Field Lessons and Games, Insights and Resources
The In Solidarity Project is centered around “bringing the outdoor industry together to build a more inclusive future.” The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge is a framework designed to help organizations operating within the outdoor industry to critically examine their own roles and influence in the intersection of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the outdoors.
This is our 2021 Annual Report, outlining the work CFI is doing, and still needs to do, to increase opportunities for various communities within the outdoors.
Canyonlands Field Institute (CFI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality outdoor education on the Colorado Plateau. We have operated on the lands and waters surrounding Moab, Utah for 37 years, connecting students of all ages to nature. Many indigenous peoples including the Ute, Navajo, Paiute, Hopi, and other descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans and San Rafael Fremont have deep relationships to this land that stretch back millennia. All members of these groups are survivors of an attempted erasure of their ways of being by European settlers hoping to make this land their own. We acknowledge that as an organization founded and led by non-native people, experiencing the power of this landscape is a privilege that has been afforded to us by the violent history enacted against the tribes of the Colorado Plateau. We hold gratitude for the persistence of these tribes, their thriving cultures, and their continued care for the land. We are especially grateful for the knowledge and expertise contributed to our programs by indigenous staff, guides, and educators.
In December of 2020, CFI signed In Solidarity’s Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge. As an organization, CFI holds diversity and equity as core values, and believes that as with ecosystem health, humans thrive in diverse and vibrant communities. We honor and embrace all the expressions of human diversity.
CFI is working toward creating opportunities for inclusion of BIPOC communities across the scope of our outdoor educational mission. Working toward In Solidarity’s goal of moving the outdoor industry toward authentic inclusion takes time and conscious effort. To borrow language from the UC Berkley Lawrence Hall of Science Working Toward Racial Equity (WTRE) project, “This is urgent work, it is not fast work”. It requires the ability to continuously work on ourselves and the organization and to think critically about how we interact in the environmental education world.
This annual report outlines the efforts made by CFI within 2021 to fulfill our Diversity Pledge as a leader within the Outdoor Education industry to create authentic inclusion within the outdoors. In this report you will find Areas of Focus defined by CFI to categorize our efforts related to DEI. You will find information on internal and external initiatives, key metrics, and other performance indicators. You will also find honest reporting of successes, challenges, and areas of needed support in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read this report. You may direct questions or responses to Jory Macomber, email@example.com.
AREAS OF FOCUS
We are focusing on the following four key areas for improvement.
- Internal Initiatives and Education
The aim of our Internal Education Initiatives is to build capacity and improve awareness of historic and contemporary BIPOC lived experiences so that we are better informed to represent and support our community.
This area of focus includes curriculum and programming designed to create productive, and at times difficult, discussion within the CFI staff community. Additionally, this area of focus aims to provide all employees with the protections and safeguards they need to thrive both in the workplace and out in the world.
- External Initiatives
The aim of our External Initiatives is to create opportunities for BIPOC individuals and groups to participate in the outdoors. At the core of this initiative is the recognition that commercialized outdoor spaces have not traditionally been inclusive for people of color, and these programmatic and external initiatives are focused on reducing some of the barriers to the outdoors faced by BIPOC communities. Additionally, we seek to ensure our employees are encouraged and supported to play an active role in initiatives that champion BIPOC communities.
- Community Partnerships
CFI recognizes the importance of elevating voices of color as leaders within the outdoor industry. The aim of this area of focus is to increase our partnerships with organizations that are specifically providing support for communities that have been historically excluded from outdoor spaces. We aim to actively support BIPOC owned and led organizations and businesses within our community
- Marketing and Communication
The aim of this area of focus is to showcase and celebrate the diversity that exists within the outdoor community so that everyone feels welcome to inspire care of wild places and renew the human spirit. We will track BIPOC representation across our marketing efforts to ensure we are creating a welcoming and inclusive outdoor education environment for our Colorado Plateau community and outdoor community at large.
- INTERNAL INITIATIVES AND EDUCATION
Working Towards Racial Equity (WTRE) Research and Education Project
- CFI was accepted into the first cohort of the National Science Foundation funded UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science, in partnership with Justice Outside, Working Toward Racial Equity (WTRE) Workshop Series. The two-year series of intensive workshops and associated research study on building racial equity in environmental and outdoor science organizations began August 2021. Centering racial equity, the design will build capacity to foster equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant work environments and organizations. The workshop series is organized within two strands within each organization: a distributed leadership team focused on organization change and a team of Professionals of Color (voluntary) focused on career advancement.
- WTRE’s stated goals are to:
- “Develop and continuously improve the capacities of organizations to make systemic improvements for working toward equitable organizations.”
- “Develop a model for organizations to work towards racial equity that can be broadly implemented in the field.”
|Amount of CFI staff and Board in WTRE||5|
|WTRE Teams CFI participates in||Organization Systems Change Team (Executive Director, Education Director, Board Treasurer) Professionals of Color Team (Contracts Officer, Education Program Manager)|
|Paid staff hours in 2021 on WTRE||~300 hours|
BIPOC Crucial Conversations Forum
- This forum gathers our staff together each month to discuss and conduct activities associated with a tool (e.g., we utilized the University of Michigan Social Identity Wheel), podcast, book, film, article or other media regarding racial and equity issues. We discussed and documented the takeaway messages that each individual experienced for the first few months, then discontinued the practice of documentation as typing during discussion and activities was a distraction and agreed by all not value added.
- Each session lasts 60 minutes and takes place during work hours. A Community Agreement was created with input from all staff at the beginning of the 2/25/21 session with the understanding that this is a living document.
- Participation is voluntary for BIPOC staff so that BIPOC members of our organization do not feel pressured to educate non-BIPOC staff.
BIPOC Centered Approach to 2022 field instructor hiring
- Each season, CFI employs Naturalist Educators to conduct our outdoor education programming. This paid position includes housing, access to needed gear, and a month of high-quality guide training before the season starts. No prior whitewater or guiding experience is necessary.
- CFI pursued new avenues of sharing about this job opportunity aimed at reaching potential BIPOC applicants. We diversified our posting across new forums including:
- Latino Outdoors
- Environmental Educators of Color Facebook Page
- Basecamp Outdoors
- Outdoor Afro
|Percentage of BIPOC on CFI 2021 field staff||40%|
|Percentage of BIPOC on CFI leadership staff||14%|
Establish DEI Staff Leaders
- DEI initiatives require a lot of work. CFI has appointed two members of senior staff to roles that provide paid time to continue work on inclusive initiatives
- Education Director as DEI Officer
- Contracts and Reservations Officer as DEI Ambassador
- Our Executive Director, Education Director, and Board of Trustees Treasurer are the distributed leadership team focused on organization change for the WTRE research and education project. Two BIPOC CFI staff members volunteered and are actively participating in the WTRE Professionals of Color Strand.
- CFI operates a 35-acre field camp. In May 2020, we were awarded a grant totaling $84,000 to increase accessibility at this site from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation.
- So far we have:
- Created an accessible parking pad
- Created concrete pads for two tipis, making them wheelchair accessible
- Created a graded wheelchair accessible pathway connecting sleeping units, bathrooms, and our outdoor classroom area
- Installed a ramp to a teaching yurt, and built a wooden deck for additional accessible outdoor space
- We plan on:
- Increasing signage specific to students with different learning and sensory abilities.
- So far we have:
- CFI full-time permanent staff (6 total) participated in a 90-minute National Ability Center led Ability Awareness Training session on April 26, 2021
Form Spanish Conversion Initiative
- The registration form for CFI programs was converted to Spanish in May 2021.
- EXTERNAL INITIATIVES AND PROGRAMS
Native Teen Guide in Training Program
- The Native Teen Guide in Training program is an 8-day, overnight program that takes place on the San Juan River. The program is designed to provide technical training in the guiding field, while giving Indigenous teens a chance to connect to each other and to the natural world.
- The grant and donor subsidized program provides the entire trip for $50 per student
- The program is open to Native teens from any tribe or nation across the United States.
- Since its creation in 2012, the NTGIT has provided professional development within the field of outdoor guiding to over 100 students.
Analysis of NTGIT
- This is a robust program that has a proven history of providing access to the outdoors and career opportunities for Indigenous teens
- We are striving for 100% indigenous education staff
- By 2023, we hope to raise enough money to double the program output
|% Indigenous educators||75%|
Ute Indian Tribe River Program
- 2021 is the first in a three-year partnership with Uintah River High School to provide an immersive outdoor educational river program for Ute Indian students.
- The scope of the program is envisioned as a “rebirth of a healthy stewardship of the River by the Ute Indian Tribe, led by the youth.”
Analysis of Ute Indian Tribe River Program
|Number of Students||19|
|% identifying as Native American and enrolled or descendants of Ute Indian Tribe||90%|
|Cost to student||$0|
|% students who indicated an increased rate of comfortability when communicating to peers after the trip||52%|
|% students who indicated an increased enjoyment of spending time outside after the trip||47%|
- The number of students who joined us for the Fall 2021 program is significantly below the number of students who are eligible to come.
- This is the first of a three-year initiative. In the following years, we will strive to:
- Increase enrollment. Post the success of the initial extracurricular river trip with the Ute students in September and October 2021, the Uintah River High School (URHS) administration moved the trip to mid-week each Spring beginning May 2022 to incorporate it as part of the URHS academic curriculum; thus, all Ute students are eligible to come.
- Increase Social and Emotional Learning outcomes
Summer Camp scholarships
- CFI provides partial and full ride scholarships to summer camp participants who are enrolled in their school’s free and reduced lunch program in line with our equity values.
- In 2021, CFI provided $1,260 in summer program tuition assistance for our Grand County youth.
- Our CFI DEI Ambassador met with Camp Yoshi founders at our Professor Valley Field Camp in May 2021. Camp Yoshi creates space for Black people to unplug and reconnect to the wilderness. In line with CFIs objective to make safe space for BIPOC to get comfortable in and immerse in the outdoors, we are pursuing a partnership to expand their Moab offerings to include environmental education at our Professor Valley Field Camp for Black families.
Utah Black Chamber
- Our CFI DEI Ambassador also hosted the Utah Black Chamber President in May 2021 at Field Camp to brainstorm ways and means for Black youth in the state to experience CFI outdoor science adventure programs.
- COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
- Our DEI Ambassador joined Outdoor Afro in July 2020 and established membership with the Outdoor Afro Utah Group based in Salt Lake City December 2020.
- An Outdoor Afro event in Moab with Black hikers was hoped for Spring 2021 but not feasible due to the continuing impact of the pandemic and overnight camp hesitancy.
- Our DEI Ambassador took one Outdoor Afro member and guest on a hike in February 2021.
Moab Valley Multicultural Center
- Multicultural Mondays is a weekly summer day camp through a partnership with the Moab Valley Multicultural Center (MVMC)
- Over the course of 6 Mondays, we provided day-long programs for 11 Latino participants each Monday in June and July 2021.
- In August 2021, CFI received an unsolicited invitation from Justice Outside to assist with expanding the depth and scope of their work to include Utah. The Justice Outside mission “is to shift resources to build power with, and center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color because the health of current and future generations demands it.” How was CFI selected? “In our initial research of Utah-based, People of Color-led organizations, your team at Canyonlands Field Institute came up as a fantastic connection for us to make to enter Utah with our programming thoughtfully, intentionally, and in the manner that will best support our mission.”
- CFI began collaborating with Justice Outside in September 2021 to be the first member of a focus group with other organizations in Utah led by BIPOC. This provides opportunity for us to build our network, the potential for future funding, and the creation of affinity spaces with other BIPOC-led organizations.
- MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION
BIPOC representation on Instagram
|Instagram posts featuring humans||55|
|Instagram posts featuring BIPOC||20|
|% posts featuring humans that include BIPOC||36%|
Other Media and Videos
- On October 12, 2021, CFI hosted a panel discussion featuring guides and participants of the 2021 Native Teen Guide In Training (NTGIT) program. The event was in partnership with Astral Designs, and can be viewed on Youtube.
- Additionally, a video recap of the NTGIT program was also published by CFI.
- A video recap of the Uintah River High School program was also published by CFI
The videos have been viewed approximately 200 times.
- In May of 2021, our DEI Ambassador was contacted by Dustlight Productions to be interviewed as a BIPOC CFI employee for a new REI Co-op Studios podcast, Hello Nature, which was released in August 2021. The 8-episode podcast series tells the history and stories of 8 National Parks through the lens and voices of BIPOC from Yosemite National Park in California across the country to Acadia National Park in Maine.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2022
While we are proud of what we accomplished in 2021, we are looking forward to the chance to increase our efforts toward inclusion. Here are some specific areas for improvement for CFI, alongside some potential action steps to help reach our goals.
Working Toward Racial Equity Project (WTRE): The CFI Organization Systems Change Team will work with the WTRE faculty and staff every month to implement the equity and inclusion goals that will be established in January 2022.
DEI Crucial Conversation Forums: We want to establish a stronger pattern of having these conversations and giving staff time and space to respond and process these conversations. We will work toward our goal of having one Crucial Conversation per month, including offering paid time to reflect on the conversation, outside of the forum.
BIPOC Centered approach to field hiring: More research needs to be done to establish connections to BIPOC communities to advertise open positions. We hope to create a list of 10 BIPOC centered organizations, magazines, or other media where we can post about our job listings.
Native Teen Guide in Training (NTGIT) Program: We want to double the capacity of the NTGIT program by 2023, running two subsidized iterations of the trip. More research needs to be done to find funding sources dedicated to creating outdoor opportunities for Indigenous youth.
Marketing and Communication: More emphasis on representing BIPOC members of the outdoor community needs to be placed on our outward facing communication. In 2022, we want to raise the percentage of BIPOC on CFI Instagram to 50%.
External Initiative: We are partnering with Diversify Whitewater and Vibe Tribe Adventures to obtain funding for a Youth Guides In Training program. The Youth Guides In Training program will support youth from marginalized and underrepresented populations and households in Loveland, Fort Collins, and Estes Park Colorado for an 8-day, no cost raft guide training program. The students will be recruited among High School seniors from three Northern Colorado school districts in these cities. In addition, juniors and first-year students will fill any unfilled senior training seats.
Thank you for the opportunity and exposure as we continue down the long road toward equity and inclusion for Black, Indigenous and People of Color in the outdoors.
Jory Macomber, Executive Director
Canyonlands Field Institute