SHIFTjh: Michelle Piñon

Who knew you could find 
pan dulce in Wyoming?  

Amidst towering mountains and quivering aspen, I got my hands on the most delicious concha I’ve had in years. After a day's worth of conference proceedings, the warm pan in my hand felt incredible. It felt like a little sliver of home in an unfamiliar place.

In many ways, that chilly morning spent outside of the panaderia served as a sort of metaphor for the week’s events. Attending the SHIFT Summit with the Natural Leaders Network and Latino Outdoors allowed me to explore the issues facing the environmental movement while building community with other young leaders. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference sessions, and found profound spiritual nourishment while breaking bread (pan) with other youth delegates in such a breathtaking place.

To give a small sampling of what that week encompassed, I:

  • Encountered a massive elk crossing the road late at night
  • Braved the frosty morning air to catch sunrise views of the Tetons
  • Excitedly dug into a mountain of nachos at Signal Mountain Lodge
  • Attempted to somersault on grassy fields in between conference breaks

I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to have joined the the Natural Leaders Network crew on this magical journey to Wyoming. Attending the SHIFT conference allowed me to build valuable relationships with many of the country's leading conservationists and influential people in the outdoor recreation world.

I have renewed faith in my ability to leverage this networking as I move forward in my own work to protect the waters of my community and the nation. Since returning to Seattle, I have built on that networking by reconnecting with influential community figures here in Seattle and will work to help local leaders do the same!

I feel eternally indebted to Juan Martinez for welcoming our crew of rambunctious kids to a place that has so profoundly changed his own life, a place that has now added to my story as well. Thanks for the opportunity, thanks for the pan.


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