Latino Outdoors: Our Audience, Partners, and Contributors
- Latino Outdoor Education Professionals
- Spanish-speaking, English-speaking, Bilingual Latinos
- First & Second Generation, Youth, Familias, Elders
- Self-Identifying Latinos, Chicanos, Hispanics
- Supporting Organizations: Conservation organizations and Latino organizations
Latino Outdoors Volunteer Staff
Jose González – Founder Director
Jose González is an experienced educator in formal and informal education settings with an array of associated interests in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. He has broad experience as a k-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching credential coursework was at the Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at California State University, Sacramento.
As a public school teacher, he taught courses in Spanish, Social Studies, Behavior Intervention for at-risk youth, and English Language Development in middle school and high school settings. As a Program Coordinator at San Jose State University with the California Mini-Corps Program, he trained and led groups of undergraduate students providing direct instructional services to migrant students in partner school districts and in outdoor education programs. At the University of Michigan, School of Education, he was an instructor for science education in their undergraduate program. Recently, at the National Hispanic University, he has taught course on Science Methods, Math Methods, Primary & Secondary Language Development, Latino Culture, and Technology Integration at the Teacher Education Department.
In his capacity developing LO, Jose looks forward to opportunities and collaborating with organizations seeking to diversity their outdoor and conservation programs. He is available for trainings, workshops, and speaking engagements around these topics. Read more about his general work here: http://latinooutdoors.org/jose-gonzalez/
Masi Mejía - Project Specialist, Texas
Maria “Masi” Mejia is originally from South Texas where she spent her time involved in 4-H, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Brigades, and Texas Youth Hunting Program. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation of Natural Resources and a minor in Agricultural Leadership from Texas Tech University and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Wildlife, Aquatic, and Wildlands Science and Management. She has helped organize Playa Festivals, Wetland Festivals, and even a Meet the Refuge event at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in Muleshoe, Texas.
As LO Project Specialist, she provides support to staff, members, and partners of LO on special projects related to science, outreach, and education. She also develops training materials and conducts programs for the general public which promote LO’s values of integrating Latino communities with conservation and the outdoors. She actively blogs about her experiences and educational outreach on her site: http://adayinthelifeofmasi.blogspot.com/. Masi can be reached there or at email@example.com for any related activities in Texas.
Melissa Avery – Regional Coordinator, San Francisco Bay Area
Melissa Avery is an outdoor family blogger based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her B.S. at California State University Hayward (East Bay) in Business Administration/Accounting and entered the world of federal law enforcement for the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Even though her work experience has been primarily financial and law enforcement, Melissa continues to explore her love of outdoors locally as well as adventuring down to South America to backpack the Salkantay and Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
After leaving government work and entering motherhood, Melissa understood that being outdoors was essential to parenting and continued her outdoor lifestyle with her children. With camping, hiking, backpacking and anything outdoors among her activities, she and her family are up for a challenge. In August 2012, she began blogging about her family outdoor adventures because so many of her friends and family were curious about her outdoor lifestyle. She was given the trail name “Chasqui Mom” because of her Peruvian heritage and motherhood and made this name her blog identity as well, because just as the Chasquis were the Incan Emperor mountain runners that relayed important information, she wanted to be a messenger of the outdoors, in to particular Latino families and youth. You can follow her blog here: http://www.chasquimom.com/
Melissa is also a youth leader with her husband at her local church, Iglesia Esperanza Viva, where she has integrated a wilderness program into the church’s regular youth activities with much success. During her nine years as a leader, she has led many camping, hiking, backpacking and even international outreach/camping trips to Ensenada, Mexico with her Jr. High and High School students. Melissa believes that with all the complex issues our young people are confronted with, it is beneficial to give them the opportunity to gain real perspective on the world, understand true poverty and service, and develop integrity and character through exposure to the outdoors.
For LO, she focuses her time partnering with organizations and facilitating outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking and backpacking with families and youth students in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Juan Telles – Regional Coordinator, Central Valley Area
Juan Telles was born in Modesto, California in 1989. Having experienced poverty and fatherlessness, he has dedicated his life to serve the underprivileged. His goal is to “heal the home.”
He is excited to support LO by using his strengths to increase member and participant engagement, heading efforts for public outreach, and taking families outside of their neighborhoods by coordinating outdoor events in the Central Valley.
“Nature is an untapped resource that can heal, educate, and empower. Let’s help others rediscover it.” - J. Telles
Raquel Rangel – Regional Coordinator, Central Valley Area
Raquel Rangel is a student at California State University, Stanislaus, majoring in Biological Science. She has volunteered with different organizations in the Central Valley, planting native shrubs and trees for different restoration projects and water monitoring, as well as banding geese for data collection. Raquel has found out that her collaboration as a volunteer, her involvement with the Geography Club on campus, and her involvement with the Tuolumne River Trust has helped her develop various skills and has expanded her interest towards the outdoors.
With her involvement in Latino Outdoors, she hopes to get individuals and communities involved and interested in connections with the environment. By organizing different outings she would like everyone to see what a beautiful place we live in and show them how we could conserve it.
Lesly Caballero – Regional Coordinator, Sonoma & Marin Counties
I first became interested in bilingual environmental education when I was a high school volunteer at Petaluma Bounty, a community farm that provides healthy food for everyone, regardless of income. One of my roles was translating educational programs and weekly newsletters regarding healthy food guidelines and environmental sustainability. I then interned with Environment for the Americas on a project doing community outreach and bilingual environmental education as part of a diversity initiative. After that internship, I obtained a summer interpretive internship at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the Marin Headlands. During this internship, I provided interpretive programs on cultural and nature topics to the general public. I volunteered with Point Blue Conservation Science offering their elementary school outdoor programs in Spanish. In 2013 I interned with the USFS in Alaska for 5 months doing wildlife research and bilingual outdoor education. I am on the advisory board of Petaluma Bounty leading discussions of cultural relevance in their programs. I have found it tremendously rewarding to expose Latino families and students to bilingual environmental education by teaching them about conservation values and natural environments. I have enjoyed these volunteer and internship experiences and I am inspired to continue making these educational opportunities more available to the Latino community.
Eduardo González - Contributor
Eduardo González is a student of the natural sciences at Sierra College in Rocklin, CA. His experience in the field of outdoor education has been through Shady Creek Outdoor School’s student naturalist program.
During his time at the outdoor school he led experiential education programs for 5th and 6th grade students, including team-building, Native American studies, wilderness survival skills, and environmental awareness. Concluding his time there, he spent his summers working for the US Forest Service as a temporary employee (formerly STEP) on the Plumas National Forest. He worked on various restoration projects that included Black Oak and meadow restoration, Aspen release, noxious weed removal, and other projects with respects to ecosystem management.
In addition to his studies, he currently guides tours as a museum docent at the Sierra College Natural History Museum. He continues to seek higher education and looks forward to being contacted for opportunities in this field.