Everything You Need to Know About Latino Conservation Week

Latino Conservation Week BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of waba.org

Created in 2014 with nine events on its schedule, Latino Conservation Week is an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), created to support the Latino community in enjoying the outdoors and protecting our natural resources at the same time.

During this week, community, non-profit, faith-based, and government organizations and agencies hold events across the country, HAF explained. From hiking and camping to community roundtables and film screenings, these activities promote conservation efforts in their community and provide an opportunity for Latinos to show their support for the ongoing protection of natural resources.

By 2019, Latino Conservation Week boasted more than 160 events nationwide. The initiative has boosted the presence of Latinos on conservation issues, both in the media and at decision-making tables.

This 2021, communities across the country can celebrate the return to “normalcy” by reconnecting with the outdoors during the seventh annual Latino Conservation Week, July 18-26.

With a hybrid program of virtual activities, film screenings, and outdoor experiences, this year’s Latino Conservation Week features nearly 100 events across the country.

“Latino communities are passionate about the outdoors and hold a strong belief that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards,” said Maite Arce, President, and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Latino Conservation Week helps break down barriers for Latino communities to access public lands and waters, encourages new opportunities for engagement, and inspires the next generation of environmental stewards.”

Although Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the United States — with more than 52 million people representing 16.7% of the country’s population — a 2018 Outdoor Industry Association report found that only 10% of Latinos engage in any outdoor recreational activity.

As HAF explains, the future of public lands depends on engaging and welcoming our diverse youth and Latino communities who already care deeply about our environment and feel a moral obligation to care for it.

“At a time when Latinos are disproportionately suffering from COVID-19, we need nature and the benefits it provides, now more than ever,” said Shanna Edberg, Hispanic Access Foundation’s director of conservation programs. “While the pandemic revealed and exacerbated deep inequities in access to green space, Latino Conservation Week events — from the virtual conversations and activities to on-the-ground hikes, birdwatching, picnics, and neighborhood cleanups — are bringing this issue to the forefront and helping to bridge that gap.”

This year the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Wildlife Refuge System are joining forces with Hispanic Access Foundation’s MANO Project to provide programming virtually and at sites throughout the nation. More than 200 parks, organizations, and community groups have joined Latino Conservation Week as partners and sponsors. Event partners include Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Corazon Latino, Denver Aquarium, Defenders of Wildlife, Frontera Land Alliance, HECHO, Inland Empire Resource Conservation District, LA Nature for All, Latino Heritage Internship Program, Latino Outdoors, National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wilderness Workshop, and numerous Audubon Society chapters.

Activities span several states, and a complete list of events is available here. Whatever activity you decide to do this year, remember to follow the principles for responsible recreation: be informed, plan, explore locally, practice social distancing, leave no trace, and build an inclusive outdoors.