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P.O. Box 347171
San Francisco


We are a growing NETWORK of local organizations using training and outdoor gear libraries to help connect kids to the outdoors across America. 

2015 Session Descriptions

All sessions will be held at Rob Hill Campground unless otherwise noted.  Short presentations (not listed) will be given by each Member Program throughout the Summit.

Thursday, November 5


Outdoor Technology and the Network

Time: 10am

Outdoors Empowered Network's outdoor technology partner, Trailhead Labs, will be focusing on two pain points in response to feedback from member organizations:

  • Better data, maps and trip planning tools for getting to outdoor destinations. 
  • Collecting and capturing adventure stories while building a collection of curated trip destinations and experiences.  

Members will learn about tools they’ll have access to that will enable them to create better outdoor datasets like trailheads, campgrounds and curated trips, and then create and embed interactive maps on their websites for their community to more easily plan outdoor adventures. We hope these tools will increase engagement with youth as they embark on their outdoor adventures and then tell their stories. Summit participants will be able to join a Transit & Trails adventure on Saturday morning to test out some of the technology in the field.  


Ryan Branciforte, Trailhead Labs

Ryan Branciforte.jpg

Ryan has always had a passion for using technology to conserve land and connect people to the outdoors. Ryan has extensive experience supporting and training government staff, non-profits, outdoor companies and conservation groups in the use of technology to solve complex problems primarily focused on outdoor recreation and conservation. In 2008 he cofounded Transit & Trails and most recently cofounded Trailhead Labs where an amazing team is focused on building innovative technologies that connect people with the outdoors.

Tackling biases for more inclusive outdoor programming

Time: 1pm

In this three-hour workshop you will gain fluency surrounding the language of diversity and inclusion and be able to articulate for yourself and others why it matters in the context of outdoor and environmental education. We will help you uncover your blindspots—hidden biases that that create exclusive environments for people with certain identities—and share some tips and tools on how to interrupt them in yourself and how to challenge them in others. We will also discuss some institutional biases that pervade our industry, including biases surrounding recruiting and hiring and biases within our program structures and administration. You will leave with tools you can share with your team to help build a more inclusive organization and foster more welcoming environments both in your workplace and on your outdoor programs.


Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, The Avarna Group

An engineer for a handful of years and a lawyer for a decade, Aparna has spent the last five years pursuing her passion of facilitating conversations surrounding diversity, inclusion, equity, access, cultural competency, and cultural relevance with mission driven organizations in the outdoor and conservation spheres. She was the diversity and inclusion manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School and most recently served as the director of people and culture with the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition. 


Ava Holliday, The Avarna Group

Ava wears many hats in the name of making the outdoors a more inclusive space. As a researcher, she investigates the successes and challenges of diversity and inclusion efforts in outdoor education. As an educator and consultant, she puts theory into practice by facilitating conversations and action around equity, inclusion and diversity in the outdoors.


Friday, November 6


Keynote: Juan Martinez, Children & Nature Network

Time: 8:30am


Juan Martinez is a proud product of south central Los Angeles.  Martinez is the Children & Nature Network’s Director of Leadership Development and the Natural Leaders Network, which focuses on celebrating the positive value of nature.  He is also a founding Advisor to Outdoors Empowered Network.

His passion to empower youth led him to direct Sierra Club’s first environmental justice youth leadership academy in Los Angeles. Named by National Geographic as an Emerging Explorer in 2011, Juan was recognized by the National Science Teachers Association’s Multicultural and Equity Committee for his work as a Global Explorer. He represents The North Face as an ambassador for outdoor engagement and in 2012 he became the youngest member in history of the Sierra Club Foundation Board of Trustees.

Creating Shared Metrics for the Network

Time: 9:45am

Returning for a second year at the Summit, Dr. Roberts will move the Network towards a critical component within our work: shared metrics.  Program Member organizations will come seeking knowledge about specific data/impact they'd like to measure for their programs.  Collectively we will come to agreement about those particular data points that we share, allowing us to articulate our impact in aggregate.  


Nina Roberts

Nina S. Roberts, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at San Francisco State University where her areas of emphasis include outdoor recreation, parks, youth development, urban programming, and leadership. She is also the Director of SFSU’s Pacific Leadership Institute, connecting urban youth with the outdoors. Prior to SF State, Nina was with the National Park Service where she was an education and outreach specialist. She is a former Board member of the Yosemite Institute, and currently serves on the Advisory Board for GirlVentures and NPCA's Center for Park Management. Nina is a Fulbright Scholar with the Indo-American Environmental Leadership Program and is nationally recognized for her work regarding cultural diversity, national parks and public lands.


Time: 1:30pm

A panel of program and land managers utilizing public lands in or near urban centers in San Francisco and Chicago will share what they've learned about their respective programs.  The Camping at the Presidio Program (CAP), launched in 2007, is a national model for near nature access to the outdoors, now reaching close to 8,000 underserved young people annually. The CLIC Program, which ran its first programs in June of 2015, is based on the CAP model, but is part of an ambitious five campground initiative aimed at re-shaping the public's connection to nature and public lands in Chicago.  Key questions we'll address include: What are the best roles for land managers, and non-profits to play in partnerships that create campground based programming?  What are some of the actual costs involved in campground based programming?  How does camping lead to connections to families, partnerships with new organizations, and fundraising opportunities?



Annie Burke (Moderator): Deputy Director, Bay Area Open Space Council
Brian Arnoldt: Program Manager, Campgrounds, Forest Preserve of Cook County (Chicago)
Michele Gee: Chief of Interpretation, Golden Gate National Recreation AreaNational Park Service
Damien Raffa: Education and Volunteer Manager, Presidio Trust
Grace Melango Blake: Program Manager, Camping in the Presidio Program, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

TRANSFORMING YOUTH OUTDOORS:  An online learning community customized for network member programs and their clients.

Time: 3:15pm

Following an overview and demonstration of the TYO platform, Chris will workshop with staff of Network Member organizations to develop custom uses specifically for the Outdoors Empowered Network community.  Our goals are to co-create both custom learning tools for teachers and youth workers trained by OEN member programs and an online resource and idea sharing community. Attendees can prepare for this session by creating a profile and exploring the TYO platform (


Chris Rutgers


Christopher Rutgers is the founder of Outdoor Outreach, and now serves as the Executive Director of TYO:  Transforming Youth Outdoors. As a competitive skier, whitewater river guide, expedition rock climber and avid surfer, Chris has spent most of his life developing a passion for the outdoors. It was this passion that helped Chris overcome his own at-risk childhood. In 1999, he founded Outdoor Outreach as a means to give at-risk and underprivileged youth the same life-changing opportunities. Drawing from his own personal experiences, Chris developed the Outdoor Outreach program model and philosophies that have proven to be so successful working with at-risk and underprivileged youth.  Chris is now spearheading the national initiative TYO, an online learning community created to scale the impact in outdoor youth development and transform the lives of youth by providing best practices, tools and support to individuals and organizations working with youth in the outdoors.

Satellites in the High Country: A presentation by Author, Jason Mark

Location: Tides (Presidio) 

During the second annual Outdoors Empowered Network Special Reception, journalist, adventurer author and dynamic speaker, Jason Mark will share his newest book, Satellites in the High Country. In his book, Mark travels beyond the bright lights and certainties of our cities to seek wildness wherever it survives. In California's Point Reyes National Seashore, a battle over oyster farming and designated wilderness pits former allies against one another, as locals wonder whether wilderness should be untouched, farmed, or something in between. In Washington's Cascade Mountains, a modern-day wild woman and her students learn to tan hides and start fires without matches, attempting to connect with a primal past out of reach for the rest of society. And in Colorado's High Country, dark skies and clear air reveal a breathtaking expanse of stars, flawed only by the arc of a satellite passing—beauty interrupted by the traffic of a million conversations. These expeditions to the edges of civilization's grid show us that, although our notions of pristine nature may be shattering, the mystery of the wild still exists — and in fact, it is more crucial than ever. 

Saturday, NOVEMBER 7


Transit & Trails hike, Sponsored by Trailhead labs

Time: 8am - 3:30pm  
Cost: estimated cost including lunch and transit = $35
Location: Depart from Rob Hill Campground

Ready for an adventure?! This Transit & Trails hike will take folks across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, through the most visited national park in the country with incredible ocean views, down into the one of the Bay Area’s artistic enclaves, across the Bay via Ferry, then along the historic Embarcadero, and finally over to the East Bay where you’ll get a ‘Lyft’ over to Bay Area Wilderness Training for our closing party. Ryan, Founder of Trailhead Labs, will lead this epic route and talk maps, apps, offline, online and other outdoor technology lingo along the way. Access to hike comes with both single-day and full Summit registration, but all registrants must RSVP upon registration. 

Bay Area Wilderness Training Gear Library Tour + Closing Party

Time: 4pm
Location: 1050 E 8th Street, Oakland, CA 94606

All summit participants are welcome to this final hurrah!  Enjoy a tour of the gear library -which can outfit over 300 youth at once- as well as some craft brew and delicious local eats.  

Big Thanks to BAWT for hosting!