Love Is King Operation Roam has expanded my leadership locally, nationally, and internationally. I have learned to use my leadership in new arenas. I gained self-confidence, adventure, and the courage to use my voice in conservation spaces.
When I applied to participate, I felt a spiritual call to the opportunity to be outdoors and learn more about outdoor spaces. I had experience in the outdoors, spending time at my grandfather’s farm. My grandfather was a sharecropper who worked until he could pay for his land. As a father of ten, my grandparents taught their children to work the land. My family lineage is part of the land, although I had not participated in the outdoors the way Operation Roam taught me.
Love is King Operation Roam has reconnected me to the land by connecting me to Alaska’s animals, plants, and people. I learned from Operation Roam how to be part of the land in the Arctic. The experience taught me how to travel there, be safe, and advocate for protecting Alaska’s land, people, and animals. Love Is King modeled community well-being and connection by taking me to meet and learn more about the Arctic Village Neets’aii Gwich’in people and how climate changes affect their lives.
My experiences in Operation Roam expanded my conservation leadership locally. Through Love Is King, I supported Senators Wyden and Merkley’s River Democracy Act, legislation to expand the Smith River National Recreation Area by 58,000 acres. In the Shades of Water public service announcement, I share what rivers mean to me and my family. Operation Roam’s participation gave me the courage to speak up, advocate, and participate in conservation as a person of color.
I had the same inclination and drive when I traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the lands, people, and animals on the Hill with Love Is King and the Alaska Wilderness League. I met with national congressional leaders to discuss my experiences in the Arctic and the Arctic Village. I utilized my media reach on my podcast and other social media accounts to acknowledge climate change and conservation.
Being a part of Operation Roam led to opportunities to join the Outdoor Writers Association of America. This membership led to an opportunity to visit to experience the outdoors in Ireland. Another opportunity due to participation in Operation Roam is the honor of being part of the Board of Directors of the Alaska Wilderness League. This non-profit agency works to ensure that Alaska’s wild landscapes and wildlife endure for the future.
Love Is King Operation Roam has exponentially changed my life and enhanced my leadership capacity. It has unlocked untapped potential to protect what needs protecting and speak up for those whose voices may be silenced by oppression. I am proud to be a member and live a legacy of service of Love Is King Operation Roam.