02 Aug Si Se Puede. . . Juntxs!
On Saturday, July 15th 2017 a group of youth and young adults left the concrete jungle of Los Angeles to enter a new world, the Sierra Nevada forest. They arrived to the Giant Forest Museum and immediately had a new sensory experience. They went from around 200 feet above sea level to 6,400 feet above sea level and the air smelled so different from what they are used to. Tall trees everywhere, some as tall as some of the average sized skyscrapers found in the city. The majority of them had never left Lost Angeles before!
Check out these videos to hear their voices directly:
I had the privilege of hosting them, along with fellow Latinx and Hispanic park rangers, to have an unforgettable experience at Sequoia National Park. The purpose of our event for Latino Conservation Week was to share, inspire and connect the youth to become interested in conserving the parks. I wanted them to feel like they were a part of the NPS familia. The first half of the day, they had charlas with park rangers who worked in different fields like Fire Fighters, Law Enforcement, Wilderness and Interpretation. The rangers shared stories, a few laughs, and inspirations for working in and preserving our public lands. After that, I provided a short talk in Spanish on giant sequoias’ natural history, tree diversity and fire. In the afternoon, Ranger Cristina, an LHIP 2016 Alumni, led an activity to involve the youth and contribute to community science of the giant sequoias. She spoke about the importance of collecting data to monitor the health of the trees, the effects of the drought and climate change impacts on the Sierra Nevada ecosystem and watershed. During my charla, I mentioned that our culture already has important connections with la naturaleza. I also emphasized that cultural diversity is just as important as natural diversity by comparing the diversity of people who come to our parks and how we all come to appreciate something that connects us all as a people, the giant sequoia. I mentioned something that Jeanette Acosta, a member of the local North Fork Mono tribe said, “These trees have waited over 2,000 years to meet you!” I wanted them to feel appreciated for being here. I concluded my talk by mentioning that a healthy ecosystem needs all parts to work together, in a balance and as a community. There is inspiration in the world around us and these sequoias are a prime example of our resiliency. I showed them a sequoia seed, which is only the size of an oatmeal grain, then I motioned to the Sentinel tree and said, “If this tiny seed was able to root itself and grow, grow, grow, then you can too. Si se puede!” *I want to thank and acknowledge Hispanic Access Foundation, Environment for the Americas, Save the Redwoods League and National Park Service for making this experience possible!