filed under: diversity/ethics

Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI): Part 1 (The What and Why of JEDI)

This webinar will help you articulate what you mean when you are talking about JEDI and why it is important to your organization. This webinar is hosted by the Partnership for the National Trail System, the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and American Trails.

Presented by:

Event Details

** This event has passed **

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (Mountain Time)
01:00 PM to 02:00 PM (Central Time)
02:00 PM to 03:00 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost:

  • CEUs are FREE for this webinar.
  • Note:

    Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
    Learning Credits
    are available for this webinar.


    Webinar Outline

    This webinar is an introduction to the world of diversity and inclusion. Presented by the Avarna Group, a nationally known consulting group working with the conservation community, we begin the first of two webinars to engage stewardship groups on how to improve the openness of their organizations to others. In this webinar we define basic terms like justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, and cultural relevance, and then lay out all of the reasons why this work (which we collectively call JEDI) is important in the particular space in which the organization operates (e.g, outdoor education, conservation, land management, environmental advocacy, youth development etc.).

    This webinar is hosted by the Partnership for the National Trail System, the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and American Trails.


    American Trails is a certified provider and learning credits are offered for this webinar: AICP CM (1.0) and LA CES PDH (1.0). We can also offer generic certificates for anyone wishing to obtain CEUs.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Learn definitions of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and more
    • Articulate what you mean when you are talking about JEDI
    • Learn the importance of JEDI to your organization

    JEDI: Part Two

    The series continues with Part 2, JEDI Strategies For Your Organization

    • Provide resources to guide you to take action on the JEDI topic
    • Learn the 4 quadrants of equity, inclusion, and diversity work
    • Takeaway ideas that work for both an individual and an organization

    Learn More


    Webinar Partners


    Ava Holliday, Founding Partner, The Avarna Group

    Ava believes a more sustainable future is dependent on simultaneously working towards social and environmental justice. She has devoted the last six years to researching and working in this field. Currently a Ph. D. candidate at the University of Washington in the department of Anthropology, Ava has designed and implemented a research project that investigates diversity and inclusion efforts in American environmentalism and has designed and taught several of her own university level courses covering topics such as power, identity, environmentalism, health, and wilderness. Beyond her academic life, Ava puts her knowledge into practice by working as an outdoor educator. Most recently, Ava served as a lead advisor and facilitator at the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit.


    Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Founding Partner, The Avarna Group

    Aparna is a former natural resources and business litigator who has devoted the last seven years to helping outdoor and environmental organizations attract and engage a diverse and inclusive base of people and cultivate inclusive cultures. Aparna has facilitated workshops on inclusion, equity, cultural competence, cultural relevancy, and implicit bias for over thousands of outdoor educators, nonprofit leaders, outdoor industry professionals, land managers, conservation grantors, and conservationists. She has also spearheaded projects that encourage public dialogue about diversity and inclusion in the outdoors, including Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors. Most recently, Aparna co-founded and has served as director for the People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and the Environment Summit.


    Webinar Resources

    The Avarna Group

    Partnership for the National Trails System

    National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance

    Questions and Answers

    Sarah Bursky asks:
    Is the phrase “Diversity candidates” equally bad? (We had this heated debate in our organization!)

    Yes, diversity is often used to describe an individual, and conflated with race. Both end up tokenizing people with marginalized identities. A “diversity candidate” additionally makes it sound like a box check instead of a hire made for someone’s qualifications.

    Christopher Douwes states:
    At some time in this webinar, I hope one or more presenters can talk positively about using qualified youth service and conservation corps in trail and transportation projects. Youth Corps organizations often represent JEDI principles.

    Yes, we will speak to this more next time, but conservation corps organizations actively practice JEDI in two ways. First, as jobs training programs they build skills and even compensate crew members for trail service. Second, many organizations are running single identity affinity crews to support inclusive environments for women, queer folks, indigenous youth, and people of color. Examples are Northwest Youth Corps, Montana Conservation Corps, the Ancestral Lands Program of Conservation Legacy.

    Maggie Lacwasan asks:
    In thinking about inclusion of Trans and non-binary folk, how do you integrate using pronouns in group introductions without pressuring people to “out themselves in front of a group of their peers/supervisors/co-workers when they might be comfortable using certain pronouns at that time or space?

    We use pronouns because it is important to us to share our gender identities and to indicate to people that they shouldn’t assume pronouns based on gender presentation. This also helps trans and nonbinary folks feel more welcomed and able to be themselves, and can help educate folks who don’t know the difference between gender identity and biological sex or how to honor people’s pronouns. With that said, it’s important to create a space for folk to opt out – in doing introductions, you can tell people that they are welcome to share their pronouns, but there is no expectation that they need to.

    Michael Meister asks:
    What is a good strategy for broaching this strategy with leadership in a State Agency that may tend to brush it off as not important?

    The reason we go through all the “whys” is that some of them may resonate more for folks who may be resistant to the work. The demographic why in particular seems to resonate for state agencies, who have a public duty to serve all (and not just some) of the population. You also can seek out any sort of institutional documents that have some sort of JEDI or inclusionary statement in them (i.e. a mission statement or public charge) to illustrate how JEDI is already part of the work they’ve agreed to do.

    Derek Carr asks:
    When is the use of a – for example – indigenous name for a trail “inclusion” and when is it “cultural appropriation?”

    As long as you do your homework to find out the trail name from a reputable source, preferably the tribe itself, acknowledging ancestral names for trails is more inclusive than appropriative. We define appropriation as the taking of cultural heritage from a marginalized community without compensation. Appropriation is about exploitation. Inclusion is about authentic work to tell a fuller trails story. But make sure it’s not performative or window dressing and that you’re also doing other JEDI work to back up your efforts beyond using indigenous trail names.

    Two resources on ancestral lands and indigenous names include: (specifically for Wyoming)

    Graham Hill asks:
    How can we support the recruitment of POC to the trails and other typically marginalized people?

    Remember that focusing only on recruitment won’t be sustainable without also focusing on retention and engagement (which means thinking about inclusion, equity, and justice). For folks interested in recruitment we have a free online toolkit in how to mitigate bias in recruitment and hiring at

    Ladan Ghahramani asks:
    At what point in this journey we can actually tell everyone we are welcoming all or we want to be welcoming to all in a way that we are authentic and people can actually feel welcome if they visit our trails?

    You’ll never be able to tell everyone you are welcoming to all because it is a journey and there’s always room for improvement. But you can talk about all the ways in which you’re working to make your trails more inclusive, which may include things like transportation access, lower fees, inclusive restrooms, easy-to-understand signage, accessible trails for people who use mobility aids, holistic interpretive signage that includes a full history with multiple perspectives, signs in multiple languages, and ranger and other site staff who reflect the identities of your visitors.

    Zachary Zimmerman asks:
    Our organization sends volunteers of all backgrounds to do climate conservation research with scientists, some of whom are younger than the volunteers themselves. How can we effectively prepare both scientist hosts and volunteers to honor and respect each other with respect to age/experience, not risk condescension or dismissal?

    There are three types of biases that can create tension within this group. There’s ageism, where volunteers may condescend to scientists because they are younger. There’s elitism, where scientists may condescend to volunteers based on their education. And there’s colonialism, which creates bias in favor of Western Science and doesn’t value multiple ways of knowing (such as traditional ecological knowledge). The best way to navigate this is to run some sort of training with both volunteers and scientists on how to grapple with their biases. Ensure that both scientists and volunteers are clear about what you expect from their behavior and create clear processes to work through issues (i.e. a dismissal policy, skill building, etc)

    Michael Hill asks:
    Can you provide some examples of programs that successfully engaged LGBTQ audience, and the importance of employing/engaging community people in outdoor efforts for their audiences?

    VentureOut, Queer Nature, and OutThereAdventures are three outdoor organizations that work specifically with LGBTQ youth. There are also camps specifically for trans youth. And there are conservation and trails programs that have created LGBTQ specific crews and experiences such as Washington Trails Association, Northwest Youth Corps, and Outward Bound California.

    Jaclyn Mothupi asks:
    What framework or resources do you recommend for beginning an affinity group at work?

    We suggest reaching out to organizations that have created affinity spaces to find out what has gone well and what has been challenging. Another participant has suggested you reach out to them: Chloe De Camara states: ATC recently has been working to establish affinity groups and have some lessons learned to share, if interested contact Julie Judkins at [email protected] If you don’t have enough people of a certain identity to create an internal group, we would advise sending staff to an external affinity gathering such as PGM ONE ( or the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit (happening in just a few weeks –

    Swan asks: Do you have suggestions for how white allies can appropriately welcome create the space where marginalized voices.

    Here are some resources from our website:

    We also suggest reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo to ensure you do your personal work along side supporting BIPOC voices.

    Aric Arakaki asks:
    White privilege drives trail cultures on all trails. How do you address this?

    The only way to address this is through sector-wide culture change efforts, which comes from each organization working to change its own culture and each individual being willing to do the work. If each trails organization works to train staff on white privilege and actually honor more and different ways of connecting to and caring for the places where you operate, you can shift culture to be more welcoming to people of different identities who see their connections reflected in your work. As more trails organizations work to create inclusive environments, the trails culture as a whole will shift. As an individual, you can work to hold yourself accountable (i.e. learning more, listening, and having difficult conversations with other white folks on and off the trail). We’ll never be perfect at the work, but we can make a positive impact.

    Beth Boyst asks:
    On your next session (or today if there's time) could you share your advice about providing trainings that are focused but perhaps not exclusive to a marginalized community.

    At the Avarna Group, we have a foundational unconscious bias workshop that focuses of people with all identities and talks about how we don’t have racial biases but biases based on gender, sexual orientation, class, ability, size, education, and more. We also run advanced affinity space workshops focused on supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in healing, connecting, and processing through ways BIPOC can be more supportive of each other and grapple with their own biases related to other identities beyond race. As a complementary workshop, we run affinity spaces for white folks to address whiteness, white privilege, white fragility, and white supremacy in themselves and their work in conservation. Each of these workshops has clear objectives to ensure we are creating an optimal learning experience for all people. If you hire a trainer, be sure to start with objectives and work from there. Finally, we want to note that training is just one small slice of the work we have to do – as we will show in the next webinar, the training is just to build knowledge and skills. The actual work happens once you’ve built that knowledge and those skills.

    Candelario Dayamiris asks:
    when we can’t control how trail users behave, how an organization can inspire behaving in a more welcoming manner? In my park, mountain bikers are often aggressive towards children who are hiking

    Though we know that there are tensions between multiple types of trail users (mountain bikers, runners, hikers, horseback riders, ATVers), this isn’t something we think about consistently as JEDI work. We do think about culture within each of these sports and how it can be exclusionary to people. For example, mountain biking culture is rife with toxic masculinity, sexism, and racism, which is something we’ve worked to address with the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Hiking likewise can be exclusionary to people who connect through nature through community in larger groups (for example, groups of young people of color get chastised for being loud and rambunctious and not behaving “appropriately,” which reflects a bias in how people should be hiking).

    Without knowing your specific organization, it’s hard to know what your role might be – in fact, understanding how your organization given its mission, expertise, and geography can contribute to JEDI in the trails world is part of doing JEDI work. Some ways that trail organizations have promoted inclusivity on trails is putting up signage that describes inclusive trail etiquette, using your social media platforms to tell stories (see Unlikely Hikers Instagram page as a great example of telling more and different stories about who hikes), and ensure your ambassador programs (if you have them) represent a diversity of people in your community.

    Ediger Vernita asks:
    What are some good strategies for working with leaders in rural and conservative communities around these issues?

    It’s important to build bridges with these communities based on common goals. For example, hunters and anglers and recreationists often share common goals around wildlife and fish protection and water quality. It’s also important to talk about classism and elitism, which may negatively impact many rural conservative communities. A colleague in Texas builds bridges to deeper conversations by talking to conservative constituents about ableism and physical access, a value that crosses the political aisle. The point is, ask the communities what their biggest concerns are and work hard to understand exactly what their anxieties are about. Sometimes (not always), behavior that dehumanizes people can be traced back to an anxiety that a person has about their own life. If you have the energy and feel safe enough to do so, we encourage you all to build relationships across those differences.

    Gatin Ingrid asks:
    I love the idea of being an equitable partner. What are some resources I could access to introduce this to my agency?

    The Avarna Group runs webinars on equitable partnerships and engaging stakeholders and communities meaningfully. Essentially, being an equitable partners is about understanding power dynamics between you and a potential partner and then creating clear lines of communication to ensure that you all are both getting what you expect, want and need out of the relationship.

    Michael Hanley asks:
    What would you say to leaders of organizations who are uncertain whether they have the time and capacity to take on JEDI work?

    Use the “whys” to bring them along. Let them know that though it is an initial investment of time, JEDI doesn’t mean working more but it means working better, and in the long run improves efficiency, innovation, and the bottom line.

    Donna Kridelbaugh asks:
    Language matters. So much of the Wilderness narrative is focused on gender based and Eurocentric language because the Wilderness Act from 1964 uses those words. How can people encourage those in the Wilderness arena to understand the need to update language that is culturally relevant, while also respecting their desire to honor the original act founders?

    We try to find champions for JEDI within the agencies who are willing to talk to their leaders about why language will need to shift, or at a minimum, the interpretation of the language needs to shift so it’s not read literally. You can honor the spirit of the Wilderness Act while eschewing exclusionary language (that has happened with many laws in our nation, including the Constitution). One of the changes that we’ve been making is moving away from a possessive public lands narrative (e.g. our public lands, public land owner, etc) and encouraging people to talk about how we care and connect to public lands. We also encourage people to refrain from talking about conquering mountains or any other landscapes.

    Leslie Lew asks:
    I'm frustrated that our organization cites the typical obstacles to inclusive hiring. There had been some lip service given to JEDI, but now the message is that we're too busy and that it's not a priority. There is also conversation about "fit" which to me looks like "no diversity." LGBTQ seems to be okay here, but not people of color. Sorry I know this is such a typical question. But reaching out to consider our JEDI constituency would be helped by having a diverse staff.

    We caution against “culture fit” because that reproduces current dominant culture. Instead we encourage hiring for “values fit.” If folks want to hire more people of color and with other marginalized identities, they also need to be willing to shift or expand the culture and focus on values and the person’s ability to do the job instead of whether they’re interested in the same activities or wear outdoor clothing (which are cultural pieces). So the question to ask candidates and yourselves in the hiring process is whether someone demonstrates a commitment to your mission rather than does their communication style fit in.

    Sam Rider asks:
    Why is it that you included preferred pronouns when introducing yourselves? Is this a practice the LBGTQ community has voiced as a preferred thing for folks to do? I'm asking as a person as part of the LBGTQ community. I know that as an ally it's meant to be inviting and welcoming for others to do the same (as you just said in response to a previous question). However, I wonder if it might come across as triggering or even unintentionally condescending when coming from a person who does not experience the same barriers as those in the LBGTQ community who would actually have utility in announcing their pronoun. Just asking out of curiosity on what the conversations have been on your end from reps from the LGBTQ community. I was once asked my pronoun directly in a work setting and I did not appreciate the potential assumptions that were associated with the question. That’s much different than providing your own while not directly asking another. I can just see how both might be triggering. Thanks!!

    We don’t ask for pronouns but share our pronouns because (a) it’s important to share that aspect of our identity; (b) it’s educational for folks to know that they can’t make assumptions about a person’s pronouns based on gender presentation; (c) it helps people understand how to honor pronouns; and (d) it is a signal to nonbinary and trans folks that we see them and will honor their pronouns.

    Paul Schrooten asks:
    How can we overcome the perception or reality of "coming up short" in addressing everyone's needs identified in JEDI (Getting an A for effort but not meeting ALL needs or concerns)?

    A lot of the paralysis around engaging in JEDI work is the fear of not getting it right, messing up, or not being able to meet everyone’s needs. This need for perfection is the first thing we would urge folks to shed. JEDI work is inherently imperfect, “raggedy,” and will be rife with missteps and learnings. We can never address everybody’s needs, but we can work to address more people’s needs. Not doing something is worse than doing something imperfectly. It’s also possible, depending on your organization, that you may actually not be for everyone. Outdoor education organizations for example are often not accessible to those who use wheelchairs or mobility aids. We instruct outdoor education organizations to be honest about those limitations and then build relationships with other organizations that are accessible to people who use mobility aids so they can refer folks out when needed.

    Carl Switzer asks:
    What are some strategies for engaging minority populations in a predominantly white population? Sometimes there is no direct channels to small communities.

    Language note: We use the word “people of color” or “BIPOC” or “people of the global majority” instead of “minority” because minority is statistically inaccurate in some places, and makes people feel “minor.” It will be important to move at the speed of trust, build authentic relationships with no agenda with key leaders within these communities, find out how you can support them (instead of figuring out how they can support your trails agenda), and find out issues that are top of mind for them (which may not be connected to trails).

    Lenny Crisostomo asks:
    Do you have any recommendations for breaking the cycle of white fragility in board officers who are resistant to a 101 anti-racism training?

    Short of sunsetting these board members, here are some ideas: onboard new board members who can influence them, send them articles on why board must confront white fragility, create new bylaws that include holding board members accountable to learning about and taking action on JEDI.. Here are some resources for boards:
    • Resources on DEI for boards generally:
    • Why it's important for boards to think beyond "diversity":
    • A personal anecdote about a board member coming to terms with their whiteness:
    • An article by Robin DiAngelo, who wrote White Fragility, about how to have difficult conversations (and receive feedback) about race and racism

    Closed Captioning

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    American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

    • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
    • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES PDH)
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    While we may individually agree (or disagree) in whole or in part with any or all of the participants, the views expressed in these webinars are not necessarily representative of the views of American Trails as an organization or its board and staff.

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