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This story is part of Fix’s Outdoors Issue, which explores how we build connections to nature, why those connections matter, and how equitable access to outside spaces is a vital climate solution.

Alex Kim’s background isn’t typical among his peers in outdoor recreation. He didn’t grow up rafting each summer, mountain biking after school, or camping with friends — activities long considered unofficial prerequisites to work in the field. 

As a first-generation Korean American kid in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Kim’s childhood was marked by vastly different experiences, such as helping his mother translate citizenship paperwork, spending afternoons swimming at the YMCA, and playing basketball with kids from the neighborhood. 

Nothing about Kim’s childhood suggested he would become an avid outdoors enthusiast until he arrived in Montana in December 2014, the last stop on a months-long, cross-country roadtrip. He was 23 and had just spent four years in the Army, and after so regimented a lifestyle, the idea of living out of his Subaru while exploring wide-open spaces was appealing. He made it as far west as... Read more

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