#DifficultTerrain: When Little Changes Are Huge

I truly believe that we’re all navigating in a society that is operating under systematic oppression and as a result, I feel a huge obligation to provide our young people with some means of systematic resilience. …my work with Youth Outside in the Outdoor Educators Institute as well as the Rising Leaders Fellowship has really prepared me for that…this is hard stuff and we need that support. They provide the questions as well as the answers…and discussion spaces for us to have these conversations that are just so difficult to talk about. They give us the community that will continue to support us, and exchange resources with, and share the experiences with, and be validated in the things that we’re noticing. That we’re not crazy. We’re not alone. 
That the work that we’re doing is important and that little things are huge. Little changes are huge. 
….the toolbox the Youth Outside has provided me has really driven me to stay in the environmental field. 
– Valerie Lee, Habitat Restoration Project Manager, Grassroots Ecology, 2018 Rising Leaders Fellowship:

A few weeks ago, we held our fall event which showcased young leaders in the environmental and outdoor fields (Irwin Perez, Sofia Pablo-Hoshino and Valerie Lee) who shared their personal stories about how connecting with nature early on shaped their career choices.

Valerie Lee was one of our panelists. She participated in our Rising Leaders Fellowship program this year which supports the professional development of individuals in entry to mid-level positions who are enthusiastic about connecting youth to the outdoors in culturally relevant and inclusive ways by affecting culture change within their organizations.

I loved hearing her tell her story…and I was moved by the conviction in her voice about the importance of this career path that she is choosing.

I was also grateful to hear her powerful testimony that Youth Outside’s work is helping young people – no matter who they are, where they come from and how they identify themselves – make a commitment to working in the outdoor and environmental fields.

But one of my biggest takeaways from Valerie’s story was the reminder that we have to celebrate the little changes.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. We face huge challenges as we tackle a complex set of intertwined outcomes that are necessary to lead to real change – and we must continue to fight to transform the outdoor and environmental movements on a large scale.

But we also need to appreciate that every time a young person finds this career path…every time someone feels included and welcome in the outdoors…every time an organization is willing to take a hard look at themselves…we are making a difference.

So thank you, Valerie, for reminding us that “…the work that we’re doing is important and that little things are huge. Little changes are huge.”