Emma grew up in a mixed household in California. While growing up, her sense of identity got blurred by the layers of forced assimilation she and her family have been subject to since her ancestors moved to California several generations ago. Daughter of a Mexican mom and a Catalan dad, it was not until recently that Emma felt welcomed in a community that shares her worldviews and cares about advocating for the ecosystems in a way that resonates with her Latina identity.
Emma has been in the conservation field for ten years now. She completed a bachelor's in wildlife ecology and a master's in public policy. For her, the outdoors has been more than a career path; it has been a way to heal personal trauma.
“The outdoors became important in that space. It was the place I went to make sense of the world and find the guidance I needed. As I did my healing through understanding how underrepresented communities interact with the environment, I started to relearn and dismantle the learning I gained in trying to find answers.”
When she moved across the country for college, she started to learn about other marginalized communities in the outdoors and how that made sense to her. After being introduced to Latino organizations like Latino Outdoors, she found a sense of community she did not feel before; the one Emma was separated from when she was younger.
“Then, I realized I can't do environmental work without working with my community first. When I started with Latino Outdoors, it changed how I interacted with the outdoors. There was so much more alignment, and I made sense of the way I wanted to interact with nature.”
Most recently, Emma joined Hispanic Access’ Latino Climate Council, which allowed her to tap into advocacy in new ways. Through the Council, she has been part of a group in charge of distilling what climate justice is, how it interacts with climate change, environmental justice, and how it impacts the Latino communities. She has found ways of being a good science communicator for the communities she works with. This skill becomes relevant when working with people who do not understand science the way researchers do.
“We are connected to the land. Climate change is often talked about in a way that separates people from the environment. Racial justice is climate justice; gender justice is climate justice. We must expand our lenses to the larger oppressive structures of patriarchy that affect people and the land. We need to be in solidarity with people’s fight for the soil, water, worker rights, and gender equity. They are all connected because the destruction of people’s humanity is attached to the destruction of the environment. Uplifting our communities is important to addressing the larger structures that cause climate change.”
For Emma, being a good leader in her field is doing intersectional work.