As my first month is coming to an end, l am reflecting on all the experiences and events that have brought me to this moment. My interest in public lands started around the age of seven when my family and I would attend ranger talks during our camping trips to National Parks. I admired those in uniform educating visitors about the night sky, California condors, and bear safety. My love for open spaces grew with every camping trip.
While in college I volunteered at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve because I wanted to help protect the wildflowers that inspire people to travel for hours just to see those orange rolling hills. Little did I know that I would be on the other side organizing volunteer events and developing relationships with partners here at the Kaibab National Forest as the Volunteer and Partnership Coordinator. I still feel new to my position, but I also learned so much at the same time. Last month I attended several trainings about inclusion, equity, bias, wilderness stewardship, Leave No Trace, and diversity. There is still a lot of work to be done in the US Forest Service regarding diversity and inclusion within the agency, but I am impressed by the amount of resources that are being offered to its employees.
These trainings are teaching me how I can make my environment more welcoming. I want to actively make every volunteer feel like they belong in this space no matter how “outdoorsy” they feel. Aside from my official position, I want to inspire people to connect with nature. That connection is relative to every individual, for some it might be a backpacking trip to a wilderness area, while for others it is a walk around a popular local park. I hope to amplify that message during Latino Conservation Week by breaking down preconceived notions of what “outdoorsy” looks like. I want to remind everyone that anyone can be part of the environmental movement.
Agency: U.S Forest Service
Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)
Location: Kaibab National Forest