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Creating Opportunities in Conservation | Hispanic Heritage Month

September 19, 2022
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How do you inspire the next generation of conservationists? By pairing them with mentors from similar backgrounds.

Hispanic and Latino youth in Omaha, Nebraska, can look to mentors like husband and wife Abraham and Daisy Mora. Abraham is the team manager for Siembra Nebraska at the Latino Center of the Midlands. Daisy is the operations program coordinator for The Nature Conservancy.

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The Value of Representation

hispanic heritage month daisy and abraham

As kids, both Daisy and Abraham loved the outdoors.

“I remember watching Bill Nye, I was a part of Boy Scouts. It really homed in that I wanted to do something in outdoor settings,” Abraham said. “College exposed me to the science by conducting research.”

Today, Abraham works for Siembra Nebraska (siembra means to plant or sow in Spanish). The program provides internships for students aged 16-21 in five areas, multimedia, business, construction, public health and urban agriculture.

The agricultural program is called Siembra Raíces (growing roots). It introduces careers in agriculture and conservation through partnerships with local organizations like Fontenelle Forest. Most importantly, it shows Hispanic and Latino youth how people who look like them and come from similar backgrounds have successful careers in their area of interest.

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“If kids are seeing professionals that look like them, then those barriers of seeing themselves in their careers start to disappear,” Abraham said.

Abraham notes that only 25% of the conservation workforce is Hispanic or Latino and is hopeful for greater representation in the future.

“When there is more representation, everybody gets to reap the benefits of being outdoors. You encourage the communities to be healthier, to go on hikes and really enjoy the outdoors,” Abraham said.

At the Nature Conservancy, Daisy works in an administrative role in operations. Even though people may not initially consider an administrative career to be one in conservation, Daisy notes its importance to supporting those in the field and creating more opportunities to work in conservation.

“It’s important to be a mentor to young kids especially in the roles we have,” Daisy said. “For all the kids who want to be in the outdoor space or in the environmental industry.”

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Abraham agrees noting the impact he’s seen with mentoring Latino and Hispanic youth.

“Everybody kind of gets you because you come from the same background,” Abraham says. “We empower them and give them the courage to have the social skills and interact with everybody else.”

Getting Hispanic and Latino Youth Involved in Nature

Although Abraham and Daisy’s organizations are based in Nebraska, there are many opportunities for Hispanic and Latino youth to be involved in conservation across the nation. Some programs include the Latino Heritage Internship Program created by the National Park Service, and Latino Outdoors.

Daisy and Abraham also encourage youth to get involved in local urban gardens, parks and other outdoor spaces.

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“I think one of the biggest gifts you can give young people is to give them access to the outdoors,” Daisy said. “For us, the fact that growing up that we were outdoors, given that flexibility to explore, really grew that curiosity. As we grew older and wanted to make a career out of this, having that initial start in nature was instrumental. I encourage parents to have their kids exist in the outdoors.”

For youth interested in careers in conservation, Abraham encourages parents to be open-minded to allowing their children to discover various career paths.

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“Allow students to explore the career fields and to be open-minded, because each organization needs administrators, needs all sorts of workers that aren’t hands-on scientists, biologists or worker,” Abraham said. “Explore, see what it looks like and be open-minded with the careers that are available.”

 

Interested in exploring the outdoors? Learn how to discover nature in your community and study up on tips from Peter Gros on how to experience nature at its best.

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