Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance: Bringing the National Park Service to your Backyard


Past RTCA project, Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin, TX

When most people think of the National Park Service, visions of expansive lands, towering mountains, and world wonders come to mind. However, few people are familiar with the smaller programs of the National Park Service like the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. My name is Paola Vazquez and I am the Latinx Outreach Coordinator at the RTCA office in Texas. The NPS-RTCA office works with hundreds of partners across theUnited States to assist communities with outdoor recreation and conservation projects on a local level. Their focus on community and collaborative partnerships help provide equitable and inclusive access for people all across the country.

“The National Park Service is not just about national parks, we’re about your parks.”

The office where I am doing my summer internship is located in Austin, the capitol of Texas, and consists of a small staff of three incredible people. They help communities with projects all across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado. Every year they receive countless applications from communities all across their region in order to get assistance with projects that those communities are working on or have ideas for. While this has been a great way for RTCA to see what it is that communities need, they can’t help but wonder why there are so few applications from the Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities in their area.

This is where I hope to be able to make a difference this summer. As the Latinx Outreach Coordinator, my job will be to make connections and build rapport with people in those communities across Texas and Oklahoma in order to facilitate assistance from the NPS-RTCA office. My hope is to be able to create lasting relationships between Latinx communities and the National Park Service in order to help people bring NPS to their backyard. 

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