LAtino conservation week at Rock creek park – Ana Karen Sanchez

In the spirit of Latino Conservation Week, the Rock Creek Park Nature Center was able to work with Corazón Latino and Hispanic Access Foundation to host their “De Corazón a Corazón: Musica, Naturaleza y Cultura” event. After fears of heavy rain showers were swept away by beautiful rays of sunshine, the event went on to be a lively success! The event duration was from 3-7 p.m. in front of the Nature Center on Sunday, July 18th, 2021 and partnered with many local organizations including; the National Park Service (Rock Creek Park and Chesapeake Bay Gateways), USDA Forest Service, Rock Creek Conservancy, and Friends of Peirce Mill. Some of the event highlights included a live music performance by Trio Caliente, nature walks guided by Botanist Ana Chuquin, and Rock Creek Park Horse Center tours. On a tastier note, paletas de jugo natural and tacos sudados, a.k.a. “sweaty” tacos, were also distributed.

A lot of work goes into planning an event of this size and flexibility is KEY!! I suggested possible programs/activity ideas and was responsible for following up with other organizations and volunteers. Even though some of my activity ideas didn’t make it into the event it was still helpful to reach out and contact different organizations and individuals. This is useful because it could always be incorporated during a different occasion. Leading up to the event, I attended and participated in the planning meetings and worked closely with Daniela Ochoa, our main Corazon Latino contact. I also created the event layout map and kept track of logistics.

Being interviewed by a Corazon Latino videographer

On the day of the event, I knew I would oversee setting up the outside event logistics with the help of Rock Creek Maintenance. (Shout out to them and all their hard work during these events and the pending re-opening of the Nature Center). This included making sure that electrical connections were in order and safely distributed, assuring that all involved parties had an equipped station (tent, table, chairs, tablecloths) in their designated areas, and continuously communicated with partners during their arrival and the duration of the event. Yet, as with most events there are hiccups or last-minute changes that must be relayed and handled. These situations help us learn and better prepare for future events too.

Event guests enjoying live music and interacting at the different event partner tables

Event guests and partners interacting during the event

Although initially we were expecting anywhere from 50-100 people, we had a 250+ turnout! This was fantastic news! It was wonderful to see family and friends engaging in the educational activities and the historical, environmental, and conservation-focused programs throughout the event. The event was a free, fun-filled celebration aimed at welcoming back the Latino community and other diverse neighbors to the urban oasis of Rock Creek Park as well as introducing first-time guests to all that the park has to offer. With Hispanic Heritage Month around the corner, we hope to continue building bridges to the wondrous world of national parks and increasing access to diverse communities and groups.

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