I had the opportunity to attend The North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in Arlington, Virginia last week. This conference is coordinated and administered annually by the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI). Each year, the conference agenda is developed by a steering committee representing government, universities, and the private sector. Special sessions are selected by the committee based upon their timeliness and relevance to national conservation efforts.
I was very excited to attend the Education, Outreach & Diversity Committee meeting because I am very passionate about this subject. Interestingly enough, I was the only young person and the only Latina participating in the entire conference. With that in mind, people in various agencies that participated in this meeting stressed the importance of having diversity in their workforce. We discussed some of the obstacles to youth engagement that the agencies encounter and we all brainstormed ideas on how to narrow the diversity gap. We wanted to come up with an action plan to strengthen their knowledge on how to reach diverse audiences. My supervisor, Sue Bonfield, Director of Environment for the Americas, was present in this meeting and she shared information from EFTA’s NSF funded study– Engaging Latino Audiences in Informal Science Education.
At the end of the meeting, people came up to me and congratulated me for being present at the conference and for being involved in conservation. I thanked them and I stressed that I am not the only one. I have other young Latino colleagues in different parts of the country working with the same purpose. There are many young Latinos searching for someone to give them a chance similar to the chance we were given. I am very proud of all the Celebrate Shorebirds interns and the work that we are accomplishing. Even though our tasks might be different, together we are showing that we are proud young Latinos that have a great deal to contribute to conservation efforts in this country.