership! – Thank you!
We are looking forward to a terrific year ahead together helping more people connect with nature!
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10,000 Steps to Denali, Temescal Hike, and National Outdoors Day!

It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Los Angeles Leader. This Saturday June 8th we had a Temescal Canyon Hike planned in the Santa Monica Mountains to support the first African American group to hike Denali. So our hike was in support of the 10,000 steps to Denali trek. Our hike also coincided with National Outdoors Day.
We started our day at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook where there were activities planned for the kids. They had camping gear set up to show how to set up a camp.
Along with camping gear lessons they also allowed children (and big kids like myself) to create buttons and bookmarks to show their support of 10,000 steps to Denali.
From BHSO, we met up with another group of teens from Watts and Compton inner city program who have had little exposure to the outdoors. We were paired with them through the Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory to encourage them to get outdoors more. Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory provided a bus and an amazing guide Anthony to take us on our hike and explore the canyon.
We got to Temescal and had a quick snack on the lawn, took a photo with both groups and paired off into two different groups to meet at the waterfall. There were so many of us we didn’t want to overwhelm the trail.
On our way up we saw caterpillars, lizards, a garden snake and a red-tailed hawk. In true LA fashion we also saw a film crew filming a movie, haha. When we reached the top we sat for a bit and let the kids play around the waterfall which was dry. Anthony explained we’re in a dry season. We had to watch out for poison oak. Quick tip: if its three let it be. If you see leaves in clusters of three leave them alone.
Many thanks to Kleen Kanteen and REI for keeping us hydrated. Thank you REI for keeping me warm and to Keen shoes for making my hike comfy. I also want to acknowledge Clif Bars for snack bars for the kiddos. We had an amazing time. Looking forward to many more collaborations with Santa Monica Conservatory, your rangers are amazing and knowledgeable. Thank you Anthony and Iann the volunteer.
Oh yes on our way down the canyon we came to a beautiful open field and my sister and the kids decided to jump and play.