19 Jun Aventura, Casita!
This week was HUGE! It was a successful week, but most importantly, it was inspiring and emotional. I have dived right into my Community Engagement Plan. To start off, I will explain a little bit about what the community engagement plan is, what is its purpose and where it is heading.
The community engagement plan consists of researching and assembling best practices for engaging the Hispanic community to encourage and raise stewardship awareness.
The purpose of the community engagement plan is to learn how to work together towards a better future for the Chesapeake Bay.
The community engagement plan will benefit both park visitors and staff members. We want to make sure we are interacting and better serving our Spanish-speaking visitors. This plan will help staff learn about the community and it will also allow park visitors learn about the wonders of the Bay.
So, with that being said, I must work on developing a community engagement plan FOR Maryland, FROM California. How exactly am I doing that, you ask? Well as my mother always says, “¡Todo se puede!”
Since I am not able to engage with the Hispanic community in Maryland at the moment, I decided to reach out to National Parks, State Parks, and many different organizations within CA that have already had successful engagement with the Hispanic community.
I made a massive list of potential California partners that can guide me and advise me on my community engagement plan and sent out about 20 emails in less than an hour.
First on my list, Yosemite. You might have guessed this if you know me very well! I contacted YNP and luckily, in a few days I was on a video call with Laura Goforth, Branch Chief of Education and Community Engagement for Yosemite!
Turns out Laura has made a huge break though with her own engagement plan “Aventura Yosemite.” I asked her questions about her experience, what worked, what didn’t work! Let me tell you, it was inspiring! Yosemite is special to me and I was so happy to hear about the amazing things her staff is doing to welcome us, educate us, and engage us! I grew up in Yosemite and I remember how difficult it was at first getting in and out of the park because we were just kids and my parents were not always entirely sure about reservations, visitor centers, trails, safety, and stewardship! Now, I know the park like the back of my hand, but I recognize that many still do not and it takes people like Laura and her team to have the passion and motivation to make a difference! I was truly inspired by Laura and I cannot wait to meet her in person!
It is my third week as an LHIP intern, and I have already made some very strong bonds with rangers all around the country! I want to mention one last thing. I have been challenged. I am one of the biggest introverts. I used to be the type of person who would say “No, you go ask, I’m shy.” I would never ask anyone anything, I was not outspoken. Chesapeake has changed me and I am eternally grateful for that because if I hadn’t taken the initiative to reach out, network, and form these relationships, I would have missed out on some very inspiring and meaningful conversations! Pat on the back for me, I’ve made a breakthrough! Thank you LHIP.