I was super excited to start my position with the U.S. Forest Service as a Youth and Latinx Engagement Coordinator. I got to Leadville a week before I needed to attend a Diversity and Inclusion workshop, so that I can get a taste of what the community has been working on and meet key people I am going to be engaging with. Fast forward two months later and I am now working at the Leadville Ranger District and learning so much. My supervisor here works with Special Uses permits, so I learn all about the work that goes into building relationships with community members and businesses who would like to work with the National Forest, specifically the San Isabel National Forest.
In my community of Leadville, there is a large Latinx population and the Forest Service wanted to see how we could better serve that community and provide them with resources to engage with the outdoors. My job thus far has been to get to know the community, meet community organizations and partake in events to help make the bond between them and the U.S. Forest Service stronger. I have attended other events such as the Rockies Rock Summer Camp sessions, community/town hall meetings and going to our sister districts to see their communities. All of this has helped and prepared me to throw my first event for the community, a picnic and potluck for Latino Conservation Week at Turquoise Lake.
I had a couple of families come out including very cute dogs, to partake in an afternoon by the lake to learn about Leave No Trace Ethics and enjoy the outdoor recreational areas around them. Considering how small the population of Leadville is (roughly 3,000 people), I think the event was successful because I was told that it is a struggle to get community members out to events. I think I have been making an impact thus far by building a bridge between the language barrier between the Latinx (or Spanish speaking) community and the Forest Service. I am helping make bilingual materials and programs more available, and help make people aware that the National forest they live in or next to is theirs to make use of. I am also helping to make aware to those working in this office the issues that this community face when trying to access the resources, whether it be maps, permits, information, etc. I am excited that I have gotten to find my place in this community, and am helping to make it more diverse and inclusive so far. These two months have been full of many adventures and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here has in store for me.