Meet first term Wild Keeper, Alexandra! Alexandra is nomadic, traveling full-time in her vintage RV. She shares that there is "no better way to experience the outdoors! I’ve loved being able to explore the United States with my husband and our dogs, learning about the land that we are on, cleaning it up, and experiencing new and different places. I love nothing more than being outside."
When we asked how she was introduced to outdoor spaces, she reflected, "I had a very turbulent upbringing so as as I got older I began making my life as peaceful as possible. This involved tons of time outdoors, in the ocean, on the mountains, and now traveling full-time and spending 85% of my time outdoors paddle boarding, walking my dogs, hiking, and lots and lots of cleaning things up." She said she prefers experiencing the outdoors through walking and hiking with her dogs. Alexandra said, "I’m super lucky to have three incredible dogs who love the outdoors just as much (if not more than) me."
When we asked if she has experienced any struggles or challenges in regards to the outdoor industry, she shared, "No, my husband and I are both queer, I am Jewish, and he is Japanese. Because of our skin we have the privilege of not facing challenges outdoors. I am incredibly passionate about diversity outside, however, it’s something that is so important to myself and should be important to everybody. Nature does not discriminate, the outdoors are for everyone."
She expanded on this by sharing that, "diversity in the outdoors is incredibly important, especially with the knowledge that none of the land in the United States is ours. We’re all, always, on stolen Native land. Learning about the land we are on, geotagging that land using the Native Lands app, and also speaking outwardly and openly about whose land we are on and how we can participate in the Land Back movement is incredibly important.
Some ways that we can promote diversity in the outdoors are to teach about the full history of the American outdoors, make everybody feel welcome, increase economic accessibility to the outdoors (did you know that the average price of a weeklong trip to Yellowstone for a family of 4 is $5,441?), and of course create and promote diversity policies in the outdoors. Amongst many other things. One way that I learn is to follow Black and Indigenous outdoor leaders and other people of color to learn about their experiences and how we can all do better at increasing equality and diversity outdoors, especially in the van life community."
Alexandra also shared with us that her most memorable outdoor experience so far has been exploring the Salt Flats in Utah. "I had always wanted to go but to experience that vast, empty, other worldly landscape was just absolutely incredible," she replied. "This summer we camped for about two months on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I can say, without a doubt, that the UP is America’s best kept secret. And, Wyoming - just in general. Wyoming, forever. I have loved being able to go places I never thought of and to just absolutely fall in love."
Learn more about Alexandra and Wild Keeping below!
Keep Nature Wild: What is a trail snack you can't go without?
Alexandra: A banana! Honestly, bananas are my number one go-to snack outside.
KNW: Which would you prefer between mountains, desert or forests?
What is your favorite thing about being a Wild Keeper?
I already pick up a massive amount of trash wherever we go and post about it, but the wild keeper program allows me to reach further and bring more people into the experience, to spread the word, and hopefully to encourage others to do more outside. Leave it better than you found it!
What has picking up trash outdoors done for you?
It allows me to feel closer to nature. I feel like so many things are done for other people but this allows me to do something for everybody and everything. We’re helping the land, animals, people, the entire world. Even if it’s just picking up trash in one space.
Roughly how many pounds do you think you've picked up since you became a Wild Keeper?
I’m not 100% sure (it’s only been a few days) since I pick things up *all the time* my pockets are always filled with trash. Just this week I said to my husband, “There’s something weird in my pocket,” and pulled out a bunch of glass I must have picked up somewhere. Picking up trash is a lifestyle
What goals do you have for this year? (or beyond?)
This year I plan to travel all over the United States, coast to coast. On that journey I plan to grow as a person, as a family, and as a community. I plan to pack out other people’s trash, I plan to clean up this country one campsite at a time, and I plan to help others. I am rooted in activism and I plan to take that further than ever before.