03 January 2024

A First Step

Written by: Andrea Otalora

The holiday season is well and done, and it is time to get back into the thick of things. I have finally gotten the opportunity to advance on my main project as a HAF intern—connecting the community of Hardeeville to the Savannah Coastal wildlife refuge, as well as nature at large. In early December, my supervisor and I met with a few administrative leads who work at the City of Hardeeville Parks & Recreation department. Our goal with that meeting was to see how we at the refuge can better help the community of Hardeeville in the realm of environmental outreach and hosting local events. Those from the Parks & Rec department were very receptive to our ideas and getting involved, and I’m aiming to further springboard off that as soon as possible. I started off trying to build our relationship by helping at a couple of their planned Christmas events, including one they hosted in front of city hall where they had Christmas carolers, hot cocoa and cookies, a chance for kids to meet Santa, and getting to see the big tree being lit up outside. It was a huge success with great attendance, and I am glad I was able to help out when things got hectic.

A key thing I’ve taken note of about the Hardeeville community is how many Hispanics there are, and how important it will be to have them feel included and encouraging those families to attend the Parks & Rec department’s events. One of the people we met from the department is of Mexican heritage, and she’s done great work reaching to this portion of the community. With my own Hispanic background and also being able to speak Spanish, I believe I am in a good position to improve the refuge’s relationship with the residents of Hardeeville. I hope to start off by getting insight into what sorts of events the community would be interested in and how we should best focus our efforts and resources. To that end, I will continue to collaborate with our contacts in Hardeeville as we enter the new year and make progress towards getting families outdoors to appreciate the natural world that surrounds us.

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

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