Spotlight Story

17 August 2022

Brenda Gallegos: Making the Outdoors a Career as a Latina Conservationist

Category: Spotlight Story

El Paso, Texas is commonly referred to as the Sun City and sits right next to Ciudad Juarez. The Franklin Mountains, a beautiful backdrop to the two cities, is full of life and culture. Due to its close proximity to Mexico, it makes sense that Latinos make up 83 percent of the El Paso community. But for Brenda Gallegos, El Paso is her home. It’s where she grew to love and appreciate the outdoors. Brenda always longed for the outdoors, but her family wanted her to focus on her education and find what they perceived a “steady career”, as a doctor or a teacher. However, Brenda always felt the inclination to some day turn being in the outdoors into a career.

Her earliest, fondest memory of the outdoors traces back to Mexico, when she would spend summers in Los Filtros, Mexico, right outside of Chihuahua. For her, this was the closest she would get to enjoying being outside in nature with her family while growing up. Every summer, they would go to the river and camp in the area, swimming and making carne asadas next to the river while spending time with each other.

Gallegos has always been a trailblazer. Even before attending college, she graduated with her high school degree and an associate's degree. While deciding what to major in, she felt inclined to something revolving protecting our wildlife. Although biology classes were a challenge, she felt her passion grow for wildlife conservation. Gallegos got her degree in Environmental Ecology from the University of Texas at El Paso and after attending a conference in Vanhorn, Texas, she discovered she wanted to study wildlife closer, so she did her master thesis on scaled quails at Sul Ross State University. In this program, she struggled. She was the only Latina in the program and one of two women. Nevertheless, she persevered through the program and graduated with her Master’s of Science in Natural Resource Management.

Since getting her master’s and working for a nonprofit in New Mexico, Brenda now works for Hispanic Access Foundation as a Conservation Program Associate. Brenda describes it as the best opportunity she’s had yet because “ collides both of my passions together. Protecting the outdoors and also helping my community. Growing up in a latino community, I could see the barriers of not having access to the outdoors. Being a part of this team, collides both of my passions.”

Brenda places a huge importance on diversifying the conservation world. As a Latina, she’s often discredited by her own peers, but hopes to change that for future Latina conservationists.

“Some people may believe that we do not know much, even though we have multiple degrees in wildlife, conservation, and biology,” she expressed.

With a proven track record of breaking glass ceilings and expectations, Gallegos continues to be a trailblazer for her comunidad and hermanas in the conservation world.

Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Brenda Gallegos, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

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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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