Happy New Year!!

A young moose pops up to watch some people along a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. As a resident of Estes Park, just outside of Rocky, this national park became my escape during Covid. It also became an easy place to escape to for the growing population along the Front Range during 2020
A young moose pops up to watch some people along a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. As a resident of Estes Park, just outside of Rocky, this national park became my escape during Covid. It also became an easy place to escape to for the growing population along the Front Range during 2020

Story and photos by Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

Wow, it felt great to say that. 2020 was a very long year but we made it through the challenges and hopefully came out with new knowledge and perspective.

Now let’s look forward to a new year with new opportunities.

Loss and Hope

I recently listened to the book, A Promised Land by former President Barack Obama. In it he talked a lot about loss and hope.

We all have experienced loss of various forms. This past year brought the loss of freedom to travel, freedom to see family, and freedom to visit our favorite places.

If you are like me, you have lost people dear to you. One of the most important losses for me was Aeric, my partner of 15 years. When he passed unexpectedly in 2012, I had no idea how hard loss was to navigate, but it did teach me that life goes on, albeit in a different form. That hard lesson definitely prepared me for the challenges of 2020.

While listening to Obama’s book, I recalled the time Aeric and I went to see former President Obama speak on the campaign trail. He talked a lot about protecting the environment, and the environment is something Aeric taught me so much about in our time together.

As I continue to navigate this world without Aeric, I still apply so much of what he taught me about the environment through my writing and photography. Through my loss of Aeric, I found hope to inspire others to get out there and be advocates for our environment.

That hope is something that drives me in participating in organizations like NANPA, where our mission is to use the art and science of nature photography as a medium of communication, nature appreciation and environmental protection.

I think a lot of us can say, no matter what your political views, interests, religion, cultural background, or ethnicity, that hope is a great word to describe 2021.

This is Aeric and our huskies, Nanook and Jasmine, on one of the many hikes we did near our home in Colorado. Aeric taught me that ponderosa pine trees smell like vanilla on this hike.
This is Aeric and our huskies, Nanook and Jasmine, on one of the many hikes we did near our home in Colorado. Aeric taught me that ponderosa pine trees smell like vanilla on this hike.

The First Ever Virtual Summit

NANPA is focused on the same positive message of hope and looking toward the future.

With those goals in mind, I am excited to see us launch our first ever completely virtual Summit.

Although Covid may have forced our hand to make this change, I am thrilled that our team came up with a robust program for people to participate—no matter where they live. The Summit—held from April 29-30, 2021—will feature keynote speakers, lots of learning opportunities, virtual networking events, and much more.

Set those dates aside and stay tuned for more info later this month.

Ethical Photography

Start the New Year with a renewed goal to be an ethical photographer.

Being in nature became one of the few ways people could escape the confines of their home during the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders in 2020.

Across the U.S., trails, parks, refuges and other outdoor public spaces saw huge increases in use. As an example, in my home state of Colorado, an employee at a state park said camping reservations were up 130% over 2019.

As a result, the environment took a hit with increased traffic on trails, improper parking, and a disturbing increase in trash and human waste in public open spaces.

As a NANPA member, strive to be an ethical photographer. Encourage others to be ethical when in the outdoors. We offer several pieces of information that you can use to talk about ethics in the field.

Let’s build hope that people can be stewards of the outdoors.

Photography and writing are how I encourage people to be stewards for the environment. This photo of a trout was part of an article I produced about the second largest egg-producing hatchery in Colorado. Their single goal is to improve Colorado's native fish population.
Photography and writing are how I encourage people to be stewards for the environment. This photo of a trout was part of an article I produced about the second largest egg-producing hatchery in Colorado. Their single goal is to improve Colorado’s native fish population.

Fired up. Ready to go.

This was another phrase I heard throughout Obama’s book. He originally heard it said by Edith Childs, a Greenwood County Council member in South Carolina. Obama made it a part of his campaign in 2008.

Starting a new year is a great time to fire it up.

So are you fired up? Are you ready to go? I hope so. We have a great year planned!

Keep letting our membership and marketing teams know about your projects. There may be ways to share the news, like writing a blog or being interviewed on the podcast.

Do you have ideas for events or topics you want to learn more about? Reach out to us through our contact form

“We cannot walk alone.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Let’s stay positive. We are in this together.

Two female members in the field looking at images