01 December 2023

Looking back at National Wildlife Refuge Week

Written by: Jennifer Lagunas

As an intern at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, I’ve been fortunate to dive into the realm of conservation and community outreach. One of the projects I’ve been involved in so far was redefining our approach to engaging the public during National Wildlife Refuge Week.  It seems that in previous years the refuge focused on a more traditional way to get people on the refuge to celebrate with hikes, bird watching, and educational sessions about the importance of preserving natural habitats. While this has allowed for engagement with the refuge, I was thinking about a different approach to get reach out to a broader and diverse crowd. This year, the refuge decided to take a different route. We brainstormed ideas, aiming to captivate a broader audience, one that doesn’t typically come to the refuge. We decided to go with an art-based event aimed at showcasing the beauty of nature while highlighting the critical need for conservation.

We partnered with a local artist from Barrio Logan, San Diego (Maira Meza) to lead painting sessions of three different types of endangered species. I think the main reason why I pitched the idea of having the event be art based was to foster the idea that being outdoor and learning about nature isn’t just about going on hikes and bird watching. It can also be painting and leaning about endangered species while being out in the habitat that need to be protected for these species. It’s a different approach to get people outdoors and to learn about the efforts the refuge is doing to help protect these species.

While we were expecting a good amount of people, the event started off a little slow with 3 people at the first session. As the day went on more people stopped by and we had a good amount of people come for the event. It was the first time the refuge partnered with a local artist to do an event like this and it was great to see the engagement we got. We learned a lot through this event not just with planning and logistics but understanding the wants of the community and learning more about how to engage with them. Witnessing people connect with nature through creative expression was amazing to see, we had people of all ages really taking their time and asking questions about their species. One of my main goals in this internship is to get the local communities to come to the refuge and support these events without feeling like they have to be experts and know about conservation. They are here to enjoy their public lands and learn more about the efforts being made to conserve these lands. Sometimes we must welcome new ideas and not stick to the basics we learn about community outreach.

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Contact Us