Katina Grays: A Day in the Life of the Trail Conference
Trail Conference Role: Member Club RepresentativeOutdoor Afro, a national non-profit that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature. Katina is passionate about building an inclusive community for people to connect together outdoors and remember self-care.
“We organize events to give people the adventures they’re looking for,” Katina explains. “It’s all about getting people together and engaged in an outdoor experience within the city and beyond.” The New York City community of Outdoor Afro joined the Trail Conference as a member club in early 2017; Katina has led several hikes with the Trail Conference, and is always up for bringing outdoor adventure—from backpacking to archery—to her members. Katina is very much a day hiker; she likes to hit the trailhead, hike, and go home. But this summer, Katina organized an Outdoor Afro camping weekend at AMC’s Harriman Outdoor Center and a camping class with REI to learn new skills.
She believes in creating cultural outdoor experiences that are accessible— 95% of their events are reachable by public transit—as well as meaningful: Outdoor Afro has organized healing hikes after social injustice crises, including a walk through the African Burial Ground National Monument in Lower Manhattan. Outdoor Afro weaves relevant history and connects culture into the outdoor experiences they organize. Katina incorporates trivia questions and history facts into each hike. By personalizing the experience and drawing the connections between culture, people, and place, the outdoors can begin to be welcoming and feel more like home. “My favorite part of my work,” Katina says, “is building a deep and restorative community where we can connect within nature to give people a chance to heal and reflect or just go out and have some fun.”