In our latest partner project, we’re blazing trails and building community in the outdoors with Women’s Wilderness, whose mission is to cultivate courage, confidence, connection and environmental stewardship among girls, women and the LGBTQ2+ community through year-round outdoor immersions across the West.
Women's Wilderness, with support from MiiR and Topo Designs, is working to close the gap of underrepresentation of women and non-binary Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) who participate in outdoor activities and work in the outdoor sector (outdoor education, retail, parks and forest service, etc). Women’s Wilderness’s Trailblazers program is a first step in this pursuit, defined as a three month outdoor immersion program focused on developing leadership, community connection skills, and personal and cultural resilience. Sessions cover topics ranging from trip planning and risk management to first aid and navigation, with an emphasis on outdoor leadership skills. Trailblazers culminates in a weekend backpacking trip in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Individuals emerge from Trailblazers ready to lead friends and family in the outdoors, organize community groups, work as professional outdoor educators and serve as pivotal change agents, ushering in and mentoring a new generation of diverse outdoor enthusiasts and stewards to our earth.
Women’s Wilderness aims to be a welcoming, safe place for people of all backgrounds and identities to explore the gifts of the wilderness. Founded in 1998, its programs are designed to be heart-centered, relational, collaborative adventures, while providing solid instruction in wilderness living, outdoor skills and backcountry safety.
All Women’s Wilderness programs share three important elements:
- Instructors are skilled outdoor educators AND role models for participants
- Technical outdoor skills and time in the wilderness are emphasized as a route toward greater self-confidence, self-efficacy and empowerment
- Courses occur in an atmosphere that cultivates respect, inclusivity and collaboration
The sustainability of our public lands and the health of our planet will depend upon Black, Indigenous and people of color being invested as stakeholders and as environmental stewards. Additionally, the empowerment of girls, women and non-binary individuals plays a critical role in the long term health of our society. After all, by 2050, the majority of people in the United States will be people of color. Barriers to participation in the outdoors threatens both the long term sustainability of the outdoor industry and the planet as a whole.
Girls, women and non-binary individuals deserve role models who look like them — in terms of gender expression, ethnicity, shared narrative, and history. Communities also deserve women and non-binary leaders who are fully empowered change agents. Trailblazers not only reshapes the outdoor narrative, but works toward building a more equitable, resilient society.
*MiiR’s unrestricted grant of $10,000 will support Women’s Wilderness as they pursue their mission and operate their camps and programs, including Trailblazers. MiiR is proud to partner with an organization so wholly committed to ensuring diversity and inclusion in the outdoors.