Growing up between Florida and the rich heritage of Panama, Daniel's connection to nature was nurtured through countless family outings. These experiences not only solidified his passion for conservation but also deepened his understanding of the profound connection between Latino communities and their natural surroundings, particularly in the context of climate adaptation and mitigation.
“My family hails from Panama, and my stepfather is from Venezuela. My mother would send me back to Panama regularly to reconnect with our extended family. Whether I was with uncles, cousins, or other relatives, our activities often revolved around the beach and fishing expeditions in the Canal Zone area. These experiences marked the beginning of my deep connection with nature, as I explored Panama's diverse landscapes, from the cloud rainforests to the beaches, and various habitats and ecosystems. It was truly a transformative experience.”
After completing his college education in 2019, Daniel found himself exploring various roles in manufacturing. However, it wasn't until he stumbled upon the MANO program that his path took a pivotal turn, immersing him in the field of conservation. This experience opened the door to fostering crucial relationships and gaining the experience needed for a career within federal agencies dedicated to conservation and biodiversity. As a Latino, Daniel recognizes the unique value his multicultural heritage brings to the table and aspires to contribute not only to local conservation efforts in the US and Latin America but also on a global scale.
“I would love to extend my work to Panama. I'm aware of the extensive conservation efforts underway there, and I believe that sharing knowledge and experience could be of immense help.”
As part of his fellowship program, Daniel relocated to South Carolina, where he is stationed, completing an extension of his program. During his experience as a MANO intern, he played a vital role in developing a comprehensive framework, encompassing an 18-month program, aimed at guiding land managers in addressing climate change-related impacts.
“We had to ask crucial questions: What are the climate impacts? Are these impacts immediate threats? What are the available options for mitigation?”
The project was divided into four phases, and the extension of Daniel's fellowship will ensure the successful completion of this vital work.
Each fellow had the responsibility of crafting a tailored report for their respective station. The reports offered a granular perspective on the anticipated changes in climate and their effects on specific land parcels. Subsequently, these documents presented recommendations on feasible mitigation strategies. The result was a climate-smart document that aids in the management of critical habitats while providing a framework for the implementation of those management actions.
Daniel's contributions to this project are crucial, as they shed light on future projections of climate change and their implications for habitat management. Notably, his work extended to the COP28 fact sheet on Latino heritage at risk from climate change. In collaboration with other members of the Hispanic Access Foundation network, he focused on developing quantitative aspects of the fact sheet, which included specific statistics derived from surveys and polls concerning Latinos in the United States and their views on climate change.
“I wanted to spotlight the communities inhabiting these landscapes and the reasons we should be deeply concerned about these threats. It was invigorating to be part of such a diverse and interdisciplinary team.”
For Daniel, being part of a community that strives to achieve positive changes to mitigate climate-related effects is the most rewarding aspect of his line of work. He underscores the importance of cultivating multidimensional relationships within the conservation community, one that extends to the Latino community, family, friends, and beyond.
“When you are part of a community, you must be aware of your surroundings, both in the landscape and in the social state. If conservation work is going to move forward, it isn't from the top-down; you must start from the community level.”