Meet The 2019 #SheAdventures Scholar
From the thousands of entries for this year's #SheAdventures scholarship, we're excited to announce Jasmine Stammes as the winner! The scholarship includes an all-inclusive guided climb of Mt. Rainier with a friend, led by the world-class instructors at International Mountain Guides, as well as a head-to-toe Outdoor Research kit with all the mountaineering essentials.
We have been truly amazed by all the applications, and are psyched about how rad our community of women is. Thank you to everyone who applied to the scholarship. We hope you enjoy getting to know this year's winner—here are six questions with Jasminne Stammes, whom you can find on Instagram @blaakroots.
Can you tell us a little about yourself to start—where are you from, and where do you live now?
For most this question is an easy answer. For me my identity is one that has been shaped by a number of home-lands. I was born in Belgium to a Sierra Leonean father and a Togolese mother. As a child I moved to Sierra Leone with my family. A couple years after our return to Sierra Leone, a civil war displaced us. I would come to live in Togo, Benin, Guinea and Ghana. My family eventually immigrated to the United States, where I grew up in the suburbs of Maryland. In my 20's I moved to North Carolina for graduate school. I fell in love with this sweet state and have made home there since.
What are your passions? What motivates you?
Life for me has always been about reaching fully into things. After surviving two civil wars it is not lost on me that I am experiencing a third chance at life. There are few things I have gone after without passion.
I have a deep love for the written word and the arts. And a better part of my life has been spent writing poetry and dabbling in all manners of creative work. As a young girl it was how I learned to make meaning of a fractured life.
I have a deep passion for the outdoors. I learned to reconnect intentionally with the outdoors later in life. But I have a deep relationship with the natural world that has always soothed me even when I didn't have the language for my experiences. I have become passionate about documenting black ecological narratives. Ones that affirm my own relationship to the natural world.
I am motivated by my people. Communities of color that, despite generations of trauma and inequity, move with honor, creative brilliance, and deep resilience. But most importantly I hold the truth that I am my ancestors wildest dream and as such in the words of my good friend Bam Mendiola, "It is my turn now to be a good ancestor."
Can you share a little about what you do for work?
I have the deep honor of working with predominantly communities of color in rural North Carolina around environmental stewardship, social justice and community economic development initiatives. Most of my work sits at the intersection of public health and conservation. I work with untraditional partners towards ultimately reaching conservation aims. In my work I am able to link the wellness of individuals and community to the wellness of our environment.
What is your background in the outdoors?
A few years ago this question would have been difficult for me. While I grew up amidst mountains, oceans, wooded forests and various landscapes. My interactions were everyday and unintentional. I didn't grow up in a family that camped, hiked, climbed or did dominant narrative activities. Instead I remember days spent lounging at the feet of the Atlantic ocean with the voices of family and the smell of the ocean intermingled with my mothers food. I remember long walks with my father to the nearby woods in my Amercian suburb. I want us to exist in a space that holds these accounts as valuable outdoor experiences. Because while in my recent years I have come to hike, climb, camp and more. My foundation was and will always be those moments.
What are your all-time-favorite, go-to trail snacks? And, also, your favorite post-adventure treat?
My all-time-favorite, go-to trail snacks are mandarins, plantain chips, granola and sugar snap peas.
My favorite post-adventure treat is most definitely a fruit tart. I have an unyielding sweet tooth, and fruit tarts at the end of any adventure is a win to me. The bigger the adventure the bigger the tart!
How does the #SheAdventures trip fit into your larger vision for your life?
I mentioned earlier my passion for collecting black ecological narratives. We exist in a time frame where social media platforms have allowed for the visible challenging of who is and deserves to be in the outdoors. As someone who works for an environmental non-profit I am keenly aware of how deeply communities of color need to enter the dominant narrative in order to be at the helm of decisions deeply affecting their future. This is something I have taken on in my life and have deep commitment to continuing in the future.
The #SheAdventures trip is about being able to challenge dominant narratives that alienate and isolate a community from interacting with the natural world. I hope the #SheAdventures trip is witnessed by the communties I care about. I hope that this immigrant girl whose first love was the ocean is able to climb a mountain. And I hope that in doing this I join a long line of black ecological narratives.