Elyse (she/her) has worn many hats in the outdoor industry and education worlds. Since 2006 she has taken thousands of youth and adults on outdoor adventures all over North America, and during these adventures the interrogation of equity, access and privilege played a central role. Over the years, Elyse has worked tirelessly to reduce outdoor access barriers for all members of the LGBTQ community. This has resulted in dozens of publications, presentations, interviews, trainingsand program partnerships aimed at increasing queer visibility and further complicating the narrative of who goes outside and how. Elyse’s work has appeared in places such as the Rutledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, in print and person at industry events such as Outdoor Retailer, in Outside Magazine and in March of 2018 Elyse was named a “Top Woman in Conservation and Environmental Justice” by ECODiversity Magazine. Elyse is also the co-organizer of the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Outside of her work, Elyse is known for her sense of humor best conveyed through perfectly timed message GIFs, and in her [rare] free time she can be found paddling through the central Salish Sea.
OTA is elated to have Erik Zepeda-Flores (he/him, they/them) joining the team as our California Program Coordinator. Erik comes to the field of outdoor education with a B.A. in Geography/Environmental Studies from UCLA. Through this lens, he developed a desire to address the social and environmental injustices that affect communities of color and to improve LGBTQ representation in outdoor spaces. In his second year of AmeriCorps service with Education Outside, he teaches outdoor science in an elementary school garden connecting his students to the natural world and empowering them to be stewards of the Earth. He is thrilled to help expand OTA's mission in the San Francisco Bay Area and wholeheartedly believes in the power of nature to transform the lives of young people.
Erik will be your point of contact for all things Youth Program related in California and you can reach him at email@example.com.