SHIFT Festival: The Intersection of Conservation, Culture and Adventure

CREDIT: David J SwiftJackson Hole, Wyoming will play host to an innovative, unique, and ground breaking environmental conference later this year when the second annual SHIFT Festival takes place there October 7-10. The conference will feature a host of impressive speakers, panel discussions, workshops, and other activities that focus heavily on conservation efforts, and the impact that they have on the future of outdoor adventure.

Amongst the topics that will be discussed heavily at SHIFT this year will be outdoor access, responsible recreation, and environmental impact mitigation. Those are all major issues that communities like Jackson are facing as they strive to maintain their relationship with the outdoor settings that are vital to their economic success. A ski town like Jackson attracts thousands of visitors each year, but climate change could have a real, and lasting, impact on the future of the town, as well as the people that live there. The goal is to find a way to balance the relationship between people and the environment, while still maintaining the economic health and viability of the city too.

Additionally, conservation leadership and youth engagement are two other major topics of discussion on the table for SHIFT 2015 as well. The festival will discuss how luminaries in the outdoor industry can take a more active role in pushing for impactful conservation efforts, while also finding ways to spur young people to become more connected with the natural world around them too. The industry is seeing a dramatic drop-off of the number of youths who are engaging in outdoor activities, and this is making it more difficult to get them to connect with efforts to protect the environment as well. Mobilizing the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts to take an active role in conservation efforts is critical for the future of our planet.

A typical day at SHIFT involves attendees taking part in lectures, small group discussions, and classroom learning activities, most of which are focused around the central themes of the conference itself. In the evenings, they’ll gather to enjoy fine food, adventure and outdoor films, and insightful keynote addresses that focus on that day’s activities. The atmosphere is one that fosters learning and the sharing of ideas, making the experience one that can have a lasting impact on the people that attend, and the communities in which they live.

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One of the keynote speakers scheduled to appear at SHIFT this year is none other than Chris Johns, the Chief Content Officer at the National Geographic Society. In that role, Johns oversees the direction of the editorial content across all of Nat Geo’s diverse media platforms. He’ll speak to attendees about national parks in general, but Yellowstone National Park in particular. As the world’s first national park, Yellowstone holds a revered place amongst outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, and Johns will talk about the past, present, and future of what he calls “the wild heart of North America.”

In addition to Johns, other notable speakers will include Peter Metcalfe, the CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, and Luther Probst, the founder of the Sonoran Institute and chair of the Outdoor Alliance, two organizations that have played instrumental roles in conservations efforts across the planet.

The rest of the SHIFT schedule is still being assembled but should be announced soon. You can learn more about the festival, and its goals, on its official website at shiftjh.org. On the site you’ll not only discover more about the event, and its history, but also how you can attend and lend your voice to this very important conversation.

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