Black Summit Steward, a first for Adirondack club, pushes for POC to connect with nature

October, 2021

She grew up in the Town of Newburgh and by high school had joined her high school’s cross-country team, kickstarting her journey and connection with the outdoors.

Now, Klarisse Torriente is cementing her love of nature in a role she assumed last summer, as the first Black Summit Steward for the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). She hopes to encourage other BIPOC to enjoy the outdoors.

“It was the access to having friends who in their spare time could be in the outdoors,” said Torriente, who is now Albany based and the Diversion Manager at Joseph’s House and Shelter in Troy. “All of these friends were white. I was the only person of color on my cross-country team at that time.”

Stewards educate the public about alpine ecosystems, maintain trails above treeline, and perform scientific research, and have either a volunteer or professional role (Torriente is a volunteer). The ADK’s steward program was established in 1989 as a collaboration between ADK, the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

People of color are not often in leadership positions when it comes to outdoor recreation. At least 79 percent of full-time permanent employees of National Park Service (NPS) are white, while African Americans represent just under 7 percent and Latinos make up 5.6 percent of the NPS’ permanent full-time workforce.

Read the full article in the Albany Times Union.