People of color account for nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 20 percent of the annual visitors to national parks. Similarly, people of color are largely underrepresented in natural resource degree programs and environmental and natural resource-based careers, comprising only 12.4% of environmental nonprofits, 15.5% of environmental government agencies and 12% of environmental foundations. In North Carolina, the numbers are even more stark, with people of color accounting for only 10% of the NC State Park system and 5% of NC Forest Service staff. 

Our Growing an Outdoor Generation initiative is working to address these inequities by engaging underrepresented youth, primarily youth of color and youth in rural areas, and giving them opportunities to experience the outdoors and connect with natural resource-based careers.

Our Role

With $10,000 in funding from Patagonia, Resourceful Communities will foster partnerships with youth-focused grassroots organizations and more than 60 low-income youth of color and rural youth to:

  • Engage in nature through a series of 6-8 environmental/ outdoor education field trips across NC, where youth will explore and become familiarized with outdoor opportunities and skills.
  • Deepen science exploration by completing a series of STEM-based curriculum programs at each visit, including biology, aquatics, natural history and more.
  • Explore professional development opportunities in natural sciences, including connecting with environmental professionals of color and engaging with targeted youth environmental programs and affinity groups to begin sustained engagement early. This multi-pronged approach, combined with community support in partnership with youth-serving organizations, will help address significant inequities in use and awareness of natural public spaces and natural resource careers.


Why This Project Matters

We’ve seen the need and important impact this can have for vulnerable communities across North Carolina. Our initiative is not only helping to diversify the next generation of environmental stewards, but also improving economic opportunities and positively impacting health outcomes and social equity.