25 Jul My Time Ends Yet the True Outreach Begins
While this land was, has, and always be Lenape homeland we must also tell the stories of the farmers that are the backbone of the country. Stories that emphasize the conservation of nature and culture that bring everyone together. Although I didn’t get a chance to meet the Latinx people at local community centers, I was their host at the park. While there were some unruly visitors, most of these families were kind. Personally, it was a glimpse of what my family would be doing on the weekend, it was a bittersweet feeling. For the rest of the staff, the hosts turned to the hosted. Yes, we got stern with some folks, but most of them felt “ashamed” of what they did after we explained the reasoning behind the rules. But for us Latinos, an expression of apology in words isn’t enough, so we look to what we can express our identity into…. food. I always say breaking bread is the way to one’s heart and mind. These small tacos were a way for them to connect to us and vice versa. This summer was always an evolving timeline. My main project was connecting with the Latin population to co-create/ present programs for neurodivergent and physically restricted students then somedays to being with facilities and natural resource divisions in assisting the riparian buffer with on-the-fly ride along with law enforcement.
There is a saying that we are our own worst critics, I feel that is me right now. When I found out I had gotten this position I started to envision the outcome of having a robust well planned standard operating procedure, I was looking too far ahead. This year wasn’t about leading an established ranger program or tabling at a formal outreach event, it was about getting to know our visitors. Listening to their needs and wanting to learn more about us. As I am writing this blog, I am thinking back to when a parent’s face lit up when they were informed, we will be having activities for the kids and adults, or when we had two teenagers volunteer on the spot. That was a win. These people don’t know the rules, but once they know them and why the National Park Service exists, they are 100% on board and eager to be involved. All they need is someone willing to amplify their voices. This year was part of building a sturdy layer of stone in the foundation of the park’s mission. In short, this summer experience was always a fun family filled adventure all day, every day encounter.