From New Mexico to Minnesota: Friends and Allies in a Movement that Matters

My hiking companions and allies in the movement to connect youth to the outdoors, Sarah Milligan-Toffler of the Children & Nature Network and Erik Stegman of the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute.

My hiking companions and allies in the movement to connect youth to the outdoors, Sarah Milligan-Toffler of the Children & Nature Network and Erik Stegman of the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute.

Six months ago I founded LBC Action with a vision. I was determined to work with groups that wanted to make an impact, that looked to work collaboratively, and that could help me learn, personally and professionally.

At the time, I was concerned that I would miss being on a team. The happy truth is that I’m now working with more people than ever - and growing more than ever. The definition of team may have changed, but the spirit of teamwork has not. It doesn’t hurt that almost all of my teammates share a devotion to protecting and enjoying the outdoors.

That’s especially important today. We live in such a divided world, politically and culturally. What I’ve found is that the outdoors can be a powerful bridge between people who may feel they have little in common. It’s a tremendous honor to be part of this work. My good friend Marc Berejka calls it a revolution. I have to agree. What else could unite so many hearts and minds committed to change?

If the outdoors is the great stage for change, then who are the characters?

One of the things that has made LBC Action so much fun is the opportunity to work with so many people who make me think. Make me laugh. Maybe even make me cry.

These characters are with me in places like Chimney Rock, in Abiquiu New Mexico, where Erik Stegman, Executive Director of the Center for Native American Youth, and Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director at the Children & Nature Network, hiked beside me as the sun peeked over the sandstone cliffs.

They’re with me in Minnesota, where Greg Lais has helped tens of thousands of kids get outside through his work with Wilderness Inquiry.

They’re with me in the Rayburn Building and state houses, where they use their passion, energy, and smarts to make sure that the next generation of young people have a special place in nature to call their own.

I’m grateful to call all of these people and so many other partners who are my friends and allies in this critical cause that has become a movement.


Martin LeBlanc