A repeated, definitive interpretation, legitimized through literature and media by those with power, can marginalize different representations of the same thing. When one story becomes the only story, this can create an incomplete picture – in this case, of wilder-ness. Join us for a discussion to identify communication barriers, explain why certain language and concepts specific to wilderness may privilege some individuals or groups while excluding others, and suggest strategies for producing more inclusive communication materials.  

Join Jesse Chakrin, NPS-Director of UC Merced Wilderness Education Center and Kimm Fox-Middleton, FWS-Wilderness Interpretation & Outreach Specialist as they share their experiences working to expand inclusivity and contributing to the International Journal of Wilderness article, 'Can We Make Wilderness More Welcoming? An Assessment of Barriers to Inclusion'.  

ASL interpretation will be provided. FWS BIPOC and FAPAC DOI ERGs welcome all in the DOI family to attend to learn more about this important topic. 

We can't wait to see you there!

Event details

We're excited for you to join us as we reflect and listen to their experiences on the process, barriers, and breakthroughs in developing inclusive communications in public lands, specifically in wilderness highlighted in the article and some possible next steps in operationalizing this work.  We recommend you review the article ahead of the discussion, but it is not required: 

To register for this event, email your interest to

This meeting is hosted jointly by FAPAC DOI and FWS BIPOC Employee Resource Groups, and we welcome all in DOI to engage and learn more about this important topic. ASL interpretation will be provided, please contact event organizers if you need additional resources to participate in this event.  

About the Article

Abstract from International Journal of WildernessPerspectives about and values for wilderness vary greatly among people who are underrepresented in wilderness recreation and management. Understanding divergent interpretations of wilderness can better equip communicators to evaluate how well communications strategies resonate with audiences, including potential and current wilderness visitors, employees, and partners. A committee of individuals from systemically excluded groups conducted a reflective assessment of wilderness attributes and norms and how they are communicated, revealing potential inclusivity barriers to wilderness under four themes: Wilderness History and Culture, Fundamental Wilderness Qualities, Gender Assumptions, and Access to Wilderness. This reflective assessment can also help communicators broaden and reenvision traditional narratives about wilderness history, culture, and values to respectfully include diverse stories, varied experiences, and relationships between wilderness, other social forces, and historical events.

About the Authors

LISA RONALD is the former wildlands communications director at the University of Montana’s Wilderness Institute where she oversaw Wilderness Connect for nearly 20 years. She now works for American Rivers; email:

SALAH AHMED is a visual information specialist and California interpretation and education lead with the Bureau of Land Management; email:

KATIE BLISS is the deputy division manager in the Division of Training at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center. She formerly directed the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and is a founding member of National Park Service Allies for Inclusion; email: katie_bliss@

JESSE CHAKRIN is the director of the Yosemite Leadership Program; email:

TANGY EKASI-OTU is the wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers specialist for the Forest Service’s Washington Office and former Hispanic Access Foundation fellow; email:

KIMM FOX-MIDDLETON is the wilderness interpretation and outreach specialist at the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center. She is an Environmental Professionals of Color member and former diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer for the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region; email:

JENN HARRINGTON is a Cree and Metis tribal member and Native American natural resource program coordinator at the University of Montana’s W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. She is a former wilderness ranger; email:

SHELTON JOHNSON is a park ranger at Yosemite National Park. He is an author, poet, playwright, and actor in a stage production about Yosemite’s African American military history entitled “Yosemite through the Eyes of a Buffalo Soldier, 1903”; email:

TINA MAZZEI is a volunteer outing leader with the Sierra Club’s Gay and Lesbian Sierrans; email:

JESSI MEJIA graduated in 2022 from the University of Montana’s Environmental Journalism Graduate Program. She is the former high country program coordinator at Glacier National Park and is now working as a freelance journalist and photographer; email:

ROGER OSORIO is a park ranger at Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument and former youth leader with Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards and Groundwork Hudson Valley; email: roger_

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