Volunteering at Elkhorn Slough Reserve has made me question why Latinos don’t visit this beautiful place that has interesting things for everyone. The reserve is surrounded by three towns that have large numbers of Latinos; Watsonville, Castroville, and Prunedale. Most of the visitors are not Latinos and they are individuals who come from out of the county or in many cases from out of state.
To increase the diversity of visitors we started to offer Spanish nature walks every Saturday for the month of August, but reaching the community has been challenging. Many different forms of outreach have been made but three weeks into the month of August the turnouts are still miniscule. One would think the bigger the population the easier it is to reach them but in our experience that has not been true. I think that reaching a certain audience requires intensive advertising prior to the actual event as well as patience during the event as more and more people will spread the message by word of mouth.
Our efforts have probably reached many families, but the willingness to come out and join our Spanish nature walk is still in question. This weekend we had a local family from the area that was interested in exploring the slough and interested in sharing the message to other families because they believe that more Latino families should be going outdoors. Another thing that I realized is that in order to go outdoors, there needs to be a reason or interest for doing so. In many cases people go to bird watch, see the flora and fauna, exercise, or to relax and appreciate everything. If there is not reason behind a visit, it is going to take more effort to enjoy your time in the outdoors if you end up going. This family for instance knew someone who use to volunteer at the slough and they also appreciated nature. Therefore they had an excuse to visit, but what about when other people don’t have that, how do you have people willingly come by and give it a chance…