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APEX Distinguished Service Award winner Audrey Peterman was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation at their 87 th annual conference in Lake Tahoe June 22, for helping to connect the mainstream conservation sector and policymakers with environmental justice communities.

“Her work bridges a critical gap by ensuring that those most affected by climate change and environmental degradation are engaged in policymaking,” said NWF Vice President Adrienne Hollis. JD, PHD.

The Federation has expanded its focus from protecting wildlife that proliferates in national parks and forests to include protecting people in urban communities.

Mrs. Peterman and her husband Frank first saw America’s “Crown Jewel” national parks on a 12,500-mile road trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the Atlantic Coast to Kalaloch campgrounds on the shores of the Pacific Coast in 1995.   The astounding natural, undeveloped beauty of places such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Sequoia and Yellowstone National Parks inspired them so much that they became determined to publicize these sacred spaces to all Americans. The overwhelming whiteness of the visitors and employees (they counted four brown faces in 14 parks) caused them to focus on engaging diverse communities with the parks.

BM&T’s APEX Award recognized Mrs. Peterman’s efforts to raise the profile of the national parks as epic destinations for meetings and tourism. As a member of the National Parks Tourism Council, she helped publicize destinations such as the 4-Diamond Historic Ahwahnee Hotel in the Yosemite Valley (recently downgraded to 3-diamond in 2020) at Yosemite National Park and facilities in multiple other national parks including Shenandoah, Sequoia, Zion and Olympic.

“If more meeting planners take advantage of these spectacular destinations to host weddings, family reunions, conferences and retreats, we could easily break the color barrier in these hallowed spaces,” she affirms. “Our national parks contain the natural, cultural and historic legacy of our country, and they are managed and supported by everyone’s taxes. It’s only fair that everyone should benefit from them.”

Seeing the other side of the picture – extreme environmental degradation in the places mostly occupied by Black and Brown Americans, the couple dedicated themselves to raising the issue of justice to leaders in the “green” movement. In 2022 Mrs. Peterman was presented with The National Parks Conservation Association’s Centennial Leader award for “helping prepare the national parks for their second century of service to the American people.”

The Petermans are authors of multiple books including the travel guide “Our True Nature: Finding A Zest for Life in the National Park System.” Her memoir, “ From My Jamaican Gully to the World and Back” tells the exciting story of her journey from modest roots growing up in the Jamaican countryside, through her adventures in the US, and as a returning resident in her native land.

“Many people in the diaspora dream of going back to the land of their birth, and as I show in the book it’s not only doable, but it can be the greatest feeling in the world. Now I can bring what I learned in the US to help the managers of Jamaica’s only national park – the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site – publicize this treasure to more of our countrymen and women while attracting more eco-visitors internationally,” she enthuses.

From My Jamaican Gully to the World and Back” also deals with the urgent issue of climate change and what must be done to address it. The book is available at’ Amazon and