BLACK VOICES
01/27/2016 05:51 pm ET

This Woman Wants To Encourage More Black People To Embrace The Outdoors

"There's something so dynamic about a forest environment," she said.

One woman wants to inspire more black people to participate in outdoor activities, so she created a network where "black people and nature meet."

Rue Mapp is the founder of Outdoor Afro, an organization that encourages black people to embrace the outdoors and all the activities it has to offer.

"I found that in the nature experiences I had, I was far too often the only one who looked like me," Mapp said in a video by Facebook Stories. "So I decided to do something about it." 

 The nationwide network was created in 2009 and started out as a Facebook group Mapp made to help connect black nature-lovers everywhere. The social media platform and its offerings has become a useful tool for many organizations. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that now one billion people are using Facebook Groups every month. 

"Outdoor Afro is a perfect example of how people can use Facebook groups to build relationships around the things they care about," Alex Deve, a product manager on Facebook Groups, said in a statement to HuffPost. 

Since its launch, Outdoor Afro has grown significantly and now has over a dozen chapters across the country with more than 13,000 members. According to a 2015 report released by the Outdoor Foundation, 70 percent of people who participated in outdoor activities last year were white. Only 10 percent were black. 

"National park visitorship, especially in more remote areas, can be as low as 1 percent African Americans," Mapp said. "I just felt that there were these opportunities and lessons I was learning that more people could benefit from." 

Outdoor Afro has been able to reconnect black people with nature. It encourages black people to invest more in the planet by inviting them on outings such as nature trails and teaches them important lessons on conservation. Mapp said the work she is committed to has evolved beyond her wildest dreams. 

"At the end of the day, this is about love and connecting [with] one another," she said. "Connection is strength and the chance to be better, bigger, stronger and sustainable."

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