What: SHIFT Speaks Conservation Speaker Series
When: Wednesday, July 24 2013, 7:00pm
Where: St. John’s Chapel, Jackson WY
How much: Free

Organizers of the SHIFT Festival are pleased to announce the first speaker in the summer-long SHIFT Speaks speaker series. Juan Martinez is a galvanizing leader in the field of encouraging youth leadership in nature and conservation.

A proud product of south central Los Angeles, Juan Martinez is the director of the Natural Leaders Network of the Children & Nature Network. His passion to empower individuals and youth led him to direct the Sierra Club’s first environmental justice youth leadership academy in Los Angeles. He is also a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

In 2006, Martinez, who is included in the book “Hispanics Living Green,” was a delegate to the Latino Congreso. In 2009, he introduced the Department of the Interior’s Ken Salazar at Powershift in Washington, DC, and he has been invited by the White House to attend the National Forum on Clean Energy Economy. He dedicates his energy and free time to grassroots campaigns that empower healthy communities, curb nature deficit disorder, and create garden space in the city of L.A.

“Part of our goal with SHIFT is to approach conservation from new angles,” says SHIFT director Christian Beckwith. “With SHIFT Speaks, we want to activate unexpected and atypical spaces and align them with provocative speakers.”

“Coming from his background in one of the toughest urban neighborhoods in the U.S., Juan sees conservation differently than most Jackson residents do. He’s the perfect, forward- thinking person to kick off the summer speaker series—and the St. John’s Chapel is a unique and unconventional place for him to talk. What audiences will experience is the serenity and hope that both speaker and venue convey.”

Though Martinez recently moved to Jackson, his connection to the community runs deep. As a high school student, he joined a two-week scholarship trip to Wyoming’s Teton Science Schools.

“Ten years later, I still can’t find words to describe the first moment I saw those mountains rising up from the valley,” Martinez recalls. “Watching bison, seeing a sky full of stars, and hiking through that scenery was overwhelming.”

Now an Ambassador with North Face, Martinez climbed the Grand Teton with Conrad Anker in 2009. Martinez speaks with authority from his own experience on the powerful impact nature can have in a young person’s life. “When kids who have very little really experience the power of the great outdoors, it can change their whole lives.”

SHIFT Speaks is a speaker series featuring notable leaders and cultural figures with ties to Jackson Hole. The series, which will be held July through September 2013, in the run-up to the first SHIFT Festival in October, will engage the local community in shaping what the SHIFT Festival could and should become.