Authors: Maria F. “Masi” Mejia and Cynthia Espinosa Marrero
As Latinos continue to grow demographically, we are reaching new heights not only outdoors but also indoors. In her Study, Taylor (2004), stated that “ethnic minorities are severely underrepresented in the environmental workforce” (p. 4). This quote can serve as a statement that representation of minorities is needed in the environmental workforce. By acquiring an environmental-related degree, Latinos are becoming part of the environmental movement, workforce and applying their cultural knowledge which is crucial. We, at Latino Outdoors, have been able to turn our experiences in the outdoors into higher education and ultimately careers and so can you!
Some of us connected to the land at an early age and some of us at a later age, by camping, hiking, hunting, gardening, amongst other recreational activities. These various experiences exposed us to education and career opportunities that are possible in the outdoors. The possibilities are endless! To become a successful outdoor professional from a park ranger to wildlife veterinarian, one must pursue education from a high school diploma to a Doctor in Philosophy. Education should never cease, as it is something that no one can ever take away from you.
There are lots of opportunities available to students who are interested in careers in the outdoors. We have compiled a list to help make any individual interested in pursuing a career in the field of natural resource management and recreation successful:
For individuals entering high school or in their teens, it is important to Get Outside! When you get outside you connect with other outdoor professionals and enthusiasts. During these outdoors experiences, it is at this moment that you should ask as many questions as you can. Asking professionals and outdoor enthusiasts how they got to where they are can show you just how diverse people are. The classes that you engage more in high school will add more knowledge and experience! Don’t forget to take your ACT or SAT during your junior or senior year of high school. These academic placements tests, along with other qualifications are needed to enter a higher education institution to pursue an undergraduate degree in something you love.
Undergraduate degrees in this field include environmental education, conservation biology, wildlife management, outdoors recreation, natural resource management, advocacy and social justice, sustainable development…the possibilities are endless! Degrees in other fields can also be applied to this field such as accounting and marketing, as they are essential to environmental organizations and agencies. Generally speaking, there are two types of undergraduate degrees. A Bachelors of Arts is a degree that focuses more on liberal arts classes related to the career field. A Bachelors of Science is a degree that focuses more scientific classes related to the career field. Both types of degrees are extremely valuable to natural resource management and recreation. You might want to ask yourself what job you envision yourself doing. A bachelor of science might be more valuable if you want to become a wildlife biologist. A bachelor of arts might be more valuable if you want to become involved in advocacy and social justice.
The thirst for knowledge should never end. As an individual you should always continue to learn whether it is informally or formally. Graduate degrees in this field include Masters of Arts, Masters of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy. The differences in masters of arts and masters of science is similar to above. Typically a Master’s degree takes about 2-3 years to complete. An individual takes classes while working on research related to the field of natural resource management and recreation. A Doctor of Philosophy degree is next degree to pursue in higher education. A doctoral degree can take about 3-5 years to complete depending on the research.
A degree in higher education regardless of bachelors, masters, or doctor of philosophy means greater career opportunities in the environmental field!
As Latinos we should strive not only to pursue higher education, but to pursue higher education in career fields we love. For those of us who were able to connect the outdoors to a career we love, we are leaders of tomorrow.
Be sure to reach out to reach out to either of the authors listed above or your regional Latino Outdoors Ambassador to find out how your love of the outdoors can lead to a career!
Taylor, D. (2004). Diversity and the Environment: Myth-Making and the Status of Minorities in the Field. Equity and the Environment. Research and Social Problems and Public Policy, Volume 15. pp. 89-147.