Meet Shoestring Warrior and Educator, Organizer, and Activist Grace Anderson

From organizing events focusing on racial equity and inclusion in the outdoor and environmental sectors to teaching outdoor skills to women identified people and people of color and others from marginalized identities, this week’s Shoestring Warrior is actively working to support people in having experiences that are relevant to them in the outdoors. Meet Shoestring Warrior, educator, organizer, and activist Grace Anderson!

I love being outside in intentional, “single” identity groups. For example, earlier this year, I worked a spring break trip for girls of color with GirlVentures and later this summer, I’ll be leading a backpacking trip with Balanced Rock for Women of Color.

Grace discovered that working in the outdoors could be a profession when she was on a spring break trip in Joshua Tree with the Student Conservation Association and never looked back. Grace is passionate about diversifying the outdoors and in supporting people of marginalized identities in discovering the outdoors. Keep reading to learn about her favorite organizations working towards the same goal and to learn about what we can do as members of the outdoor community to address participation barriers! Follow Grace’s adventures on Instagram.

Shoestring Warrior: Grace Anderson

Hometown:

Staunton, VA

Current Location:

Lander, WY

Profession: 

Educator, Organizer, and Activist

What are your passions outside of work?

I love hosting dinner parties at my house and binge reading. I hope to host a party in our  backyard in the near future and I’m challenging myself to read books by trans and queer folks (mostly of color) this year. One of my favorite books so far this year is “Here Comes the Sun” by Nicole Dennis Benn.

Tell us about yourself!

Today, I am the program instructor for GirlVentures and several other outdoor organizations. I serve as the Community Partnership Manager for PGM ONE, an annual summit focusing on racial equity and inclusion in the outdoor and environmental sectors, and lead an Emerging Leader Program to illuminate people working at the intersections of cultural relevancy, outdoor recreation, and conservation.

As an educator, organizer and activist, my goal is to support people in becoming more self-sufficient in the outdoors and in having experiences that are relevant to them.

I have the opportunity to share my skills and knowledge with other women identified people and people of color – and others from marginalized identities.

How would you describe your level of camping experience?

High?

When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?

I participated in a spring break trip in Joshua Tree National Park in California with the Student Conservation Association. We did trail maintenance, went climbing and slept under a million stars. Until then I didn’t realize you could actually have a job in the outdoors.

You’ve been working in the outdoor industry for many years. What do you enjoy most about the work you’re doing?

I love being outside in intentional, “single” identity groups. For example, earlier this year, I worked a spring break trip for girls of color with GirlVentures and later this summer, I’ll be leading a backpacking trip with Balanced Rock for Women of Color.

There is a lot of power in creating space for folks with marginalized identities in the outdoors.

What are some of the participation barriers in outdoor recreation and what can we do as members of the outdoor community to address these barriers?

We need to make our work intersectional. No one walks into the outdoors without the identities that they carry on an everyday basis.

To truly address issues that impact folks ability to access the outdoors, we need to take a wider view of what is impacting people and communities – for example, do these people have access to clean water in their communities? Does this person have access to regular and healthy food? Does this community experience police violence and institutionalized oppression? These are absolutely relevant to a person’s ability to access and enjoy the outdoors.

We also need to rethink what outdoor recreation is and looks like. There is equal value in recreating in a local park and visiting Yosemite. Sometimes we create more barriers by imposing more expectations on what it needs to look like.

You recently participated in the People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and the Environment Summit, an event that brings together hundreds of emerging and established professionals of the global majority to lead the racial equity and inclusion movement in the outdoor and environmental sectors. As you reflect on that experience, what do you find most inspiring?  

It was incredibly inspiring to be in a space by people of color and held for only people of color. It isn’t often that I see myself reflected in outdoor spaces in abundance and at PGM ONE I felt my identities so reflected and celebrated.

What are some of your favorite organizations and people working to diversify the outdoors?

Melanin Base Camp – The goal of Melanin Base Camp is to increase the visibility of adventure athletes of color, to increase representation in the media, advertising and in the stories that are told about the Outdoors.

TheGreatOutchea – Celebrates and promotes people of color exploring the great outdoors.

NativesOutdoors – A public benefit corporation (B-Corp) whose products serve to support indigenous people. NativesOutdoors works directly in the intersection of the outdoor industry, indigenous people, and conservation.

Unlikely Hiker – A diverse and inclusive Instagram community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson.

Queer Nature – Queer Nature is a queer-run nature education and ancestral skills program serving the local LGBTQ+ community in Colorado.

What advice do have for people on finding their adventure community?   

First, find your people. Finding people that you enjoy being around with in general and share common interests with you is key.

From there, explore different activities and places with those folks. Maybe take a class or join an organized trip with those folks.

Funniest outdoor experience/mishap?

I was working a course with GirlVentures who has a “shoes at all times” policy to prevent injuries. We shared this with students on the first day, as we do with all groups. That night, as we were making sure students were in their tents and comfortable, a student calls out “Do we have to sleep in these uncomfortable hiking boots?” It was a funny moment of a policy being translated in the most rigid way and students thinking they even had to sleep in their shoes.

Where’s your next adventure?

I’m writing this from Kalymnos, a Greek Island known for its thousands of sport climbing routes and ridiculous beauty. We headed to do a multi-pitch today and I am jazzed to get some panoramic views of the island and beyond. After this, I should probably sit still for a bit.

The perfect s’more? (if you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)

I’m not much of a desert person at all. My favorite camping snack is lots of beef jerky.



Join the Shoestring Adventures Club!

Join us today to receive exclusive perks and to take your adventures to the next level! Members will receive access to our private Facebook group, early-registration for events and special discounts.


Sign up today!

More from Yosefa Gilon

5 Outdoor Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Facebook Twitter Pinterest EmailsharesRacking your brain trying to figure out how you’re...
Read More

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.