August '20

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20 • RV PRO • August 2020 rv-pro.com Jessica Wahl Turner Executive Director OUTDOOR RECREATION ROUNDTABLE Jessica Wahl Turner has been an avid outdoorsperson her entire life. "I grew up in a very outdoor household in upstate New York. We were always going camping, hiking, biking, kayaking or skiing. My dad hunted and fished, so that was always a part of my life," says Turner. "I didn't know it could be a career until I went to grad school." It was there she took an internship at the U.S. Department of the Interior and learned about federal parks and opportunities in land management and recreation. Turner soon found she could take her energy and passion for getting people outside and pro- viding access to the outdoors into a career. She was tapped to become a lobbyist for the Outdoor Industry Association, focused on gear and apparel. Turner ran the D.C. government affairs office working to get bills passed and the outdoor industry recognized for its many con- tributions. It was in this role she met her first mentor, Ann Krcik. "She was the senior vice president at the North Face. She was a true outdoors person and had spent an intensive amount of time in the industry. She took me under her wing, and to this day I don't know why, but she protected me from a lot," says Turner. "She believed in me. I was so green I needed her endorsement. She never left me out. She brought me into conversations. I was very endeared and grateful for her leadership." A big milestone in Turner's career was being asked to be the executive director for the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. Although she's received numerous leadership awards and been featured in various industry publications, one of her proudest accomplishments is her participation in passing an act that allowed the government to truly view the recreation industry as a real sector. "Since then, we've been getting valuable economic data that we all use. We've never had those numbers before as an industry. We'd never been able to compare apples-to-apples to other indus- tries. Now we get annual reports including GDP and a job report for the outdoor recreation economy. That data has really put us on the map as a sector that needs its own support and should be taken really seriously," she says. While she's had strong female role models, coming from politics, she's used to fields where males traditionally dominate the landscape. "I don't know anything different. Things have changed a lot in the past decade. I might not have been in this role if it was 10 years ago. My board is mostly male, except for maybe two females of a 26-person board. My board members are some of my most empowering advocates and people I look up to the most. That says something. I feel empowered by them, trusted and certainly heard. I appreciate strong male leadership," Turner says. Turner says strong men continue to shape the way she leads, and she tries to shape female leadership as females come into the industry. "We need to focus on female-to-female relationships where we can make each other feel more welcome and lift one another up," she says. "The stronger women feel coming in and more supported the more change we will see. The fact that this is a male-dominated industry isn't changing anytime soon." When it comes to what she does, Turner says there are some long and hard days, but she loves what she does and that's what makes the hard times worth it. "At the end of the day, I'm helping to make people's lives better – and there's not a lot of industries you can say that about. The industry creates healthy people, relationships and connections to nature. It's a space I'll stay in as long as they'll have me." Profiles of Remarkable Women ENERGY ®

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