CSU grad publishes paper on LGBTQ+ inclusion in outdoor recreation

Mo Lundin
Mo Lundin

When Mo Lundin completed their undergraduate honors thesis two years ago, the Colorado State University graduate said they didn’t expect it would one day become the basis for an article in an academic journal.

So, it was a pleasant surprise when Lundin, who graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree from the Warner College of Natural Resources, learned that the journal Ecological Applications accepted their article, which focuses on making outdoor field experiences more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Lundin, who now lives in Alaska and works for an outdoor recreation company. “We just got word a few weeks ago that it was accepted for publication. It’s a little different than my original thesis, but it’s really cool to be published.”

Lundin collaborated with Assistant Professor Sara Petrita Bombaci in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology on the paper, which involved surveying outdoor recreation leaders to highlight practices currently being used to support LGBTQ+ inclusion and accessibility. A publication date for the paper is in the works, Bombaci said.

The survey found that some outdoor organizations have adopted actions to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion, including using gender-inclusive language, gender-neutral gear, gender-inclusive facilities, and developing LGBTQ+ competency among leadership and participants. However, the authors noted the findings were limited due to the small sample size, suggesting that many outdoor programs do not incorporate LGBTQ+ inclusive practices into their field experiences.

“The big takeaway is that LGBTQ+ people should be included,” Lundin said. “There are a lot of different aspects involved to make that happen as well as some big cultural changes that need to happen.”

As for recommendations, the authors said outdoor experience providers could further support LGBTQ+ inclusion by involving participants in the development of LGBTQ+ friendly community guidelines, by considering how outdoor activities and fieldwork may pose special challenges to LGBTQ+ participants, and by ensuring that medical responders are trained to use LGBTQ+ sensitive practices.

Lundin, who graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic, explained that their thesis and journal article wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Bombaci as well as Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Instructor Ethan Billingsley and Andy Nelson of the CSU Outdoor Program.

Bombaci said that it’s not very common for undergraduate students to publish a journal article in the natural resources, especially if they are publishing as a first author, as in Lundin’s case. She explained that Lundin was really thoughtful in the way they developed an innovative research project.

“Mo’s passion for outdoor recreation, and work for the CSU Outdoor Program leading outdoor trips and clinics, including trips specifically catered to LGBTQ+ students at CSU, gave them a valuable perspective for doing research on LGBTQ+ inclusion in outdoor experiences,” Bombaci said. “Mo is an innovator in the outdoor industry and a talented researcher, and I’m eager to see where they will go. I have no doubt that they will continue to advance inclusion in the outdoor community and industry throughout their career.”

While two years removed from CSU, Lundin said experiences such as the Outdoor Program had a significant impact on their career working as a hiking and backpacking guide. The CSU Outdoor Program provides trips, clinics and events aimed at providing students with the skills to experience outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Colorado.

“Working for the Outdoor Program and being a part of Warner College tied together nicely,” they said. “I love being outside and helping people experience the world around them. I’m so glad I was able to go to CSU. It worked out really well.”