Stories from the front lines of the outdoor recreation/conservation coalition, featuring The Emerging Leaders.
Maricela Rosales is an advocate, organizer, and volunteer. As Latino Outdoors’ Los Angeles Coordinator, she connects underserved communities to their local State and National Parks, organizing monthly outings and expanding accessibility to different types of outdoor recreation. She also volunteers for Access Fund in the Los Angeles area, building relationships with the climbing community, public land managers, and the San Gabriel National Monument.
Justin Forest Parks is Logistics Assistant at Chicago Cares. He focuses on diversity and inclusion in climbing by introducing communities from the South and West Sides of Chicago to rock climbing.
Along with her role as the Public Lands Coordinator for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Jessi Johnson is the co-founder of Artemis, a new women’s group focused on changing the dialogue and stereotypes placed on the hunting and angling community, and encouraging women to take leadership roles in conservation and wildlife related positions.
Serving as an equal employment opportunity specialist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Jacquelyn Elizarraraz developed a unique perspective regarding diversity and inclusion in the context of natural resource management. Her work creating opportunities for underrepresented groups to learn about and participate in recreation and conservation eventually introduced her to Latino Outdoors. After facilitating a partnership between Latino Outdoors and the BLM California, Jacky began volunteering for the organization, and today serves as a regional coordinator for the Central Valley. She works with six other volunteers to facilitate monthly outings for community members of all backgrounds. As a queer, Latina woman, Jacky has not always felt safe exploring the outdoors with her wife, and has come to understand the importance of representation and normalization of underrepresented groups in public lands/outdoor spaces. Growing up in her life-long home of the California capitol valley, it is her experiences that drive her to continue to pursue her passions within her community.
Rob Vessels is a conservationist, a climber, and a veteran. Rob currently leads the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors program, which connects 14,000 service members, veterans, and their families to the outdoors each year through outings and outdoor leadership training. He recently relocated to Washington, DC, in hopes of fostering a new generation of environmental stewards by providing veterans with the proper tools and knowledge to leverage their unique voice in defense of America’s public lands. Prior to that, Rob served five years in the Army as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division, during which time he deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning home, Rob moved to California, where he used the state’s many wild landscapes and a close-knit community of fellow veterans to cope with struggles with PTS and adjustment into society. In his spare time, Rob enjoys explaining that, despite his height, he doesn’t play basketball.