06 Jul Preserving Heritage, Protecting the Future
This year, I contributed to Latino Conservation Week by writing an article for InsideNPS, a resource site on Sharepoint specifically designed for NPS employees. InsideNPS provides various resources, including news articles, upcoming events, uniform guides, and contact information. As an intern working under Suki, the InsideNPS Manager, one of my responsibilities was to help populate the site with content, update pages and find ways to encourage employees to utilize it as a valuable resource.
I was assigned the task of writing an article for InsideNPS that would inform employees about Latino Conservation Week (LCW). Initially, I wasn’t sure about the specific focus of the article. While the main goal was to discuss LCW, I wanted to delve deeper and emphasize the significance of our work in conservation and the contributions of our community. During my research on the origins of LCW, I realized I also wanted to shed light on the challenges faced by marginalized communities, including environmental racism, limited access to green spaces, and higher exposure to pollution compared to our white counterparts.
The article I ended up writing turned out to be longer than expected, and I was concerned about how my supervisor and others would perceive it. Fortunately, I received their full support. We collaborated on making minimal edits to align the article with my vision. Once we reached a final draft, I published it on InsideNPS. My article was featured as one of the pinned news articles on the InsideNPS homepage. Although it may seem like a small accomplishment, the objective was to ensure LCW received visibility among all employees. Hopefully, this would educate someone unfamiliar with LCW and inspire them to organize an LCW event at their own park.
Below is the LCW article that I wrote and is currently published on InsideNPS:
Nature knows no boundaries, and neither does the passion for protecting it. For many years, the Latino community has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship, advocating for the conservation of our planet’s precious resources. To honor and celebrate those efforts, Latino Conservation Week was established as a time to recognize the crucial role of Latinos in the conservation movement and promote environmental awareness within this vibrant and diverse community.
Latino Conservation Week, also known as Semana de la Conservación, is the third week of July and aims to engage and empower Latino communities across the United States to get involved in outdoor activities, environmental education, and conservation efforts. This year, Latino Conservation Week is from July 15-23.
The Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) launched the celebration in 2014. HAF, a nonprofit organization committed to empowering Hispanic communities and promoting their involvement in conservation, recognized the need to bridge the gap between Latinos and the environmental movement. With a desire to highlight the deep connection Latinos have with nature, culture, and the environment, they embarked on a mission to create an event that would celebrate Latino contributions to conservation.
Since its inception, Latino Conservation Week has grown in scope and impact, reaching communities across the nation. The event provides a platform for Latino organizations, community groups, and individuals to host a wide range of activities that promote outdoor recreation, environmental awareness, and conservation practices. From hiking to birdwatching to volunteering in national parks and participating in educational workshops, the week offers a variety of opportunities to connect with nature and take part in conservation initiatives.
Latinos have a rich history deeply rooted in the land, and their cultural heritage has long emphasized a strong bond with nature. From traditional farming practices to spiritual connections, with the environment, Latinos have always understood the importance of living in harmony with the Earth. By recognizing and celebrating Latino contributions to conservation, we not only honor their heritage but also foster a greater sense of inclusivity.
Latino communities often face unique challenges when it comes to environmental issues. They may experience disproportionate exposure to pollution, lack access to green spaces, or face barriers to participation due to language and cultural differences. Latino Conservation Week helps address these challenges by actively engaging with the community and providing them with resources, opportunities, and a sense of belonging. By doing so, it ensures that conservation efforts are equitable and that all voices are heard and valued.
LCW also serves as an educational platform, raising awareness about the importance of environmental stewardship and the impact of conservation on communities. By organizing events that showcase the beauty of nature and the benefits of protecting it, the week encourages people to become environmental ambassadors and agents of change within their own neighborhoods. The Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) offers a great opportunity for the next generation of park stewards. They do this by playing a crucial role in supporting LCW efforts by offering hands-on experience and mentorship to young individuals, inspiring them to pursue careers in the environmental field and continue the legacy of conservation within the Latino Community.
Discover the rich and inspiring stories shared through #MyParkStory that highlights the deep connection between Latin Heritage and the work people do for our national parks. These stories beautifully exemplify the intersectionality between Latino and Caribbean heritage, reminding us that Latinos embody a kaleidoscope of identities, encompassing various ethnicities, nationalities, heritages, languages, and cultural traditions.
- Kina Gonzalez, Interpretation, Education, and Fee Manager at San Juan National Historic Site, reveals her journey and how it led her to contribute to her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Veronica Carlo, Park Guide at Boston National Historical Park, shares her profound connection to her Puerto Rican heritage and the importance of her work within her community.
- Hector Falero, Training Specialist at Stephen T. Mather Training Center, embraces his Cuban American and Latinx heritage to build strong communities.
- Dive into articles like “Caribbean American Heritage through the Five Senses,” exploring sensory experiences that shape our cultural connections, and learn about the six national park units in the Caribbean, including the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Immerse yourself in these stories and witness the powerful intersection of heritage, work, and community.
During this week we encourage everyone to explore and embrace their park story. Whether it’s a memory of visiting a particular park, a connection to ancestral lands, or a passion for conservation and environmental advocacy. Your story can be a powerful tool for inspiring others to connect with nature, celebrate their heritage, and foster a sense of stewardship for our national parks. Visit the Your Park Story page to contribute, and if you need support, feel free to contact Sophia Grande, a digital communications intern for WASO at firstname.lastname@example.org