Nationwide, 100 million people, including 28 million kids, don’t live within a 10-minute walk to a park. Let’s Take it Outside, a new podcast series from the Sierra Club explores the nature all around us. From threatened salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest to urban camping in Detroit, we’re talking to the people working to protect nature for future generations and allow more people to experience it today.
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Conservation & Outdoors
Sierra Club’s Conservation & Outdoors campaign is working to save more nature to address the climate and extinction crises, while closing the nature equity gap to ensure all people can benefit from the outdoors. From cities and nearby nature to public lands and wild spaces, our campaign is working to protect the nature we have today so future generations can inherit a thriving planet. On each episode of Let’s Take it Outside, we talk to the diverse people within the Sierra Club and outside of it doing this important work of preserving America the Beautiful and building an outdoors that is truly for all.
Chris Hill is the Chief Conservation Officer at the Sierra Club. From a young age, Chris learned to find joy and healing outside, where she established a lifelong passion for backpacking, climbing, snowboarding, and fly-fishing. “Being outdoors,” she says, “is the closest feeling to home for me.” This love of the outdoors dovetailed with Chris’s professional career in 2011, when she became an organizer with the Sierra Club Maryland chapter. She later moved on to the Sierra Club’s federal office in Washington, D.C., and then to the Our Wild America campaign, overseeing the organization’s legacy conservation work.
Garrett Dempsey is the lead Sierra Club staff with Detroit Outdoors. He was fortunate to develop a lifelong relationship with nature while growing up in San Francisco and organizing with communities in Oakland, California and Detroit, Michigan. These experiences have shaped his work connecting urban youth with the outdoors and nature. Garrett is passionate about equitable access to nature and creating meaningful pathways into conservation and outdoor communities.
Uriel Llanas Vargas
Born and raised in Southwest Detroit, Uriel graduated from Cass Tech and spent the following summer discovering the wonder and adventure that the outdoors had to offer. With a newfound appreciation and respect for the outdoors, he worked with Detroit Outdoors developing his outdoor leadership skills. Uriel now hopes to not just make the outdoors accessible, but also more inclusive to the youth of Detroit and share the beauty and healing nature of the outdoors.
Vedia Barnett is a disabled Air Force veteran, advocate for women veterans, and is a community activist who was inducted into the 2018 Charles County, Maryland, NAACP Hall-of-Fame. She became a community organizer in college and continues to tirelessly advocate for marginalized people’s right to 100% bodily autonomy, environmental justice, nature therapy, and veteran education. She currently is a Senior Campaign Strategist for the Sierra Club's Military Outdoors Campaign where she champions to reduce access barriers that military members and veterans face when attempting to enjoy our state and national parks. She holds a master’s degree from George Washington University in Women, Gender & Sexualities with an emphasis on Black women veterans’ health and mental wellbeing.
Benjamin Todd "Ben" Jealous is the seventh executive director of the Sierra Club. Formerly the National President and CEO of the NAACP, he has led two of the nation’s most influential groups pursuing equity and justice and protecting democracy and the environment. Ben is also a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a New York Times bestselling author of Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding and his latest book is Never Forget Our People Were Always Free. He was the Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. During his term at the NAACP, Jealous created pathbreaking partnerships with conservative leaders and Republican governors to help shrink America’s prison system as well as expand voting rights and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. In 2013, The Washington Post hailed him as “one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders.”
EpisodesWhat's it all about? Listen to our trailer!
The benefits of nature are universal. From improved health to clean air and water to recreation, nature and the outdoors can provide something for everyone. But for too many people, a direct connection with nature as simple as a neighborhood park is just out of reach. And right now, those lands and waters – the very nature we rely on – is threatened by three overlapping crises: the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and the nature equity gap. But across the country, people are working to preserve lands and waters, protect endangered species, and expand access to wild places. On each episode of Let’s Take it Outside, they tell their stories of hope, exploration, and conservation.
Episode One: Scout Hollow
Finding Detroit’s long-abandoned urban camp ground was like following a pirate’s map. What treasures would it have in store? Read the episode one transcript.
Episode Two: Wolves
The last native wolf in Colorado was killed in 1945. 50 years later, the controversial creatures are making a comeback with surprising support – from ranchers. Read the episode two transcript.
Episode Three: Veterans and Disabled Communities in the Outdoors
When Vedia Barnett had a stroke, she fell into depression. A call to a veterans crisis line helped her re-discover life through nature.Read the episode three transcript.
Episode Four: Speedo Diplomacy
Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh advocates for the world’s waterways with audacious swims. Would the UN listen if his most challenging swim yet came to their front door? Read the episode four transcript.
Episode Five: Fish Farm Disaster
When a salmon farm in Washington State accidentally released 150,000 invasive salmon into the ocean, help came from an unexpected place – Tribal Nations. Read the episode five transcript.
Episode Six: The Sacred Place
The Gwich’in people call the Arctic Refuge “the sacred place where life begins.” What happens when a company wants to drill it for oil? Read the episode six transcript.