15 highlights from the 15th annual Park Advocacy Day

Last month, we celebrated our 15th annual Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento. In honor of both the anniversary and all the advocates who joined us to support state parks, here are 15 highlights from the 15th annual Park Advocacy Day:

#1 Park advocates

119 park advocates from throughout California, representing nearly 50 organizations. We couldn’t start our highlight list in any other way, because park advocates are what Park Advocacy Day is all about.

For a handful of those 119 advocates, it was their 15th Park Advocacy Day…

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Including advocates Randy Widera, Barbara Lincoln and Jarrell Jackman, who’ve attended every single Park Advocacy Day.

…And for some it was their first…

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Like Nicolette, seated at the front left of this photo with her team, who’s been volunteering in state parks since she was in the 7th grade.

…Including our new executive director, Rachel Norton.

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As Rachel welcomed everyone, she shared why she wanted to join this group of park advocates as CSPF’s executive director: “The commitment to creating equitable park access, and to supporting and partnering with like-minded organizations committed to park access – that’s what drew me most to join CSPF right now. CSPF has always been working to make parks open for all Californians, to make park experiences available to all Californians, and to secure support for parks from all Californians.”

(Learn more)

Some advocates got a head start on their legislative meetings.

Advocates from California Outdoor Engagement Coalition had an impromptu legislative meeting on the train ride to Sacramento.

Senator pro Tempore Kevin de León set the tone for how important advocacy is.

“My name is Kevin de León, and I am the leader of a legislative body that upholds the Constitution of the United States,” he introduced himself. “Everyone is looking toward California. That’s no hyperbole. That’s no exaggeration. Many global leaders are looking to what happens in California. We can demonstrate to the world what our values are. That’s the strength of our state – the diversity, the inclusivity.”

We heard so many personal stories about parks, from Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher…

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“I’m really excited to be here,” she started. “My passion for our state parks, I think of it as outside my job. Anyone who follows me on social media will see that this is regular part of our lives. Where else can you as a mom cook over a stove and watch your kids learn to paddle out? It is part of my family now and it was park of my family growing up.”

…and Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation Lisa Mangat…

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“Everyone could stand up and share a personal story about why you’re here,” said Mangat. And she shared a bit of her own: “Way before I became parks director, [my father] kind of laid this foundation, and used the great outdoors to teach his daughters the kind of lessons you can only learn through the great outdoors.”

…and Myrian Solis Coronel, vice chair of the California State Park and Recreation Commission.

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Coronel’s multi-media presentation showed how parks intersect with different aspects of her life, and shared the stories of other women in REI’s “Force of Nature” video.

Advocates kept history alive with period dress!

While advocacy and legislation was focused on the future of California state parks, some advocates dressed in period clothing, reminding us our parks preserve our state’s history as well.

We petitioned the governor…

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We delivered more than 8,000 petitions from members and park advocates who couldn’t join us to Governor Jerry Brown, thanking him for his past leadership on recent funding for parks and asking him to support legislation that would allow California voters to support a new park bond.

…and met with 110 legislative offices!

We crammed 110 legislative meetings into one afternoon to discuss important state park issues including improving access to park facilities and amenities, maintaining access and protections for park lands and monuments, and increasing affordable access to California’s coast and all state parks. Some advocates, like Fadi, got an extra behind-the-scenes feel for the legislative process.

Youth advocates shared their experiences.

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Leaders from Outdoor Outreach and Sonoma Ecology Center Enviroleaders talked about how important it is for youth to have access to parks. Check out this video of Nate Howard of Movement BE, an Outdoor Outreach partner, during the briefing:

We honored Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia

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Assemblymember Garcia was recognized for his work promoting and advocating for California’s state parks. “Our state parks serve as one of the cornerstones of our cultural and historical communities,” he said. “[They] protect and preserve an unparalleled collection of culturally and environmentally sensitive features and ancient habitats.”

(Learn more)

And lastly, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this selfie is at least worth it’s own item on this list

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Assemblymember Ash Kalra takes a selfie with (L to R) Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, and CSPF Executive Director Rachel Norton

Want to learn more about the 15th annual Park Advocacy Day? Read the recap on our website, or check out our Storify for social media posts from the day.

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