Yvon Chouinard leads a discussion during the 2015 SHIFT Festival. This year’s SHIFT, which started Tuesday, explores the link between time outside and public health as a key for public lands

Living in Jackson Hole, we know that spending time in the great outdoors is good for our health. This year, the SHIFT Festival will explore “Nature Rx,” the connection between time spent outside and public health, as a key for public lands protection.

The SHIFT Festival (Shaping How we Invest for Tomorrow) is put on each year by the Center for Jackson Hole, a nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen the coalition of interests dedicated to protecting public lands. Inspiration for this year’s theme came from 2017’s keynote speaker, Jon Jarvis, who served as director of the National Park Service from 2009 to 2017.

“Post-SHIFT, he said, ‘You know, if you really want to have some impact, you should focus on Nature Rx,’” said Christian Beckwith, the festival’s executive director. “‘Yes, sir,’ we said, and proceeded accordingly.”

Outdoor recreation is more than just a fun activity. It’s a $350 billion industry that supports hundreds of thousands of Americans. And being outside is scientifically proven to improve health.

“At this year’s SHIFT, our community has the opportunity to take a leadership role in a radical new idea for their protection: They are key to public health,” Beckwith said.

“What happens to our power to champion public lands when outdoor recreation aligns with health care, the largest economic sector in America, to highlight public health as an ecosystem service? What happens when outdoor rec, conservation, land management and health care rally around the fact that nature is medicine?”

From Tuesday through Thursday, SHIFT will host more than 50 speakers — from doctors and researchers to photographers and activists — to discuss the myriad ways nature can benefit health. Most importantly, the festival brings together some of the brightest, most passionate people in conservation to inspire and equip the public to become better stewards of the land.

An all-access pass costs $455, but tickets for individual events start at $20. Tickets and a full schedule of events can be found at

Contact Julie Kukral at 732-7062, or @JHNGscene.

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