The Lotus Flower Podcast with your host Dr. Pamela Robinson
My featured guest today is Jessica Fitzgerald, CLU®, ChFC®, FLMI
Research shows that people of color are far less likely to engage in nature-based outdoor recreation activities, with historic discrimination being a large underlying factor.
At NC State’s College of Natural Resources, researchers passionately believe that the outdoors can become more inclusive once the narrative changes, from emphasizing achievements of people of color in outdoor recreation to having more diverse leadership in outdoor recreation agencies, organizations, and advisory boards. The history of public park systems and current-day prejudices against people of color are two areas that reinforce each other and prevent higher participation from people of color, according to KangJae “Jerry” Lee. Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, has authored numerous studies about racial discrimination in park participation, outdoor leisure, and sports.
Participation and attendance at state and national parks, as well as forest areas, tend to be disproportionate between white people and people of color. The reasons behind this go beyond the fact that people of color are three times more likely than white people to live in places that have no immediate access to nature.
Jessica has spent a copious amount of time frequenting national parks, camp groups and forest areas. While frequenting these places, she realized that there truly was unbalanced participation and attendance at many of the parks and recreational areas between white people and people of color. Jessica was burdened in her spirit by what she perceived to be an unfair problem. She could not find rest in her spirit until she found a solution; no matter if the solution only would benefit her small sphere of the world, i.e., West Michigan. Therefore, because of her selfless-dedicated personality and a desire to share her love for nature with urban youth, Jessica started Active Outdoor Connections Program, a culturally relevant, year-round nature-based program for urban and underserved populations.
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