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Wild Journal

Wilderness Works fostering diversity

Championing Diversity in National Parks

Wilderness Works believes in providing nature-based experiential learning to promote childhood development and well being. We also believe that there is a deficit in access to the natural world for communities of color.
We’re profiling a man whose career and life stands as model for equity and access for all Americans to experience nature.

Shelton Johnson, a beloved ranger at Yosemite National Park, has dedicated his career to fostering diversity in America’s national parks. Born in Detroit in 1958, his love for nature blossomed early. After studying English and serving in the Peace Corps, he began his ranger career path in Yellowstone, eventually becoming a park ranger in 1987. Shelton would go on to spend 30 years as park ranger at the crown jewel of National Park Service, Yosemite National Park. 

Johnson became a national figure after his prominent role in Ken Burns’ documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” He is a passionate advocate for connecting minorities, particularly African Americans, with the natural world. This feature in Men’s Health provides background for the work Shelton is doing in addition to his service as a park ranger.

Johnson’s charisma and storytelling talents have made him a role model and an inspiration. He tirelessly works to ensure everyone feels welcome in national parks, America’s democratic treasures. Though eligible to retire, Johnson remains dedicated to sharing his love for the outdoors and advocating for a more inclusive national park experience.

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