“The Fresno cohort taught me that there’s a difference about being attentive in nature and actually connecting with it. Creating a spiritual relationship with nature isn’t always valued in society, but it’s something I’ve been trying to strive towards. I haven’t laughed as much as I did with the OEI Fresno cohort as I had in a couple of months and it just shows you that nature is very healing.”—Justice Outside Fresno Program Coordinator, Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez
On December 3, 2022, Justice Outside and our community celebrated the graduation of our 2022 Outdoor Educators Institute cohorts from Fresno, North Bay, and South Bay. This year was our biggest graduation yet with 28 participants.
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. 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 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.
Justice Outside’s triple cohorts have had great success in creating impactful relationships with outdoor education organizations, with over 27 organizations collaborating with us this season:. Taylored Fit Solutions, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Brown Girl Surf, Alemany Farm, SF Bicycle Coalition, Crissy Field Center, Sienna Ranch, Ready SF, Golden Gate National Park Conservancy, Bay Area Wilderness Training, Environmental Traveling Companions, Saved By Nature, Black Surf Club, Puentes, Grassroots Ecology, Pie Ranch, Hidden Villa, California Field School,Environmental Volunteers, Tuolumne River Trust, Audubon California, Fresno Metro Ministry, Yosemite Conservancy, Outward Bound California, Cal State Parks – Office of Community Development, and Leave No Trace. We are extremely grateful for the collaboration and intentionality experienced with all these wonderful people and organizations.
Our Fresno Program Coordinator, Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez, shared in the graduation: “The Fresno cohort taught me that there’s a difference about being attentive in nature and actually connecting with it. Creating a spiritual relationship with nature isn’t always valued in society, but it’s something I’ve been trying to strive towards. I haven’t laughed as much as I did with the OEI Fresno cohort as I had in a couple of months and it just shows you that nature is very healing.”
An OEI Participant shared during the graduation: “It was such a beautiful time to spend with everyone and feel like kids again, forget about everything, and have so much fun. I’m always going to hold that really close to my heart and try to take that with me whenever I go outside.”
Congratulations to all of our 2022 OEI participants! You can learn about them here.