Our series on Outdoor Allies profiles rad outdoor advocates and their approaches to protecting public lands. Up next is the reigning queen of outdoor social media, Katie Boué, who is Content Producer for the Outdoor Industry Association and the genius behind the #ElPrezatElCap hashtag that took over social media a few months back. Here, Katie shares what's more important than a stunning landscape on instagram and the power of storytelling to protect public lands.
Tell us a little bit about what you like to do outside and some of your favorite places to go.
My answer to questions about my favorite places is always the same: I just can’t answer that–unless I’m allowed to cheat and claim ‘public lands’ are my favorite places to go. When I’m on the road, public lands are my home, my playground, my mobile office, my kitchen. I do admittedly have a particularly soft spot for destinations like Utah’s deserts, Chattanooga’s climbing crags, and anything involving the coast. While playing on public lands, I love to climb, trail run, paddle, ride bikes–anything that gets me sweaty.
How would you define advocacy?
In the outdoors, I think that advocacy boils down to identifying causes that matter to you, and getting active in supporting them. It’s about using your voice to do good, taking action, taking a stand. Whether it’s a close-to-home issue, or national initiatives, anyone who enjoys the outdoors ought to be an outdoorist advocate.
What are the big issues you care about that you’re working on right now?
The scope of big issues for the outdoor industry to tackle is never-ending, but spending the summer on the road while essentially living on public lands has really opened my eyes to how crucial it is to engage and activate the outdoor community to become active stewards to the land. The industry is succeeding tremendously in our mission to get people outside, and now it’s time to turn those outdoorists into loud, powerful advocates. I’m also really intrigued by sustainability issues like responsible sourcing, product end of life, and bringing the industry together to collaborate and raise standards.
Your superpower seems to be using social media and connecting with young people to translate their passion for the outdoors into actual action. Do you have any advice for how to use social media to inspire people to make change?
Social media is such a powerful tool–especially when used for advocacy. The digital space makes it easy for anyone to become influential, and there’s opportunity now for us to start making sure the content we produce truly reflects our values. Don’t just post drool-worthy landscape shots; tell the story of your public lands, your passion to keep it public, your experiences seeing things like trash on the trails, your feelings of gratitude whenever you see a plaque that says “funded by LWCF”. Figure out how you want to contribute to the outdoor community in a meaningful way, and commit yourself to telling that story.
What do you think stops people from getting involved in advocacy work? What’s the easiest way to get started if you’re intimidated by activism?
Getting started as an outdoorist advocate is absolutely intimidating, for everyone. You want to share your passion, take on the issues that matter to you–but what happens if you say the wrong thing or make a mistake? The politics behind advocacy can get intense, but it’s all about learning and growing. Get educated, be informed, but don’t hesitate to use your voice to fight for the issues that really get your blood flowing.
Favorite piece of gear right now: My trad rack. I’ve been collecting one new cam from every city I visit this summer–best road trip souvenir collection ever.
Current favorite hashtag: I’m forever a loyalist to #outdoorist
Next destination on your bucket list: Cuba! I’m heading there in January with my family to explore my heritage and do some climbing.
Thank you so much, Katie! You inspire us. Check out more of Katie's adventures in the outdoors and advocacy here. All photos courtesy of Katie Boué.