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Jessica Rivas is proof that anyone could fall in love with the outdoors at any time. She grew up in Hollywood and didn’t set foot in a National Park until she applied for the Yosemite Leadership Program during college. It was a program that would change her life and now her contribution is changing Yosemite. Jessica is a full-time park ranger and helps children experience and learn about Yosemite through Every Kid in the Park, an outdoors youth program initiated by President Obama.

Jessica is almost in tears when she speaks about Yosemite and what her experience there means. The praise from both her fellow rangers makes it obvious—there is nothing Jessica would rather do. But she isn’t keeping that love for herself. Jessica pays it forward so that new people can see our natural wonders. Maybe you can’t run off to join the NPS, but there are small steps to be more like Jessica Rivas:

  • Donate to or volunteer for a non-profit organization such as the Yosemite Conservancy.
  • Take friends who have never hiked or camped on your next outdoors adventure.
  • Be an example for Leave No Trace to help protect our wilderness.
  • Get involved with Every Kid in the Park and help the young ones experience our parks and forests.
  • Join a local hiking/camping group in Facebook and share stories/pictures/tips. I love seeing what members post on Arizona Hiking.
  • Just be an overall ambassador for what you already know is an incredible experience. People are simply drawn to Jessica’s passion for our parks.

And if the footage in that video hasn’t convinced you already, you should absolutely plan a trip to Yosemite National Park immediately.

Video by Compass Coalition and Parks Project via Outside Magazine.

Feature photo by The Inertia.