By Los Angeles Outdoor Afro Leader, Alisha Pye
Watching the full moon rise into the sky is a beautiful sight. Hiking in nature while watching the full moon rise and the sun set is exceptional. It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Leader of Los Angeles. I was invited by the Santa Monica Mountains Park Rangers to attend the full moon hike.
We went to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook for a guided Full Moon Hike. We were lucky that the moon rose at 7:43pm and the sun was setting at 7:54pm. So as the sun set we were able to enjoy the full moon at its brightest. We almost didn’t need flashlights it was so bright.
We were able to go into the theater prior to the hike to learn a few facts and about indigenous plants, animals. The guides were very informative even teaching us how to identify animals through their eye shine color. The kids in the group were fascinated.
It did get chilly, so of course layers were necessary. We decided to snuggle to keep warm. We hiked a little over a mile and then decided to take the stairs back up to the top. We had a blast.
We’re going to try to go back every full moon for the summer. Just look at the view from the top, overlooking the city at nightfall. Spectacular views…
Just got back from a terrific stay in Maryland, specifically in the DelMarVa region, presenting at the second annual, Get Out! Get Green! Get Paid! Conference to encourage local youth to consider careers related to the Great Outdoors!
I had the good fortune to work with the dedicated Carrie Samis, who directs the program, and my esteemed co-panelists, Dr. Bert Davis, President, Zoological Society of Milwaukee; Frederick Tutman, Patuxent Riverkeeper; Academy Award winning filmmaker Errol Webber; and Brittany Smith of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Outdoor Afro is proud to partner with the amazing Coastal Steward youth to foster their outdoor leadership, so look out for forthcoming information that shares more of what we plan to accomplish together!
Thanks to everyone, especially the National Parks Service, Maryland Coastal Bays, and EPA for producing such an important event!
For now, here are just a few images that convey the spirit of camaraderie, dedication, and excitement about youth and their families connecting meaningfully to nature:
Near where I live is a nook of the San Francisco Bay called Albany Bulb. The area is well known to dog owners who are able to let dogs run free and splash in the low waves in a part of the shore facing west toward San Francisco and Marin County.
The Bulb is also a nice place to catch a sunset, see a variety of shore birds, view the Golden Gate Bridge, or spot some innovative installations of outdoor art along its sandy trail edges.
Last Saturday, my two youngest kids and I came out to the area for the Coastal Cleanup effort happening all over the country, and in many other Bay Area locations, to pick up trash and debris along the shore. Among several volunteers, schools and organizations, we came across pounds of cigarette butts, plastic bags, Styrofoam, bottles, cans, and many other non-native objects over the two hours we were there.
While a lot of the debris we saw appeared to be deposited at the beach, a significant amount likely traveled from our streets as tossed trash that finds its way into gutters and drains. And it was nice to teach my kids in a concrete way where trash carelessly discarded can end up, and the impact it has on our shores and the wildlife who live there.
Learn more about this event and results of the effort by clicking HERE
Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors
The second day of the conference swelled with more people and energy. The morning speakers each powerfully conveyed forward looking messages of sustainability for organizations, family heritage, and the environment, through narratives about personal and generational ties to the land. Some highlights include:
Ranger Jerry Bransford, a 60-year-old guide at Mammoth Caves, discussed his family legacy at the site, which is now a National Park. His family members have been tour guides since before the Civil War. He is the great-great-grandson of Mat Bransford, the original Mammoth Cave guide and slave.
Bill Gwaltney, a D.C. native who now works for the National Park Service, spoke eloquently in vintage Calvary uniform of his awakening and awareness of African American soldiers and pioneers of the West, as told to him by his grandfather when he was a child. He said that those conversations with his grandfather ignited a desire to learn and share with others the African American Civil War heritage.
Robert George Stanton was the first African American to serve as director of the National Park Service. His accomplishment and endurance to break through a past of Jim Crow to a cabinet position was an inspiration for us all.
At the break, Dudley Edmondson and I caught up with Dr. Carolyn Finney of UC Berkeley:
Sailor-author-adventurer Bill Pinkney, the first Black man to sail solo around the world via Cape Horn, was a delightful lunchtime speaker who conveyed both humor and wisdom as he shared what he learned about life on the high seas.
I also had a chance to chat with Atlanta’s own Angelou Enzielo about her program, Greening Youth Foundation.
Dr. J. Drew Lanham, a professor at Clemson University and his Grad Student Marla Hamilton, chimed in during the afternoon break, representing a new generation of outdoor pioneers and educators.
Later in the day, I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion on Adventuring, and its benefits through outdoor programs. Attendees representing various groups and agencies took the opportunity to candidly discuss outdoor diversity in a forum of peers, and related some of their organizational and regional challenges around reaching out to broader communities. One of the speakers, a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Base Manager Phil Henderson, told how he experienced outdoor adventuring for the first time later in life, and believes the outdoors is great for young adults also, who might discover new outlets to make a difference for themselves and their communities.
If there was one message that rang out from virtually every talk I heard, it was the need for youth to plug in for both their sustainability and as torch bearers for the future. The conference itself underscored the value of youth by including children, such as the Girl Scouts and several young adults from the local colleges as presenters and conference workers. But it was Juan Martinez, a young Latino male and newly appointed coordinator for the Natural Leaders initiative of the Children & Nature Network who brought it home in his talk how easy it is to make a difference in the life of a youth. He described his own life-changing youth trip outside his native Los Angeles city lights that allowed him to actually see stars in the night sky for the first time — stars that pointed Juan to his future of advocacy for diverse youth participation the outdoors.
Video shot by Dudley Edmondson