Latino Outdoors: Connecting Cultura and Community with the Outdoors
Latino Outdoors began with a simple idea: Where are the Latino-led organizations with conservation and the environment as a primary focus?
With that question, we are working on four categories:
- Identify, Connect, and Support the Latino Outdoor leadership infrastructure to build community and act as support and resource network. We want to establish a familia for mutual support, professional development, references, and other convening opportunities within current professionals and future development. This exists for other “Latino issues” like immigration, health, and education. The individuals exist for the outdoors and conservation, but the sense of community is still developing and we are a powerful source to help conservation organizations be culturally relevant in engaging the variety of Latino communities. Beyond just being “recipients of programming”, we want to see ourselves reflected in leadership and decision-making capacities of the conservation movement.
- Rely on the growing community to provide mentoring opportunities to youth and young professionals. Mentoring is a powerful component and it matters when we are working to diversify the conservation movement. Young professionals need to have a sense of history and role models just as they themselves may be mentors and role models for other youth. Beyond just getting youth outdoors, we want to highlight and support a variety of pathways for youth to pursue this as a career with culturally responsive role models, especially valuing the knowledge of our elders.
- Amplify programming through the existing social infrastructure and highlight the value of family-oriented programing for Latino communities. We do not want to “recreate the wheel” or do programming for the sake of doing new programs. Many good programs already exist and there are a variety of organizations working to get more Latino communities connected with conservation. Often what is missing is some connectivity and extra support. Beyond just doing programs, we want to leverage our identity and community building to weave partners and amplify our efforts to get more youth and families outdoors.
- Tell our stories as we define what it means to have a Latino/a identity in relation to the Outdoors. Stories have power and they say many things about the cultural traditions and values we hold. We want to document our experiences through personal writings, blog posts, video, and other social media to accomplish these goals. Beyond just acknowledging Latinos care about the environment and “getting them into the conservation movement”, we want to say “this is how and why it matters, this is us, listen to our stories and support us.”
- Need for diversification of conservation movement
- Outdoor spaces are powerful for initial connections to environmental issues, and can extend to other conservation actions
- There is a recognized need for more and varied Latino participation in public lands
- Increased participation is important for a sustained future of the conservation movement
There is varied literature and research out there, but the gist of it is summed in these accessible articles:
- Opportunity for familias and communities to get initial or sustained connections with Outdoors
- Latino communities share experiences and knowledge about outdoors
- Entry point to connecting with conservation organizations
- Conservation organizations share knowledge and expertise about issues and themselves
- Latino outdoor professionals serving as role models
- A Community for Latino outdoors professionals
- Opportunity for youth to connect with possible careers, knowledge about Outdoors
- Reaping benefits of nature exposure—being outdoors
- Everyone “brings something to the table”
- Clearing house, knowledge base, information center- collecting formal and informal data
- Latino Outdoor Education Professionals
- Spanish-speaking, English-speaking, Bilingual Latinos
- First & Second Generation, Youth, Familias, Elders
- Self-Identifying Latinos, Chicanos, Hispanics
- Supporting Organizations—conservation and Latino
By partnering with each other and other organizations, leveraging support
- Conservation organizations can provide space, place, support, knowledge, resources
- Structured and informal Community Outdoor Events
- Familias and communities learn and share their knowledge about outdoor experiences
- Latino outdoor professionals lead trips (excursions, guided hikes), share experiences, knowledge—start out on a volunteer basis
- End of each trip: share about organization support, collect information (outreach pros and cons, next steps, anecdotes, survey, experiences),
- During each trip: do not “oversell or over-teach”, focus on 3-5 “take-aways” (something learned, made, experienced, documented, facts), touch on several if not all domains (knowledge, affective), train the trainer (leave with them being able to bring other family members or friends)
- How the space being visited “works”, who it is available to, how it’s used, how it can be accessed, who takes care of it, what is needed
- Communicate with intent to learn and teach, respect and inform, talk and listen, share and gain
Considerations: variety of outdoor settings, best times for different communities, challenges for accessing specific places, other challenges (logistics, funding, support, etc.).
Summarizing, Latino Outdoors is:
- A community and network of Outdoor Education professionals
- A starting and continuing point for OE Professionals to engage and learn with Latino communities
- A starting and continuing point for Latinos to engage and learn about the Outdoors and conservation organizations
- Using Spanish as a cultural asset, English as a professional tool, and being bilingual as an affirmative identity
- Opportunity to network and build professional connections
- Training ground for current and future professionals
- Cooperative and collaborative by nature
We are NOT:
- Exclusionary- everyone is welcome regardless of language and ethnicity but understanding of our starting points and community we seek to engage
- A political group (though we support policies that increase access and equity to outdoor experiences)
- Claiming to hold all expertise or authority
- The first or only ones to do this (but want to connect, sustain, and expand complimentary efforts)
Outcomes: (in progress)
- Positive transformative first experiences or reframing of past experiences—documented via various mediums (video, blog, narratives, photos, etc).
- A quantifiable network of professionals
- A quantifiable number of “convenings”—events, outings, and opportunities to meet
Be able to contribute to the answering of the following questions:
- How do you increase engagement for Latinos in the Outdoors and Public Lands? What are strategies and approaches that work better than others depending on the communities?
- What are barriers and obstacles to Latino participation?
- How do Latinos engage differently than other communities? How do they engage in similar ways?
- What are the challenges and opportunities in supporting and increasing Latino Outdoor Education professionals? What are the access points?
- What factors matter most for families and communities with limited past or current engagement in the outdoors? What matters most for families and communities that regularly engage with outdoors?
- What Outdoors are we talking about? How do Latinos view the Outdoors or different framings of it? (City parks, BLM land, National Parks, county parks, picnic areas, wilderness).