As Jodie Adams climbed a rolling hillside in Yellowstone National Park last summer, the late-June sun warmed wildflowers and sagebrush around her. She and her fellow hikers were part of the first-ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ)-specific retreat organized by the park’s nonprofit partner in education and fundraising, Yellowstone Forever.

The program was deemed a resounding success by the participants, and, according to Stephen Abatiell, program manager for Yellowstone Forever field seminars, the organization promises to spearhead similar programming in the future. He, along with course instructors Hobie Hare and Kai West, initiated the idea and developed the itinerary.

The course couldn’t have come at a better time. Nationwide, the National Park Service (NPS) is striving to welcome a new and increasingly diverse audience. It’s an effort well-known to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) — of which Adams, a former parks director, is a past president. NRPA’s mission of improving communities with parks and recreation focuses on its three pillars: Health and Wellness, Social Equity and Conservation.

Read the full article about being "out" in the great outdoors by Chelsea DeWeese at