This week marks the celebration of Latino Conservation Week in the U.S., a tradition that began in 2014 and massively grown each year! Latino Conservation Week is an initiative created by the Hispanic Access Foundation with the purpose of encouraging the Latinx community to explore the outdoors and participate in activities to protect our natural environment.
The first time I heard about this event was in 2016 when, now Tucson Mayor, Regina Romero invited me to bring my family on a hike to ‘A’ Mountain. My family and I were thrilled to hear there was finally an environmental event where we would not stand out! In fact, it was an event made especially for us! We weren’t asked to drive miles and miles into a part of town where we don’t live, pay a fee to enter a park, or take a day off work to volunteer. Nope, this time we were invited by someone from our community to meet at a place in our side of town and hike a mountain that is meaningful to all us. And these little details, they matter!
As a professional in the conservation field, I had always brought my family to environmental events and they gladly came because like me they too love the outdoors. But these events always reminded us that we were different, that somehow were would always be the few brown people in a sea of white environmentalists. While these things never deterred us, we couldn’t help but notice how out of place we looked each time we went on an organized hike or attended a public talk. So, when I got an invitation to participate in Latino Conservation Week I was absolutely thrilled because for the first time my family and I would be just another family, not the one brown family, but just another one in the group. We would not stand out!
During this one afternoon in 2016, my family and I signed petitions to protect the Grand Canyon against mining, we were introduced to Latino Outdoors and participated in their events ever since, and even learned about the Center for Biological Diversity which later hired me to join Regina’s team! None of this would have happened without Latino Conservation Week, so I am grateful that this initiative is growing because it will help more members from our Latinx community get involved and feel like they don’t always have to stand out when it comes to exploring the outdoors and protecting our environment.
Now, as the Community Engagement Program Manager at Sky Island Alliance, I am committed to creating more opportunities for all families from all communities to participate in the protection of natural resources while feeling welcomed, valued and included. While COVID has prevented us from hosting an outing event this year, we will honor Latino Conservation Week by highlighting the voices of Latinx warrior for the environment and organizations in Mexico who are actively protecting our shared ecosystem. Stay tuned!
Resources for Learning, Finding Community, and Taking Action
Latino Conservation Week – https://latinoconservationweek.com/
Hispanic Access Foundation – https://www.hispanicaccess.org/
Latino Outdoors Tucson Chapter – https://www.facebook.com/groups/633214050181615/about