Making a Career of Getting People Outdoors
Thirty-year-old outdoor professional Brittany Leavitt has always been a nature lover.
“As a child, I would spend summers at my grandma’s farm. I was always surrounded by gardening and the woods, going outside in the snow... My mom, grandmother, and sister were my first [outdoor] supporters; they taught me ways of connecting to the dirt,” she says.
Today Brittany leads groups on nature trips, teaches backpacking and climbing, works with outdoor advocacy groups, and educates preschoolers at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
As she recalls, her love of nature flourished during her time in Girl Scouts; she was a Brownie, Junior, and Cadette.
“I went whitewater rafting for the first time, and I learned how to camp and read maps—all thanks to Girl Scouts.”
Still, after getting a degree in early childhood education, it took Brittany several years to find her way to the world of outdoor leadership. In 2014 she began volunteering with Outdoor Afro, a national network that inspires Black Americans to spend time in nature, and in years following she joined organizations with similar goals, including Brown Girls Climb and Color the Crag, which highlights the diversity of climbers across the country.
“It’s an incredible experience leading unique events with Outdoor Afro,” she says. “From birding to hiking to picnics, we do it all!”
Brittany led a backpacking trip that traced Harriet Tubman’s steps over a 41-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail through Maryland, and one of her most recent events with Outdoor Afro was being a part of the expedition team to Kilimanjaro in 2018.
“We were the first African American team to climb the free standing mountain,” she says proudly.
One of her biggest goals? To encourage others to follow in her footsteps.
“I always tell people that if they’re interested in being outdoor instructors, they can teach and explain how to camp or hike if they’re not an expert in the technical skills of, say, rafting or rock climbing.”
For Brittany, spending quality time in nature will always be a priority.
“I live in the city, which I love,” she says of Baltimore. “But being able to drive 60 miles out and find peace and quiet is important.”
So what’s next for Brittany? She says she’s considering starting her own outdoor-related business.
“I know it will involve outdoor activities and programming. And whatever I do, I will be partnering with other outdoor organizations. [The particulars are] fuzzy at the moment, but I’m excited that something new is in the works and can’t wait to see what the future brings.”
Girl Scouts of the USA and The North Face have partnered to develop 12 new Outdoor High-Adventure badges to inspire the next generation of female explorers. Brittany Leavitt is featured in the Snow or Climbing Adventure badge booklet for Seniors.