In this interview with Nyack News and Views, Wild Earth Program Director, Esperanza Gonzalez, explains the deeper intentions of our programs. Some people know us as the folks who teach kids to build fires or the summer camp organization. While that captures some of what we offer, Esperanza shares that the heart of our work is more about how we engage with participants to support social and emotional growth through a deeper connection with nature.
Omari Washington identified his purpose in 2004, during a backpacking & paddling trip above the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Despite emerging evidence, at that time few people were willing to believe climatologists’ warnings that humans were negatively impacting our planet. Hiking across the melting permafrost, Omari witnessed the significant changes already taking place. Moreover, he knew that many marginalized communities would be disproportionately affected by our inaction. After returning from that trip, Omari attended Green Mountain College in Vermont and received a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Since then, he has led hikes in urban parks, managed diverse teams of environmental educators, built school gardens, developed curricula, and helped plant 1,000,000 trees in New York City. The focus of all of this work has been to engage and empower youth in developing deep connections to nature, centered around their own unique experiences. Omari is grateful to be welcomed into the Wild Earth community, where young leaders are growing wild! More about Omari's work.