Michelle Neuenschwander, program director with the MANO Program, said fellowships provide Latinos valuable hands-on experience managing Colorado's wildlife and outdoor landscapes, which can help them compete for good-paying permanent jobs with benefits.
"When candidates want to apply for these positions, some of the minimum requirements are asking for one to two years of experience in the field," said Neuenschwander. "It's not an entry-level position, so these opportunities allow them to gain that experience to be considered for these positions."
Fellows work on cultural preservation in museums and environmental stewardship outdoors, and gain business skills including accounting, communications and engineering.
All fellowship positions are paid, and many offer transportation stipends, free on-site housing or housing stipends. Applications available online at 'ManoProject.org' are due January 7, for work set to start next summer.
Neuenschwander said the program has shown that increasing diversity strengthens federal agencies charged with managing lands owned by all Americans.
"Teams that are working together thrive," said Neuenschwander, "and are more successful when they are incorporating voices from people that have different upbringings and different backgrounds and different ethnicities."
Neuenschwander said putting these young leaders in uniform also can open the door for future generations.
"So kids can realize, 'Hey, I can be a park ranger one day,' or 'I can work at a National Wildlife Refuge and help others be introduced to the outdoors,'" said Neuenschwander.
By Eric Galatas for Public News Service