Fostering connections between youth, community, and nature through leadership training, gear libraries, and access to campgrounds in Detroit.
Meet Our Staff
Garrett Dempsey is the lead Sierra Club staff with Detroit Outdoors. His experiences growing up in San Francisco and organizing with communities in Oakland, California have shaped his passion for connecting urban youth with the outdoors and nature. Garrett is passionate about equitable access to nature and expanding the definition of what makes people conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts. Garrett is also the volunteer chair of the Sierra Club Detroit Inspiring Connections Outdoors program and he serves on the Executive Committee for the Sierra Club South East Michigan Group.
Jac grew up surrounded by nature in upstate New York where she found her passion for outdoor spaces. She has lived in Detroit for a few years now and calls it home; inspired by Michigan’s natural spaces and Detroit’s kind people, she pursued a career in which she connects Detroit’s youth to our natural environment. She has worked for many non-profit organizations in Detroit and is now working for the City of Detroit as the lead staff of the Parks and Recreation Department with Detroit Outdoors.
Baba Moudou Baqui (aka Justin Petty) is a Detroit environmental educator. He also is a martial artist, an original organizer of D-Town Farm and the D-Town Groundbreakers, whose aim was to ensure a garden in the backyard of every Detroit resident. Currently he leads the Sons of Heru leadership program which exposes young men to outdoor adventures, environmental stewardship and wildcraft. He is also engaged in "Camp Moudou,"a multi-decade project to create a 200 acre ecological outdoor retreat space in Homer, Michigan. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, Justin enjoys fishing, kayaking, backpacking, camping, swimming, and archery.
Chris developed a love for nature and the outdoors at a young age. He has a passion for natural healing, camping, archery, mountain biking, and urban gardening. Born and raised in the city of Detroit, Chris attended Western Michigan University and Wayne State University.
Chris has worked with children and families around the City of Detroit and suburbs the Metropolitan area for over 20 years as an educator and coach (soccer & basketball). Currently, he is serving as the new Camping Education and Conservation Intern and is looking forward to helping youth increase their environmental awareness and make genuine, meaningful connections with the outdoors.
Nat grew up spending summers camping and hiking in nearby Michigan state and city parks, where they developed their passion for outdoor recreation. Their experiences growing up camping and their background in social work shaped their passion for equitable access to outdoor recreation, and led them to pursue a career focused on connecting youth to natural spaces. Nat is now serving as the Program Director of BOLD & GOLD at the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit and is the lead YMCA staff with Detroit Outdoors.
Rachel is a graduate of Wayne State University with her Bachelor’s in English and minor in African American Studies; with a background in science. She was born and raised here in Michigan about 15 minutes away from Detroit. The outdoors is somewhere that she has always found herself being drawn to, stemming from a love of animals. It was through her love of animals that led her to a passion for learning about the environments that they live in. Which resulted in a passion for nature itself.
She believes that everyone has a place in nature and should have the opportunity to access it. To carve out a space for themselves and interact with it in the way that resonates with them.
Now working as a Naturalist for the Detroit Parks & Recreation Department, she hopes to continue to gain knowledge and experience within the outdoor field. Aiming, in her role, to help introduce others to countless aspects of nature, so they also can witness its beauty, but most importantly feel comfortable and safe while doing so.
Born and raised in Southwest Detroit, Uriel graduated from Cass Tech in 2019 and spent the following summer as a participant for the YMCA’s BOLD & GOLD program. With a newfound appreciation and respect for the outdoors, he worked with Detroit Outdoors developing his outdoor leadership skills. Now working with the YMCA BOLD & GOLD as a Program Coordinator, Uriel 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.