05 January 2024

The Power of Interpretation and Conservation Education

Written by: Alondra Gomez


My time so far at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit as a Resource Assistant in Conservation Education has been a rewarding and powerful learning experience for me. I began my interpreting journey over the summer doing the Heavenly Ranger Interpretive Program facilitating hikes with the public. At first learning how to interpret the land isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, I learned that interpreting is an art form. Interpretation requires a specific approach to make a difference in your audience and the approach must be relevant, thematic, organized, enjoyable, and purposeful. In the beginning, I was nervous to start doing interpretive hikes with random strangers, but it turned out to be a series of informative and transformative conservation. Interpretive hikes with the public taught me a lot of myself, my values, our individual experiences in the outdoors and our collective responsibility to Nature.

For a long time, I struggled to find meaning in my work and how to effectively show up for mi comunidad. Once the Heavenly Ranger Interpretive Program ended, the Kokanee Programs at Taylor Creek began by taking young students from the nearby school districts to learn about the Kokanee Salmon. I got the opportunity to take students out to Taylor Creek to show them the various puzzle pieces that make up Taylor Creek, protecting habitats, ecosystems, watersheds, wildlife, and helping preserve the environment through conservation education. My favorite moment from the Kokanee Field Trip, I got to take my 4th grade teacher’s class out on a walk, and it was once of the most fulfilling moments I’ve had during my RA term. The WOWEE programs (Wonders of Water Extended Edition) through STEEC, the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition began at the same time. This program offered environmental education program with different stations that focused particularly on nature materiality and exposing young students to the elements of the natural world. For example, I did a lesson plan on molecules in motion that focused on the molecular movement of water’s physical states, exploring watershed models like Lake Tahoe, and demonstrating outdoor recreation therapy by using nature objects to make art.

All the Conservation Education work I’ve done thus far has given me to the ability to show up and give back to mi comunidad in ways that have been meaningful and empowering. From taking the public on interpretive hikes in high-altitude adventurous terrain, to the playful educational field trips with young students about fish and wildlife. While also participating in community based environmental programs to make sure every Tahoe kid gets outside. These experiences as a Resource Assistant in Conservation Education through Hispanic Access Foundation, has helped me acknowledge how environmental programs positively impact community engagement in conservation efforts and issues. I have come to end most of the interpretative walks with young students and the public by telling them they have the power to make change whether big or small in our pursuit for a more just and sustainable world. We are all a part of this bigger puzzle, and we all have something to contribute to our communities. The purpose of Conservation Education and the power of interpreting has led me to believe environmental stewardship can evolve from the smallest acts of service and by telling a story that connects us all.

About Us

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

Contact Us