19 June 2020

Representation in Outdoor Spaces Matters!

Written by: Cynthia Agustin

Hello everybody! Hola a todos!

I just finished the second week of my internship, and so far this experience has been different from what I expected it to be. The pandemic brought about a lot of changes in terms of where I will be working and what I will be doing for the remainder of the summer, but nevertheless, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue my internship.

Due to the pandemic, I am no longer working on site, and I am teleworking from home in sunny Long Beach, California. Everyone from SEKI has been extremely welcoming and helpful, providing a lot of resources for me to be successful. I appreciate their support and guidance, especially during this transition.

In the meantime, I've been trying my best to safely go out and experience the nature that Long Beach and Southern California have to offer. Long Beach is geographically different from SEKI, but I’ve been taking a lot of walks, going to nearby parks, taking hikes, and working on my tiny garden.

Exploring the outdoors in my city has me thinking about the types of conversations I’ve had with my mentors and peers about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how that relates to National Parks and green spaces. I was lucky enough to grow up going camping and hiking with my family, but many people cannot say the same. I am lucky to have access to green space within walking distance of where I live in Long Beach, but many others cannot do the same. I look forward to going outdoors to my nearby park as an escape, and it's unfortunate that not everyone has the same opportunities or feels as welcome in outdoor spaces. Many of the communities who lack these green spaces are low-income communities and communities of color. The lack of diversity in National Parks and monuments make it so that not all people feel welcome. For this reason, I am very proud to be interning for the Latino Heritage Internship Program because representation matters. We are helping increase diversity and addressing these difficult conversations that need to be had. We are also changing the narrative and changing the traditional idea of what it looks like to be an environmentalist and conservationist.

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP)

Location: Sequoia National Forest

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HAF improves the lives of Hispanics in the United States and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systems.

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