Last week the HumaNature staff was in Jackson, Wyoming to promote the podcast at the third annual SHIFT Festival. According to founder and director Christian Beckwith, SHIFT explores “the intersection of outdoor recreation and conservation. And what we’re trying to do is leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains.”

SHIFT seeks to achieve common goals in various areas of ecology—food, agriculture, policy, recreation. Naturally, we thought this was a good group of people to peddle our podcast to. We met some wonderfully enthusiastic new listeners at our booth and we were thrilled to hear engaging guest speakers like writer David Quammen and photographer Charlie Hamilton James (whose work forms the upcoming May 2016 issue of National Geographic—more on that below), food journalist Mark Bittman, and Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard.

But the festival wasn’t just about big names. “I think the thing that lit up SHIFT the most this year were the youth delegates,” Beckwith told us. “We tapped into this network of organizations around the country that are cultivating that next generation of stewards, because without that cultivation, we are in a lot of trouble. 85% of all Americans live in urban areas. There’s nature deficit disorder that’s causing this great gap between kids and the outdoors. So they don’t know what there is to lose, so they don’t know what there is to protect. And without that connection in place, there is no constituency of stewards for tomorrow.”

Beckwith explained that this year’s festival focused on three themes: conservation leadership, outdoor access, and responsible recreation. To that end, the festival promoted the SHIFT Pledge: six principals for advancing outdoor recreation and conservation, developed by outdoor recreationists, land managers, and conservation advocates.



I will:

  • FIGHT for our public lands and waters
  • PRACTICE responsible recreation that’s inclusive and informed by a conservation ethic
  • MINIMIZE my impacts and my conflicts with other users
  • CONTRIBUTE solutions to land-management, conservation and recreation problems
  • RESPECT land-management rules and regulations
  • SUPPORT long-term funding solutions that protect the environment and advance responsible recreation

By supporting the Principles for Outdoor Recreation and Conservation, I help protect our public lands and waters.


“Once we get out there,” asked Beckwith, “how do we minimize and mitigate our impacts and also our conflicts with other users?”

As for the May 2016 issue of National Geographic, which focuses on Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding ecosystem, HumaNature host Caroline Ballard had a chance to talk with the issue’s author and one of the photographers.

Click the links to hear the conversations with David Quammen and Charlie Hamilton James.

– Micah Schweizer & Ryan Oberhelman

%d bloggers like this: