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Jourdan Keith, Founder and Director

Jourdan Keith is the Founder and Director of Urban Wilderness Project because she believes that connecting to the natural world is critical to restoring communities, reducing domestic violence, building relationships, and acknowledging and healing historical injustices.

Qualifications and Experience

Jourdan Imani Keith is the founder and director of Urban Wilderness Project, celebrating 10 years of providing environmentally and culturally based programs rooted in social change. Ms. Keith works in the environmental field as a writer, public speaker, educator, urban forest restoration specialist, trail construction crew and wilderness leader bringing 15 years of experience to the planning and implementation of projects that involve a broad base of constituents. Adept at working with federal, municipal, academic and community organizations she has developed mutually beneficial cooperative agreements to address social and economic barriers to equity in land use with the National Parks Service and others. Keith's work as a literary artist, environmental educator, community organizer and social justice advocate informs her ongoing development of the R U An Endangered Species?™ workshop curriculum, its' action campaigns and community conversation series. 

Her commitment to equity and meaningful involvement is the focus of her work for healthy bodies and healthy waterways through the Human Estuaries campaign which is featured in her TEDx TALK and YES! Magazine. The campaign educates and empowers youth who are disproportionately impacted by environmental health risks and exposures linking the pollution in Seattle’s Puget Sound to their community’s risks and exposures. Seattle Public Library’s first naturalist-in-residence and Seattle’s Poet Populist Emeritus, she is serving her second term as a Commissioner on the Board of Seattle Parks and Recreation which advises the Mayor and City Council and on Seattle’s Levy Oversight Committee which is responsible for the equitable distribution and access to green spaces, as well as other land use and water management issues. She studied English at Temple University, Restoration Ecology at University of Washington and Marine Ecology through Washington State University.

Poet, Storyteller, and Teaching Artist

Jourdan Keith has been awarded fellowships from Santa Fe Science Writing workshop, VONA (Voices of Our Nations), Hedgebrook Women Writers Retreat, Jack Straw Writer’s Program and received funding from Artist Trust, 4Culture and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs for her play, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Seattle Poet Populist Emerita and Seattle Public Library's first Naturalist-in-Residence, she is a storyteller, naturalist and educator.

A student of Sonia Sanchez, her work blends the textures of political, personal and natural landscapes to offer voices from the margins of American lives. Coyote Autumn, an excerpt from her memoir, is included in the travel writing anthology Something to Declare from University of Wisconsin press. Her essay, Human Estuaries which is based on her TEDx Talk appears in the fall 2012 YES! Magazine.

She is the founder and director of Urban Wilderness Project, providing storytelling, environmental education, and wilderness service-learning programs rooted in social change. Her vision as a literary artist, environmentalist and social justice advocate informs her ongoing development of the R U An Endangered Species?™ workshop curriculum and its' action campaigns. Her engagements include public speaking, teaching and leading community workshops for institutions from the University of Washington's Burke Museum, Seattle Bioneers, Seattle GreenFest to Highline Community College.

Outdoor Leadership

Jourdan Keith is the founder and director of Urban Wilderness Project and a co-founder of Urban Wilderness Foundation. A 2001 NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) graduate, she is committed to increasing access to the outdoors youth and adults. She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder by WMA. She has led 7 backcountry wilderness trips for high school students and numerous day hikes for middle school and adult participants. A former Recreation Supervisor in Yellowstone National Park, she is comfortable creating safe, enjoyable outdoor experiences for all ages.

Naturalist and Environmental Educator

Jourdan Keith served as the Lead Outdoor Environmental Educator for YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island where developed curriculum, taught classes, created activities, and planned lessons, in map and compass, wilderness preparedness, sustainable living, forest, marine and fresh water ecology. It was here that she began to incorporate storytelling as a teaching tool.

She facilitated the climbing wall, low and high ropes courses for 3rd-8th graders and drug rehabilitation and at-risk urban youth.

She developed materials and curriculum for outdoor living skills and sustainable living programs and adapted the environmental science program to suit Home School students in K-6th grades.

Her work as an Environmental Specialist for the 7 Teepees Program in California gave her an opportunity to develop a program for Oakland youth traveling to the forest for the first time. Again, she incorporated storytelling and exploration as a way for reluctant campers to discover the natural world.

Restoration and Trailwork Experience

Jourdan's passion for building and healing human communities and ecological communities go hand in hand. She has worked to restore the West Duwamish Greenbelt as a naturalist and lead through the University of Washington's Restoration Ecology Network, Urban Wilderness Project and the Nature Consortium. She brings her knowledge of ecosystems and certification as a Washington Native Plant Steward to the project planning and maintenance of restoration sites.

She combines her work skills training from both the US Forest Service and Student Conservation Association to assess usability and construction needs.

Onion Carrillo

OnionConstantly attempting to learn and to educate through art, Wendy (Onion) Carrillo is dedicated to creating sustainable change and developing a community environment with healthy relationships. The relationships she's already sustained span from national to international, creating a foundation of support for her art.

She opened up on the scene in Seattle by Hosting an event called "Ladies First" 2000, that focused on putting the voices of women first. She has preformed spoken word and done workshops at National incite conferences in New York, Chicago and Santa Barbara. She has also preformed for M.E.Ch.A. at regional conferences. Onion has also been blessed with the opportunity to perform in Cuba for the students of the University of Havana in 2003 with the Every Women's Delegation. Onion has performed locally in Seattle at Sisterfire and later shared the stage with Sirens Echo for International Women's Day.

In 2004 she was again blessed with the opportunity to tour, with her favorite Puerto Rican Hip Hop / Punk band RICANSTRUCTION. For over a year Onion also worked with the Female Hip Hop Alliance in Olympia, where she from time to time could be caught studying at The Evergreen State College. Onion is currently working on an anthology Letters to a young woman in Hip Hop, containing submissions from women in Hip Hop all over the world, to encourage younger women to keep their heads up. She desires to be genuinely supported as an artist by the community and loved, in turn she tries to constantly send love back the best ways she knows how... through art.

Su Theida

SuSu Theida was a crew member for the Young Adult Conservation Corps in 1979 and has been working as a conservation service professional ever since. A certified outdoor leader, through the Wilderness Education Association at North County Community College, Su was formerly the Regional Director for the SCA (Student Conservation Association).

She has also worked as a Program Manager, Technical Instructor for trail construction and restoration, Environmental Educator, Trail Crew Leader/Foreman and Backcountry Ranger. Currently Su is the Programs Director at EarthCorps.

She is also a mom and re-evaluation counseling teacher. Her vision for the world is a place where children can grow up in healthy, nurturing environs of all kinds - physical, emotional, social, mental, spiritual, etc.

Rick Davis

RickRick was born and raised in New York City. He pursued environmental studies at Southern Vermont College, then earned his B.A. in Environmental Studies from California State University of Hayward. Rick holds a certificate from the University of Washington in Wetland Science & Management and is a Certified Interpretive Guide. In Rick's environmental career he has taught to a diverse population of folks ranging in ages from 5 to 75.

Contact Us
Jourdan I. Keith, Founder & Director
206-579-5848 Cell

P.O. Box 18874
Seattle, WA 98118

© 2004, Jourdan I. Keith

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