For clear reasons, we have invested in the development of systematic approaches to risk management in outdoor programming. The physical wellbeing of participants, along with the recognition of inherent risks and hazards of the outdoors, is important––it goes along with the touted benefits of transformative outdoor experiences. We want participants to connect with the awe of nature, the development of leadership skills, and a myriad of other opportunities that come with guided, facilitated, and structured outdoor programming. It is imperative, for individual and institution success, that we continue to do better, to strive for, and maintain and reach aspirational goals in this area.
Along with this is the recognition of accepting a charge and responsibility to continue to ensure that these experiences are equitably accessible to an ever-changing demographic. Our work should not be for a diminishing few based on historical and institutional exclusion, dependent on what zip code you’re born in, or other markers of generational, institutional, and racial privilege. To make this happen, we also must account for risk management not just between the individual and the physical environment, but also the social and cultural environment and the socio-emotional wellness of participants who come to these spaces with different lived experiences, expectations, and value-add to what we offer. This is the opportunity before us, and one I believe we are well-poised to succeed in.
José G. González is the founder and director emeritus of Latino Outdoors. He is an experienced educator as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. As a partner in the Avarna Group and through his own consulting, his work focuses on Equity & Inclusion frameworks and practices in the environmental, outdoor, and conservation fields. He is also an illustrator and science communicator.
His commentary on diversity and environmental/outdoor equity has been featured by High Country News, Outside Magazine, Earth Island Journal, and Latino USA, among others. He engaged in collaborations with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Interior, and the National Park Service during the Obama Administration. He also represented Latino Outdoors in several coalitions including the Latino Conservation Alliance, the Next 100 Coalition, and California Parks Now. He has been recognized with several honors, including the National Wildlife Federation Environmental Educator Award, Grist Magazine “Grist 50”, and The Murie Center Spirit of the Muries, among others. You may have also seen him in various outdoor spaces or read his poetic musings.
He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching coursework was the Bilingual, Multicultural, Education Department at Sacramento State. You can connect with him on social media @JoseBilingue.
He serves as a Trustee for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a Trustee for the National Recreation Foundation, on the Boards of Resource Media and Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, as a Councilor for Save the Redwoods League, and as an advisor to Blue Sky Funders Forum, among other such leadership volunteer roles.