Teach the mind, touch the heart

By: Jessica Godinez

As suddenly as an afternoon thunderstorm in the mountains after a morning of clear, bright skies, the summer has started and quickly almost passed. Since moving out here, I’ve been anxious for the summer – for hiking in the mountains, climbing in the Canyon, travel all around, and for all the wonderful, inspiring events and programs I’d get to be a part of. Now, almost August, it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end. August, too, promises to be just as exciting and busy, but nearing the end of the summer months, I am filled with gratitude and appreciation for the things I’ve gotten to be a part of thus far.

Although my work keeps me busy and constantly moving, I’m consistently empowered by the ideas and goals my work aims aspires to reach. Through our partnerships and our community, we strive to inspire a more diverse workforce, ensure equitable and inclusive access to the outdoors, and to empower communities and leaders. It seems like a given – that every and anyone can recreate and enjoy our public lands without barriers, but it’s unfortunately not as easy as it should be. Although not legal barriers, many other circumstances get in the way of enjoying public lands: lack knowledge, gear or money, time, among others. Often, the outdoors are seen as a “white space", whether because of advertising and marketing campaigns or general belief, making it harder for people of color to feel welcome in these outdoor spaces. Eliminating these barriers has become important to me in the way I do my work and I am grateful to get to learn about, meet, and work with amazing organizations striving to reach the same goal, like Hispanic Access Foundation, Brown Girls Climb, Environmental Learning for Kids, and Promotores Verdes – just to name a few. 

From assisting with logistics for big, interagency events like National Get Outdoors Day to interactive and interpretative field trips on Mt. Evans, every program I’ve participated in and every program I’ve designed have reminded me of how fortunate of a position I have. Not only have I gotten to meet some amazing, empowered youth throughout the summer, but I’ve gotten to work with some inspiring adults and seniors and learned how powerful interpretation can be. It’s the little things that stick – like hearing that learning about the Bristlecone in Spanish makes her appreciate the mountain so much more. The smiles on inspired kids’ faces and the hugs of gratitude from abuelas remind me that I love what I’m doing and I hope to always do work that learns from and with the community to inspire and empower the community. 

Brandon Caley recently taught me, “teach the minds, touch the hearts,” and this summer, I’ve truly learned to use that notion to empower myself to reach the goals I’ve set for myself in this position. If I’ve felt overwhelmed by the whirlwind this summer has been, I am grounded by the idea that teaching absolutely touches hearts. That being said, August promises to be just as busy, exciting, and enlightening as the rest of the summer and I can’t wait.

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