Introduce yourself! What should the world know about you? 

Hi! I’m Elizabeth. I go by Elizabeth, E, and Liz. I’m a Black, plus-sized GenXer who loves being outside. Cycling, hiking, and photography are my thing. I came from a background that allowed me to play outside and create my own adventures among trees and within my imagination. To that end, I am comfortable not only in the outdoors, but also curled up with a good book, a warm fire, and my own thoughts. In my free time, I love to learn. I am a fountain of useless information that on occasion is useful or at the minimum has folks scratching their heads saying “How do you know that? More importantly, WHY do you know that?!?” I’m a fierce Auntie to 3 teens who somehow still think I’m cool. I’ve visited 49 out of 50 states with Hawaii for my 50th birthday being my last just before the pandemic hit. I don’t drink, but I own over 250 shot glasses and 50 pint glasses. I also pour an impeccable beer with very little head (#randomskills), I love a good cup of coffee and will actively seek independent coffee shops when traveling.

Professionally, I work for a nonprofit that works with youth in Foster Care, have or are experiencing homelessness and or living with mental health/behavioral health challenges, and am their Director of Organizational Development. I truly believe that we should all try to live a good story, be a better human, and love hard. Check me out on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok as Turtle Wandering.

What are you passionate about? 

I’m passionate about learning and exploring and then encouraging others to learn, grow and explore.

What drives you as a person, a leader, and a storyteller? What or who shapes you?

That is such a loaded question. As a person, I am driven by the desire to bring peace and happiness to my life. As a leader, I am driven by helping others grow and becoming the person they want to be, whether that is personally or professionally. As a storyteller, I am driven by wanting to share stories that inspire others to want to feel better. Whether that is in that moment or encouraging them to seek activity. I want others to feel good, or at least better than they did.

Why did you apply to the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship? What are you hoping to learn from this experience? 

I wanted to take advantage of learning more about how to reach others of color. Growing up, I liked in mostly White spaces and when I was around other POC, very few had interests like mine. In my work, I have taken many young POC kids into the woods and shown them the power of nature and I want to continue that on a broader scale. I am looking forward to connecting with others, learning from their experiences and knowledge, and using that to impact others. Also, I would long term like to end my working career focused on nature, the outdoors, and helping an intersection of under-recognized folks (POC, Fat, LGBT+) discover the outdoors and its healing properties.

How will the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship experience help you address the systemic barriers for access to, and representation / leadership of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the movement to connect people and nature? 

I will gain a broader understanding of the various barriers along with how others have addressed them. I will also learn how to gain the connections and create the networks necessary to do the work on a larger scale and meaningful level.

What is your favorite activity / place which connects you to nature and the outdoors?

Hiking, especially to waterfalls and cycling on gravel roads are my two favorite activities and I love capturing it all on camera.

Get to know all of the 2021-2022 Rethink Outside™ Fellows.