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ADI Emerging Stewards Initiative

Core Principles of the ADI Emerging Stewards Initiative

The ADI Emerging Stewards Initiative is a collaborative framework based on Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s concept of critical consciousness, in which those who are oppressed should act on the roots of the oppression they face (Freire 1970). Working with such populations using a bi-directional approach eliminates (or greatly diminishes) the possibility of paternalistic practices that often reinforce colonialism and seek to save “victims” of oppression (Chowdhury 2009; Escobar 1995; Mutua 2002).

The Emerging Stewards Initiative facilitates four programs:

  1. The Bidirectional Exchange for K12 participants

  2. The Alternate Spring Break for University/College participants

  3. Claiming Space for Tourism Professionals and BIPOC Outdoor Enthusiast

  4. BIPOC Guardian for K12 to Ranger School Pipeline

Bi-directional Exchange Program

The Bi-directional Student Exchange matches K-12 students from New York City with their peers from schools in the Adirondack Park region. The students spend a week learning about the park, each other and what it means to be an agent of change.  Working together with ADI and camp staff to develop their cultural consciousness. Throughout the experience, students, their partners, parents/guardians will have the opportunity to intentionally engage innovative and transformational ideas, practices, and activities geared towards  these foundational experiences to build sustainable relationships for long-term investment and care for the Adirondack Park.

In 2021, 110 Students from several K12 Bronx-area and several Adirondack North Country schools will have the opportunity to participate in this year’s program. The 2021 ADI Bidirectional Program cohort will include students from both Bronx-area and Adirondack region schools.  K12 participants from both communities will be partnered based on their grade, interest, and background. Partners will spend the week getting to know each other, sharing knowledges and acting as co-conspirators, cultural educators, that centers their experiences as a compendium of critical knowledges aimed at transforming relationships from the ground up. This program mobilizes youth as actors of culture change.  Participants and their adult chaperones will be housed at historic great camps in the Adirondacks.



As an intervention focused on younger learners, the bi-directional youth exchange offers the following opportunities:

  1. Strengthens ethical partnership between Adirondack youth and their peers from NYC schools

  2. Supports learning from each other avoiding the risk of promoting a false teacher/student paradigm

  3. Can offer opportunities for knowledge and skill acquisition not available in learner’s home community

  4. Provides exposure to different modes of cultural consciousness

  5. Empowers children to be agents of change in their communities

  6. Encourages opportunities for novel approaches to centering equity and justice that places the children's lived experiences as expert knowledge from which to build understanding across differences

  7. Visiting children provide host institution with insights and alternate approaches to incorporating DEI into their organizational culture

  8. Cultivate an entire generation of ADK stewards from BIPOC communities across New York State who are invested in the sustainability and longevity of the Park

  9. Provide opportunities for cross-cultural interaction and knowledge-building between peers of NYC & ADK school-aged children

  10. Facilitate teacher/worker exchanges between partnering ADK campsites and recreational organizations and NYC participant schools

  11. Function as a bridge to other ADI programs such as K12 to Ranger School Pipeline with SUNY ESF

  12. Supports formation of new collaborations in research and education

  13. Improves understanding of ADK culture at partner site and thereby can improve the experience of future learners traveling to the ADK Park

Alternative Spring Break

Older students are engaged through programs such as the Potsdam Alternative Spring Break wherein students from BIPOC communities in NY colleges and universities utilize their spring break to explore the Adirondacks, meet with local college students and focus collective minds on the intersections of racial and environmental justice. These conservationists of color will be the future stewards of the Adirondack park and beyond.

ADKX Professional Exchange Program

The ADKX Professional Exchange program welcomes excursion groups from BIPOC communities; introducing participants to the Adirondacks in ways that are safe, affirming and promote belonging. Individuals and groups come to learn about what the Adirondacks have to offer in terms of recreation and promote positive experiences with their networks to build tourism. 

K12 Ranger School Pipeline

The K12 Ranger School Pipeline program is being developed to address the lack of ranger diversity in New York's Department of Conservation.