Congrats to Jeresneyka Rose for joining The Trust for Public Land as a GOCO fellow this August! The GOCO Fellowship Program supports positions at our partner organizations to prepare young people for careers in the outdoors. GOCO fellows gain experience in the fields of conservation, outdoor recreation, and stewardship while growing a professional skill set to apply to future endeavors.

Tell us a little about yourself. Or what did you do before you began the fellowship?

My name is Jeresneyka (Jeh-reh-Snay-Kah). I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and I moved to Colorado at the age of 10 when my father was stationed here. I am a visual artist and community advocate. Aside from championing efforts of art accessibility, social justice and health equity for my community in Southeast Colorado Springs, Colorado, I mainly freelanced art gigs throughout the nation before beginning the fellowship.

panamaWhat’s been one of the best experiences of your life so far?

It’s really hard to choose, as I am grateful for life and have had many amazing experiences. I will say that the best experiences of my life are usually those spent traveling and getting acquainted with people and cultures that are different from my own. I love learning and exploring the unknown. I will mention that I am slightly biased though, as my favorite place to travel is Panama. Both of my parents were born in Panama, and the vast majority of my family still lives there. Every time I visit, I feel like I’ve discovered a new part of myself through learning and experiencing more of my roots.

What do you most hope to learn through the fellowship experience?

I hope to learn more about environmental justice, land protection, and the outdoors in general. I am rather new to exploring the outdoors. Growing up in the Southeast, we had a heavy emphasis on traditional sports, such as basketball, football, and softball, but had a lack of introduction and access to other outdoor recreation. The first time I went on a hike was in my early 20’s. I didn’t even know there was paddle boarding and kayaking at Memorial Park until last year. I am truly eager to learn a lot more of what the outdoors consists of, so I can bring that back to my community and empower and encourage people to explore the outdoors. The most intriguing part of this fellowship with The Trust for Public Land is how an idea can turn into a tangible project. I have had the pleasure to have been in preliminary meetings, later contracted and now the Core Fellow for the Southeast during the Panorama Park renovation. It’s been so interesting to see the work behind the scenes. I am so intrigued by the entire process from inception to completion. Also, I love the diversity of projects TPL works on, and I am so eager to jump right in.

How do you think the outdoors contributes to communities or to individuals’ quality of life?

The outdoors greatly contributes to health equity and quality of life. Traditionally, parks in the Southeast are often under-utilized because they lack seating, shade, recreation, accessibility, etc. In my community, residents are expected to live up to 16 years less than other neighboring communities in Colorado Springs. When the outdoors is cared for and utilized by residents, it can drastically improve physical health and mental health, and in turn, possibly add years to life expectancy.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside?

My favorite thing to do outdoors is to just be… to exist… to relax. I love going to the park to have lunch and read, do yoga, or lay in my hammock. Being able to sit and listen to the wind blow while the sun sets is next-level relaxation. On the other extreme, I’ve been on an adventure kick. As aforementioned, I didn’t begin to indulge in outdoor recreation until I was in my 20’s. Most recently, I have been zip lining, tubing, snowmobiling, and jet skiing. I’m currently seeking my next adventure lol.

Got a life dream to share?

I have two big life dreams. One is to open an arts-based community center in Southeast Colorado Springs, CO.  Growing up, there was a heavy sports emphasis but not many resources for the arts. I want this community center to have any and all arts, ranging from painting to ballet to cello lessons. My second life dream is to gain knowledge and experience in a plethora of realms dealing with humanities, so I can go back to Panama and help my family, friends, and their entire communities have a better quality of life.