Justice Outside Celebrates 2023 OEI Bay Area and Central Valley Graduation

“The experience has been very emotional for me in many ways. Through these outings, we have had the safe space to be vulnerable and learn about one another. Many of us come from similar backgrounds facing similar struggles. Being able to be surrounded by other people who look like me and are passionate about the outdoors was everything for me.”

— Adriana Fernandez Arriaga, 2023 OEI Participant
Members of the 2023 Bay Area cohort

On May 31, 2023, Justice Outside celebrated the graduation of 25 participants of the 2023 Outdoor Educators Institute Bay Area and Central Valley cohorts. The Outdoor Educators Institute, one of our flagship yearly programs, develops the next generation of culturally relevant outdoor leaders by building competencies and leadership skills in young adults who have encountered hurdles or lacked the resources to work in the outdoors. 

The Outdoor Educators Institute is, at its core, advocacy for the inclusion and centering of underrepresented populations, especially those that have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors. It is an immersive training program through once-a-week evening meetings and weekends over a three-month period. OEI cohorts meet with partner organizations for weekend programming, and have the support of program staff who have all been through the OEI program themselves. 

The Bay Area and Central Valley cohorts worked with 16 partner organizations: Taylored Fit Solutions, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Ready SF, Bay Area Wilderness Training, Environmental Traveling Companions, Saved By NaturePUENTES, Grassroots Ecology, Hidden Villa, California Field School, Fresno Metro Ministry, Yosemite Conservancy, Latino Outdoors, Fresno Community Gardens, Green Latinos, and Sequoia Riverlands Trust

“If there’s one thing I learned from the programming, it’s that it’s never too late. We all deserve access to the outdoors. We all deserve to not only envision ourselves in these spaces, but also actively do what our hearts are calling us to do.”

— Arely Lopez, 2023 OEI Participant
Members of the 2023 Central Valley cohort

We are so grateful to their work in expanding community access to the outdoors and joyfully working with our participants to equip them with outdoor skills, outdoor safety knowledge, and opportunities to connect with other professionals working in the outdoors and environmental industry. By working together, our movement becomes stronger.

Our Central Valley Program Coordinator, Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez, shared in the graduation:  “During my time at OEI as program coordinator, I relearned the love that comes from intentional circles of individuals who seek something to believe greater than themselves in our current society like nature.

These 25 participants join an expanding network of Justice Outside alumnx, who are also eligible to apply for the OEI: Pathfinders program. Justice Outside also looks forward to kicking off our 2023 OEI-Seattle cohort this fall. Subscribe to our newsletter here to receive all updates on the Outdoor Educators Institute. Click here to donate and support Justice Outside programs including OEI.