Our organization is founded on natural history AND cultural history. We must consider both of these things together, and each are inextricable from the other. We may have arrived at this point by taking separate paths but your understanding of natural history cannot exclude the unfairness that has been in place for 100s of years at the hands of white colonization. We are suffering from systemic racism and because of that many of our outdoor spaces are unsafe for marginalized communities.
We embrace differences and need to listen and learn. We are doing our homework and reading a lot. We want to amplify voices of marginalized communities by supporting cultural affinity groups, and donate to their organizations.
It is important for prospective members to know we are pushing the edges of “how this has been” and what it means to be a Master Naturalist. We ask that both existing members and prospective members be open to having hard conversations in trainings, workshops, and with other members. If that is beyond your comfort zone then this might not be the program for you right now, as it may not have been the program for others in the past. While it is very much about learning about our natural and cultural history, equity and consideration of others who have been marginalized is very much grounded in those topics.
We believe that the outdoors should be inclusive and accessible to everyone. We believe in making outdoor spaces not only accessible but safe for everyone.
We recognize that people often don’t participate in outdoor programs because they are perceived as or are unsafe for persons of color and other marginalized groups who have been excluded or ignored. We commit to ensuring our programs are places these community members feel welcomed and safe when participating. This issue is deeper and broader than the politics of Left vs Right, although it is often branded as such. Access to outdoor recreation is a human rights and cultural history issue as much as it is a natural history issue. The two cannot be separated given the history of systemic racism in the United States.
We work to change the culture of outdoor recreation in Arizona to one that can be enjoyed by ALL regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status, gender, gender identity or physical capabilities.
We pledge to not only locate our programs in underserved neighborhoods and make them affordable; we will go further to change our culture within, recognizing programs such as ours have to date consisted of a membership of homogenous demographics, primarily white, middle and upper class, retired people.
We will ONLY work with and support organizations that DO NOT practice discrimination on any level, and that actively strive to make all programs places where everyone can feel safe.
All of us at Arizona Master Naturalists, especially those who have benefited from privilege, will speak up when we see injustice, take the lead by getting out of the way, join with those impacted, and ensure that every hike we take, every program we share, and every bird walk we enjoy is done with empathy, compassion, and consideration for others who may not have the luxury of enjoying the outdoors safely.
We are doing a lot of listening, reading, and learning about how we have been complicit in systemic injustice. There is much work to be done and always will be improvements to make. We can and will always do better and are in this work for the long haul, beyond the current attention to these pressing issues.
We have identified that our membership is consistent with certain demographics who have the ability and luxury to participate in such volunteer programs and activities. Moving a training program to an underrepresented or underserved community does not solve inclusivity issues. Thus, we are reflecting on who can and does participate, removing barriers to participation, understanding our own biases, and educating our membership about the exclusive culture created through years of business as usual.
Our members are participating in a working group with other natural and cultural history organizations designed to learn how we can do better. We are designing programs and train-the-trainer materials that are reflective of a variety of cultural perspectives. We commit to making the culture of our training course inviting to those from ALL cultures.
We ensure that all of us with privilege who participate in the Master Naturalist training course and lead public programs check our privilege, stand up, speak out, and take action when we see something not right.
Through curriculum design and learning we:
We listen and collaborate. We recognize and credit members of BIPOC organizations for the work they do for natural and cultural history. We donate to, and support, outdoor affinity groups for BIPOC and recommend our members do the same.
We will continue to grow and learn, and regularly check our work and ourselves to ensure that we are welcoming people from all communities, and making space for BIPOCs to lead.
All AZMNA activities are conducted in a manner that assures equal opportunity for all, based solely on individual merit and fitness of applicants and employees, related to specific jobs and without regard race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political affiliation, or pregnancy or other basis protected by law.
A Land Acknowledgment, presented on a website, at the beginning of a class, public event, or gathering. It is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and ONE step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth.
We acknowledge and honor the original homelands of all Indigenous people upon which our many communities in Arizona have been established. We recognize they have stewarded this land in since time immemorial. We remember their connection to this region and give thanks for the opportunity to live, work, learn and gather on their traditional homeland. We actively seek to build relationships with Indigenous communities to learn more about this place. To find out which native or Indigenous land you are on, please visit this website to learn more: https://native-land.ca/. Remember, acknowledging Indigenous communities is only the first step in building meaningful relationships. We must work to recognize the damage done by colonialism and ensure we do not uphold harmful practice.