Her mission: “Engaging communities in stewardship of our natural lands, by promoting diversity and inclusion in outdoor organizations and outdoor spaces.”
After a 2013 week long trip in beautiful Yosemite National Park, Teresa Baker was shocked at the absence of people of color in the outdoors. “I saw no one that looked like me!” She reached out to the National Parks to start a dialogue and discovered they were aware of the issue and are working on finding a remedy. Teresa jumped in and her quest to increase diversity in the outdoors began!
She started posting about an African American National Parks event she decided to hold. Teresa shared the event on Facebook and the community caught on - over 500 people around the country showed up!! She does all of her event campaigns for free on social media and has had success even without paying for advertising. Now in its 5th year the African American National Parks event has grown so much that Teresa can’t keep count of the thousands of people celebrating together. State parks are now reaching out to her asking her to hold events at their locations.
Teresa wanted to expand the reach of her campaign to increase diversity in the outdoors and has started reaching out to corporations to join her. Marmot is the first brand that has signed on to her diversity pledge. 15 other brands have joined in signing the pledge. Signing the diversity pledge means the company is committing to including people of color in their marketing campaigns to expand their demographics to include communities of color. Hiring people of color into leadership positions, not just lower paying positions. This is a $500,000,000 business! Even though she has encountered push back and being told she should keep this mission local and shouldn’t make it about race, she has persevered in targeting large companies to form partnerships. Patagonia is one of her most recent partners.
Hike like a Girl is another initiative started by Teresa to encourage females of all ages to get outside and into nature. “I started sharing my solo hikes on facebook and so many people reached out for advice on good, safe places for a woman to hike, so I started Hike Like a Girl” . The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) recently gave Teresa an award for Hike Like a Girl in Denver. People are starting to recognize her work around diversity & inclusion and she has been invited as a 2019 Keynote speaker at the Ashville Outdoor Show in North Carolina!
How can YOU get involved?
- Teresa encourages our young people to get out in natural spaces to see the environment we are encouraging them to protect.
- Reach out to the brands and ask for their ads to represent the community we are from.
- Call your state representatives and tell them you care about diverse representation in outdoor spaces
Events our Sol Sisters would be interested in attending!
- Women’s Outdoor Summit for Empowerment 2019
- 50 & over hike on October 6th
You can find out more about Teresa and upcoming outdoor events on IG @teresabaker11 and on Facebook on her African American Nature & Parks Experience Page
Written by: Chayla Gibson (Sol Sister)