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3rd Annual SHIFT Festival to be Held Oct. 7-10

August 13, 2015

Media Contact

Serese Kudar/SHIFT


Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Outdoor access, impact mitigation, responsible recreation, conservation leadership, and youth engagement are the topics that will be under the microscope at this year’s SHIFT Festival.

Held each October in the spectacular valley of Jackson Hole, SHIFT is an annual festival that celebrates the future of conservation with food, film, speakers, workshops and outdoor adventure. From October 7-10, the 2015 Festival will feature an in-depth exploration of the opportunities and challenges at the intersection of conservation and outdoor recreation, with a goal of leveraging outdoor recreation for conservation gains.

“SHIFT is the only gathering of its kind that unites outdoor recreationalists, land managers and conservation advocates around the common goal of protecting North America’s public lands and waters,” says SHIFT Festival Director Christian Beckwith. This year’s event will feature two days of panels, small-group discussions and innovative awards that build on the intersection of five groups:

  • The Outdoor Industry

  • Outdoor Recreation Enthusiasts

  • Conservation Advocates

  • Public Land Managers

  • The Leadership of GEMS (Gateways to Environments of Major Significance)

With an emphasis on GEMS (communities like Jackson Hole that depend on the health of their environment for economic and cultural success) as laboratories for communities striving to live in balance with nature, leaders in conservation, wilderness advocacy, and outdoor recreation will help to explore the creation of stronger, more enduring, and more united coalitions in order to help usher in a new generations of conservation champions.

2015 SHIFT will feature several notable and influential speakers and attendees, including:

National Geographic Society’s Chris Johns: SHIFT Keynote Speaker

Chris Johns, the National Geographic Society’s Chief Content Officer, will speak at the 2015 SHIFT Festival on Thursday, October 8, at the Center for the Arts.

A renowned photographer with extensive experience in parks around the world, Johns will speak about the National Park system, with a focus on Yellowstone, the first national park in the world and the sole subject of the May 2016 issue of National Geographic Magazine.

“Many of the issues faced by parks around the world can be found in Yellowstone,” he explained. “Yellowstone is a world treasure; it’s the wild heart of North America. I want to talk about what that means today, and what it will mean tomorrow.”

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the inception of which was influenced in no small part by the National Geographic Society. To mark the anniversary, National Geographic will focus its 2016 efforts on National Parks throughout the year. “Our coverage of the Centennial Anniversary of the National Park Service across media platforms is the largest editorial initiative we’ve done in our 127-year history,” according to Johns.

The editorial emphasis on Yellowstone was inspired in part by a conversation that National Geographic writer David Quammen had with Dave Hallac, division chief of The Yellowstone Center for Resources.

Hallac told Quammen, “I’m afraid we’re losing this place.”

“When someone of Hallac’s stature says that, it gets my attention,” said Johns. “I’ve spent a big part of my life in protected places—in Alaska, in Africa, in parks all over the world. The notion that ‘we’re losing this place’ is consistent.”

“I’d like to talk about why Hallac would say that, and what it means. He didn’t say ‘we’ve lost it’; he said, ‘we’re in danger of losing it.’ We need to think about what that means, and what we need to do to avoid losing these places.”

Johns’ presentation will extend beyond the park boundaries to include the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact mid-latitude temperate ecosystems in the world.

Mark Bittman – Keynote Speaker/People’s Banquet

American food journalist, author, and columnist for the New York Times Mark Bittman will be the keynote speaker at the uber popular People’s Banquet on Friday, October 9, at Jackson’s Center for the Arts.

Mr. Bittman, who explores industrial agriculture as both a health risk and a major driver of climate change, is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling How to Cook Everything and Vegan Before 6 P.M. He has been the recipient of International Association of Culinary Professionals, Julia Child and James Beard awards for his writing.

In the Emmy-award winning Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously, Mr. Bittman investigates the impact of climate change on weather events such as Superstorm Sandy, and the release of methane gas, a climate change accelerator, via fracking. As his bio in the series notes, “There is no one like Mark Bittman, who has been writing about food and cooking—and changing the way Americans eat—since 1980…. Bittman’s core messages—that food and things related have the power to make or break not only our personal health, but that of the planet—are increasingly accepted and broadcast widely.”

Considered the “foodie event of the year,” the People’s Banquet pairs local chefs with local farmers, cheese makers, bakers and brewers to create small plates sourced from local ingredients. The 2015 People’s Banquet celebrates Vertical Harvest, a Wyoming-based agri-business that will enhance the local economy by operating year-round to sell fresh, locally grown produce to the community through multiple venues at a competitive, consistent price.

The evening will begin with cocktails and hor d’ouevres, followed by a presentation, at 6 p.m., by Bittman.

“Climate change is the overarching context for everything we do at SHIFT,” says  Beckwith. “Mark Bittman connects what we eat to our long-term viability on this planet. His presentation will be provocative, and sure to spark conversations at the dinner that follows.”

For a full list of event speakers, click here.

Additional highlights at this year’s SHIFT Festival:

First Annual Outdoor Blogger Summit

Blogs for Brands, the industry-leading network of outdoor journalists, photographers, videographers, and designers that provides content commerce solutions for brands, will host the first Outdoor Blogger Summit (OBS) in conjunction with this year’s SHIFT Summit.

OBS will share the secrets of the blogging trade—including how to drive more traffic, work with brands, sell more sponsorships and grow social media—while SHIFT focuses on advancing on-the-ground solutions that leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains.

The two events (SHIFT and OBS) will also share programming and facilities, introducing bloggers to content generators in the outdoor space as well as to leading issues of the day.

OBS will be an exclusive affair, with eight nationally recognized bloggers and only sixteen openings for participants. Most of the openings are being filled by invitation. OBS participants will have the opportunity to network with SHIFT attendees and speakers while learning the internet marketing tactics that drive revenue for both brands and bloggers.

More information about OBS may be found here.


One of SHIFT’s central objectives this year is to showcase inspirational, effective work currently being done at the community level. The 2015 SHIFT Awards are designed to recognize innovative, impactful, and replicable work currently making a difference to communities and public lands around North America.

One winner from each of the following categories will be selected: Non-Profit Leadership; Public Land Management Innovation; Business Leadership; Adventure Athlete; and Youth Leadership. Then, one initiative, selected from the five 2015 SHIFT Award winners via a vote by the audience at the SHIFT Summit, will receive the $10,000 SHIFT Forward Award to amplify the positive impacts of its work.

The nomination period is currently open, and will close on August 31. Nominations may be made via this form. Self nominations are welcome. Nominees will have demonstrated exemplary leadership in one or more of the three themes from the 2015 SHIFT Summit: outdoor access, responsible recreation, and/or conservation leadership.

The winner will be announced at the 2015 SHIFT Festival.

“Whether it is supporting the next generation of conservation leadership, engaging the recreation community in a critical habitat restoration project, or resolving a conflict between user groups, these awards are designed to recognize innovative, impactful, and replicable initiatives that make a difference to communities and public lands around North America,” added Beckwith.

For a complete 2015 SHIFT schedule, click here.

More information about 2015 SHIFT may be found at For tickets, click here.

SHIFT…where conservation meets adventure with food, film, speakers, workshops and outdoor adventure.