The benefits of working with communities

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Mural in Watsonville showing the Latino community in the wetlands

Working with Environment for the Americas has been a complete game changer for my career path. I was always sure of what I wanted to do when I “grew up” and was living with that idea throughout my time in college. I knew that I wanted to work outdoors, I wanted to help in restoration, and I wanted to make a difference. But I envisioned accomplishing these goals as an individual. I never considered the public, my community, my Hispanic culture, or younger generations.

During our internship Hugo and I improved our skills interacting with public. For the first couple of weeks we were introducing ourselves and becoming familiar with organizations in the area. After that we started to work with government agencies and began expressing our ideas or opinions regarding the research we were involved with. Currently we are leading nature walks at Elkhorn Slough, which requires excellent communication and people skills.

After months of outreach we are vey comfortable with the communities of the Monterey Bay area. We have done outreach in cities like Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Cruz, Marina, and Moss Landing. We worked with school staff that were very encouraging of our environmental education and outreach initiative. They helped me find ways to teach about the topics I care about meanwhile finding out what the students themselves are passionate about. Our school presentations were really enjoyable and I am glad I created awareness on environmental issues.

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Me helping up clean trash around the Elkhorn Slough Community

I have learned a great deal about getting the Latino community to be involved with the environment. I engaged people by educating them about natural areas like Elkhorn Slough or showing them how rewarding bird watching can be with the family. Hugo and I have reached more than 2,000 people during this internship time and most were children at schools! Before this internship I did not know how rewarding it is to work with younger kids and it gives me new insight on how I can incorporate teaching into my line of work. There have been many natural resource staff mentors that have told us about how to pursue our career aspirations and explained the various opportunities in our field. Throughout my career I hope to mentor others by teaching children about environmental issues and natural resource careers.

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