Society turns a blind eye when it comes to our economically disadvantaged inner-city youth. There is a growing separation in gender equality and an overall unequal representation of diversity and culture within STEM industries. As such, environmental STEM fields have not yet reached, nor have they impacted youth across various backgrounds and social-economic statuses. In fact, when it comes to gender equality in environmental careers women of color have not benefited in this area, and males that occupy the majority of decision-making positions are not of color as well. (Taylor, 2014) Moreover, the research indicates that racial diversity in environmental STEM careers is far behind gender diversity (Taylor, 2014). The majority of environmental organizations are predominantly white and very few grant producing foundations are managed by people of color. Environmental organizations with career opportunities do not employ the internship pipeline effectively to identify and recruit ethnic minorities into positions that make a difference in environmental stewardship.
At present, the opportunity for young people to develop a love for the environment by way of the Rocky Mountains is a major issue. In order to develop a love for the environment, most especially the Rocky Mountains, an opportunity to revel in their beauty through exposure to their majestic treasures is necessary. The absence of opportunity and exposure to the great outdoors pervades the lack of love for the richness they offer which leads to the absence of buy-in from our youth concerning environmental stewardship. Ultimately, the inability to foster a love of nature in this way leads to a lack of diversity, decreased access to environmental STEM opportunities, and a marked decrease of mentorship in environmental careers.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF NOTHING IS DONE
In a study conducted by the EOC 28 years ago, it was reported that:
Of the environmental employers surveyed, most indicated that they were searching for “qualified” minority workers, but were unsuccessful in finding any.
Ethnic minorities lacked access to jobs and careers in the environmental field.
There was a lack of educational and career pipelines to encourage minorities to embark on careers in the environmental field.
Students of color were less likely to have internship experiences as compared to white students.
There was a limited supply of ethnic minority environmental professionals.
Ethnic minorities were interested and enthusiastic about the environmental field when presented with opportunities to enter.
Unfortunately, there has been a limited improvement to the status quo since the publication of that report. When asked, “What will happen if society continues to turn a blind eye when it comes to our economically disadvantaged inner-city youth?” The answer simply is that we as a society will continue to repeat the findings of the EOC study (EOC, 1992). The lack of diversity and representation of men and women of color within environmental stewardship and STEM industry occupations will undoubtedly leave American in peril. The crisis facing our planet should be addressed by all who are able and not just the select few who are allowed a seat at the table.
There is a place for inclusion and acceptance in the environmental STEM field. There will be outstanding opportunities to engage in nature, and increase awareness, diversity, and inclusion within environmental occupations. Minority students will have the skills to back-up their interest in working in an environmental STEM career. The US census projects that ethnic minorities and people of multi-racial backgrounds will comprise roughly 57% of the population by the year 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Taylor (2014) also predicts a demographic shift with significant implications for the environmental field. Our inner-city communities will have an opportunity to increase their voices in the area of environmental sustainability through participation in our programming.
WHEN WE SHARE THE LOVE
When young people develop an earnest love for the Rocky Mountains and the environmental STEM careers, the magic happens. The environmental stewardship light turns on and change is ignited. Environmental STEM access will become vast and wide, and no one will be denied the opportunity to expand their mind or participate within an industry that is dedicated to environmental sustainability. Our youth will have the opportunity to see themselves as a part of the solution and will fulfill the call to join a workforce that is capable of and passionate about maintaining the environment. As such, diversity within environmental STEM career fields will increase; providing a workforce composed of people of color who are capable of mentoring subsequent generations of leaders into the field as well.
HOW DO WE SHARE THE LOVE
The members of LHCF believe in funding an outdoor experience that is inclusive. We create pathways that lead to outdoor experiences which provide opportunities to increase awareness of the environment and the Rocky Mountains. Moreover, we provide education around Lincoln Hills’s historical connection to the African American community. We believe our funding increases the opportunity for diversity and inclusion in environmental occupations by way of funding outdoor education and experiences for inner-city youth. The foundation’s financial support of Lincoln Hills Cares (LHC) will continue to enable its ability to develop the next generation of young leaders through education and recreation, cultural history exploration, and STEM field career exposure, and eventual workforce advancement. We believe in funding LHC for the next 50 years and beyond; effectively creating a pipeline of passionate and capable persons of color to lead environmental stewardship and sustainability efforts.
OUR RECORD FOR SHARING THE LOVE
The rich history of Lincoln Hills and the African American community dates back to 1922 as a vacation resort for African Americans. Lincoln Hills Cares was founded in 2008, by Robert F. Smith and Matthew Burkett, two entrepreneurs with the ability to envision a future of what was invisible to others. Their funding was the catalyst that gave underrepresented and underserved Colorado youth access to enriching, educational and transformative outdoor education-focused experiences. Our overall programming has been shared with over 120,000 program participants over the last eleven years. In addition, LHC has logged over 3,920 hours of programming with the help of 36 partner groups just last year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP LHCF SHARE THE LOVE
We are searching for major gift partnerships that believe in building a love for the Rocky Mountains in our youth through outdoor education, recreation, cultural history exploration, and workforce advancement. We desire to identify and collaborate with partners to help ensure LHC remains part of the teaching and learning of youth in the Denver Metro and Front Range Communities for generations to come. Your partnership will help usher in a shift to the current paradigm and expand opportunities for underrepresented minorities in environmental stewardship. To partner with us, simply click the link at the bottom of this page. From there you will be directed to our partnership empowerment and major gift donor pages. We are grateful for your partnership and eager to welcome you to the LHCF family. Together we can change the narrative of diversity and inclusion within STEM industries.
Ed.D., Educational Leadership, University of Phoenix; M.A., Biology, University of Colorado Boulder; B.A. Science Education, Clark Atlanta University // Dr. Howard passed away…