News Items - Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
Jeannette Stawski recounts her adventures in Death Valley with colleagues and family, reflecting on nature's ability to help people reconnect and recharge.

Hello AORE Community!
I'm currently on a trip that connects national parks all the way from Death Valley to Mesa Verde. While I’ve yet to visit Arches National Park––Delicate Arch, there have been opportunities to see many other of Mother Nature's fantastic displays. This adventure started with an expedition in Death Valley with six other women who either work for, or work in natural resource conservation and recreation. These incredibly smart and dedicated, passionate individuals inspire me both professionally and personally.

Our paths crossed through a collective commitment to outdoor education and recreation, access and permitting issues, lands management, and environmental stewardship. And we continue to bond over our shared love of nature and belief in the power of advocacy as a tool to ensure that current and future generations can enjoy public lands. Spending time on the trails and at camp with these women deepened the connection we all felt with each other. Throughout our hiking trip, we experienced reminders of awe and wonder everywhere around us––from vibrant flowers and plants, hidden springs, and rock formations––all in this remote and dry environment. As our relationships deepened through conversations, we marveled at the resilience of nature and reflected on how so many people seek out wild places to reconnect to themselves, other people, or to the Earth itself. While our time together was short, it was also transformational, recharging all of us. I am so thankful for the memories we were all able to make along the way.

My family met up with me in Death Valley next, and from there we traveled East and upwards in elevation so that Justin and could continue showing our children, Gretel and Thor, the beauty of our National Parks––magical places that we both visited in our younger years and are now sharing with them. As the great environmentalist and nature writer Edward Abbey writes, "for a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels," and during the precious little time we have with Gretel and Thor while they are still kids we have delighted in watching them discover their own unique relationships to nature and the earth.

These wild places, protected by the women I traveled with, and later enjoyed by my family, are worth more than any sort of transactional value. But don’t take my word for it. I urge you to pause on our planet’s birthday this April 22nd and find a way to renew your own personal connection with the earth and with nature.

Yours in Adventure,
Jeannette Stawski
Executive Director


Want more Earth Day stories? Read this essay from Board Chair Kellie Gerbers, in which she celebrates the recently passed “Every Kid Outdoors Act” and reflects on the importance of environmental education and stewardship––just in time for Earth Day.


Categories: Advocacy, Executive Director Update
Published: 04/19/19