The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - 14

Angelou
Ezeilo

The Authentic
Angelou
Angelou Ezeilo, the keynote speaker at OIA's
Industry Breakfast, is the type of leader who
can help a broken country find a path forward,
building a better new reality for everyone.
By James Edwards Mills
THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF THE

2020 biannual Outdoor Industry
Association Industry Breakfast
meeting will be conducted as a
massive video conference. Angelou
Ezeilo, co-founder and CEO of
the Greening Youth Foundation,
will share her thoughts on the
importance of racial diversity,
equity, and inclusion in the business of outdoor recreation. In
light of national protests over the
recent murder of George Floyd
by police officers in Minneapolis
and the rise in awareness of the

Black Lives Matter movement,
organizers of the convention are
using this opportunity to discuss
the hard truths behind the lack of
cultural representation throughout the industry. With the added
disruption of a global pandemic
that forced the cancellation of the
Outdoor Retailer Summer Market
in Denver, senior executives at
companies and environmental
nonprofit organizations are coming to realize that we are still a
long way from business as usual.
And perhaps that's not such a bad

14 THE WEEKLY / OUTDOOR RETAILER SUMMER 2020

thing. Maybe now is the time to
use this virtual event to create a
new reality with an equally unconventional presentation.
"My initial thinking is that OIA
only takes up five minutes at the
beginning to describe thriving
business, thriving people, thriving
planet, and then pivot," said OIA
President Lise Aangeenbrug. "In
order for us to be serious and true
to this statement, it needs to not
only include all races, backgrounds, and genders. It needs to
start with Black voices, and we are
turning the mic over."
Author of the new book Engage,
Connect, Protect: Empowering
Diverse Youth As Environmental
Leaders, Ezeilo is the voice the
outdoor industry needs to hear. A
Black woman of almost 50, who is
based in Atlanta, she has a lifetime
of experience in advancing the
careers of Black and Brown young
people in public land conservation
and natural resource management. Having grown up in Jersey
City, New Jersey, her personal love
of the outdoors stems from regular
visits to 50 acres of land owned by
her parents in upstate New York.
"I got that early introduction,
but that was something I was never
encouraged to pursue as a career,"
she says. "Instead, I went into the
legal field, and that's how I got into
farmland preservation and land
conservation work for the Department of Agriculture in the state of
New Jersey and then the Trust for
Public Land."
Founded in 2015, the Greening
Youth Foundation (GYF) specializes in providing job training
and internships for women and
men of color, many of whom
attend historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),

tribal community colleges, and
Hispanic-serving institutions
of higher learning. Through her
work, Ezeilo connects these young
people with career opportunities at federal bureaus of land
management such as U.S. Fish &
Wildlife, the National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service. In
recent years, GYF has also created
partnerships with companies in
the outdoor industry that include
Patagonia and The North Face.
"There was no real organization
15 years ago that focused on young
people of color and teaching them
about the importance of being
stewards of the land and recreating. But not just those things; it
is also about having a career in
this field," Ezeilo says "I wanted
to make sure there weren't going
to be any more Black or Brown
girls who love this work but think
it's not for them. That was a big
reason why the Greening Youth
Foundation came about."
Building relationships with
organizations nationwide, GYF
forges career pathways into
professional fields in the outdoor
industry that many young people
have never heard of before. The
foundation provides skills training in areas such as landscape
management, green infrastructure
development, wildland firefighting,
and tree care management. "We're
providing them with the hard
skills. But we're also providing
them with the soft skills we know
they need to succeed, like financial
literacy, professional development,
and cultural awareness," Ezeilo
says. "Through these internships,
they're learning about the different
careers and fields. I see it as a human right to have access to basic
career pathways, particularly ones

CO U R T E SY A N G E LO U E Z E I LO

Resources and Education


https://gyfoundation.org/

The Weekly - July 21, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Weekly - July 21, 2020

Contents
The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - Cover1
The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - Cover2
The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - Contents
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The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - 28
The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - Cover3
The Weekly - July 21, 2020 - Cover4
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