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Then & Now: Celebrating 10 Years of Latino Outdoors

We are proud to join our friends and longtime partners, Latino Outdoors (LO), in celebrating their 10-year anniversary! This year, the LO team launched their "Then & Now" series - a compilation of recollections that will preserve and conserve LO's history, and honor just a few of the many, inspiring individuals who have played a role in the LO community over the years, whether they're just getting started, or have been around since the early days of the movement. Below, you can find a few snippets from the "Then & Now" series. We are looking forward to what the next 10 years has to offer!

A group of people standing atop a trail holding a Latino Outdoors flag Latino Outdoors turns 10! Celebrate Then & Now with the LO community! Image via Latino Outdoors

Christian La Mont

“One thing I’m looking forward to is cultivating and growing the Yo Cuento After all, Latino Outdoors began as a blog in 2013 by José González. As part of the celebration, we will be featuring written reflections from those who have been a part of LO from the early days when the seeds of change were just being planted, including LO’s first National Director, Graciela Cabello, Founder José González, and Founding Board Chairperson, Richard Rojas, Sr. We will also be hearing from newer voices and fresh perspectives who are planting the semillasto take LO into the next 10 years.

These voices will share unique perspectives centered around our anniversary theme of growth. What growth have they seen in Latino Outdoors as a movement and community over the past 10 years? What kind of growth have they experienced or helped nurture in the larger world of equity, access to the outdoors, and conservation? What growth have they experienced within themselves?” Hear more from Christian!

Albert Arevalo

“Unknowingly, these childhood experiences would ultimately shape my own love for the outdoors and encourage me to pursue a career in the outdoors. After graduating from Texas State University (Go Bobcats!) with a bachelor’s in sociology, I decided to take a giant leap of faith and move to Washington, DC. At the time, I felt prepared to tackle the world, but I had no clue how I would go about it. I’d be lying if I said it was easy because it was not. I spent my first few years working odd jobs, and one morning I decided to take a detour and came across a welcome sign for Rock Creek Park. The building was closed, but a ranger opened the building. I spoke to Ranger Einberger, and I mentioned my interest in volunteering my time at the park. He shared his interest in expanding their programmatic and outreach efforts to reach the Latinx community, and I gladly jumped at the opportunity. Thereafter, I’d spend every weekend working the front desk welcoming visitors, and leading environmental programs in Spanish! While I led programs in Spanish, I realized that I rarely interacted with other individuals who looked like me and were doing environmental work as a career. With a click of a mouse and various key phrases later, I stumbled across an interesting organization, Latino Outdoors.” Read more about Albert’s story!

A trail sign, with a black Latino Outdoors hat sitting atop the sign What does the next 10 years hold for LO? Follow along to find out! Image via Michael Ocasio

Laura Flores

“Since volunteering for LO, I have been extended incredible opportunities like becoming an Environmental Education of New Mexico Fellow, trusted to assist with Outdoor FUTURE Initiative, sitting on the board for Mana de Albuquerque, traveling and meeting other dedicated volunteers from across the country, being Wilderness First Aid trained, and most importantly, hosting purposeful outings for our New Mexico youth. As a bonus, I got to try many outdoor activities for the first time. There were times I was nervous because I did not know everything (who does), but these experiences have helped me slow down, respect the learning process, and reframe my appreciation for the outdoors.” Read Laura’s story today!

Josie Gutierrez

“It wasn’t until my girls were young adults that I was blessed with a sweet granddaughter. I had more time to explore and wanted to take her to the parks her mom had enjoyed as a child. The year was 2015, and my granddaughter was four. I was researching the outdoors on social media and discovered Latino Outdoors on Instagram. I saw myself in the images they shared. I noticed they had plenty of beautiful outdoor images of Latinos hiking, camping, backpacking, swimming, fishing y mas. I also noticed none of these images were tagged in Texas. I wanted to be a part of this new community. So, I tagged them every chance I got with outdoor Texas images. Then one day, I got a message on Twitter asking me if I would like to be an Ambassador for Latino Outdoors in San Antonio. It was a quick YES! There was no way I wasn’t going to be a part of this journey.” Hear more from Josie Gutierrez!

Two people wearing orange backpacks walking along a forested trail, with several folks farther ahead on the trail LO's mission is to inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors and embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring our history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented. Image via Vero Miranda

Cassandra Castillo

“My journey over the past decade has been one of healing, growth, surrendering old habits and thoughts, and actualizing new goals and visions. I took a leap and left a 15-year career with a public broadcasting station in San Diego to develop a passion and learn to trust my voice and contribute to redefining the Brown narratives in the outdoors. My participation with Latino Outdoors has influenced and encouraged honing my voice.” Read more about Cassandra’s story!

Jazzari Taylor

"Having the courage to show up to the beach clean-up in 2016 was the best decision I made, not only for my community but also for my health. That summer day, I was welcomed by a handful of volunteers and partners from Latino Outdoors. This left a lasting impression on my outlook on stewarding lands and promoting more accessible outdoor spaces. A growing number of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organizations and individuals showed up and took up space, helping to change the narrative that we have always loved and cared for the outdoors. This set a precedence for a larger network of collaborative partnerships for championing a more equitable outdoors." Read Jazzari's full story!(Se abre en una ventana nueva)

Share Your Story

If you want to learn more about Latino Outdoors, we encourage you to visit the online communities via Instagram(Se abre en una ventana nueva), or subscribe to the Yo Cuento newsletter(Se abre en una ventana nueva)! Do you have a story that you want to share with the Latino Outdoor community? You can submit your story via this link(Se abre en una ventana nueva)! To find an LO community near you - visit their website(Se abre en una ventana nueva) today!

A group of people outside in the snow, gathered around a Latino Outdoors flag Cheers to 10 years, Latino Outdoors! Image via Eddie Negrete