To introduce diverse youth to careers in natural resource conservation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hispanic Access Foundation are announcing a new partnership that will hire college students at national wildlife refuges throughout the Northeast. As part of the Service's Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, the partnership will also expand the agency's connections with Latino communities.
“Wildlife conservation extends beyond habitat protection and species recovery; connecting people with nature is also a critical part of our mission,” said Wendi Weber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director. “By partnering with the Hispanic Access Foundation, an organization that is a leader in promoting a healthy environment and committed to connecting people to what they need, we can connect people to our public lands and offer unique opportunities to young people, the conservation leaders of tomorrow.”
According to the U.S. Census, the Latino population is projected to be 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. Data also indicates the youth segment represents the largest, fastest growing, segment of the Latino population.
"We are pleased to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to support such innovative efforts to engage urban audiences and underrepresented groups in conservation. As the fastest growing segment in the country, we believe it is essential for Latinos to develop the leadership skills and technical knowledge to become strong stewards of our natural resources. This program provides a wonderful opportunity to engage diverse participants in issues that are of great importance to our Latino community and to our nation,” said Maite Arce, CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation.
Under the new partnership, seven students will receive mentorship and support through the Hispanic Access Foundation, while working at national wildlife refuges that serve urban areas. Most of the refuges are also working with urban wildlife refuge partnerships, helping to lead programs and opportunities that connect city residents to the outdoors in urban areas. The refuges that are part of the program include:
- John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia;
- Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, which serves the greater New York City metropolitan area;
- Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, which serves Baltimore and Washington, D.C.;
- Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which serves Providence;
- Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts, which serves the greater Boston area
- Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in New England, which serves urban areas across four states including Springfield, Mass.;
- Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut, which serves New Haven, Conn.