California News Service
LOS ANGELES – The fifth annual Latino Conservation Week kicks off this Saturday with events in California and across the nation. The celebration starts with a launch event hosted by the group Nature for All, cleaning up part of the Los Angeles National Forest.
Jenny Brandt is deputy director of conservation programs with the Hispanic Access Foundation, the group that started the week. She says it’s a chance to feature the communities’ commitment to protecting the environment.
“We started Latino Conservation Week because we wanted to throw a spotlight on the really strong conservation values held by the Latino community,” says Brandt.
Brandt says it’s also a chance for agencies like the National Park Service to showcase nearby parks that Latino families can enjoy. The observance runs through July 22nd. A full list of events is online at ‘latinoconservationweek.com.’
Kimberly Orbe is a graduate of Nature for All’s leadership academy and she’ll be bringing students to Los Angeles National Forest for the Saturday kickoff event. Orbe says learning about public lands and how to appreciate and treat them has a big impact on young people.
“I think that really teaches students and youth ownership of taking care of the land, and I think it’s so beneficial to get all youth across the board,” says Orbe, “whether it’s elementary, middle-school or high-school students – out there to really enjoy what’s theirs, because they grow up not being told that it’s theirs.”
On Saturday night Christine Tamara, San Bernardino County project coordinator with the Hispanic Access Foundation, will be bring kids to the Sky’s the Limit Observatory in Joshua Tree National Park for stargazing; and next Thursday, she’ll lead the Whitewater Preserve River Walk.
Tamara says every time she takes kids out, they get very excited to see wildlife – something they may not have experienced before.
“To experience it live, you know,” says Tamara, “not through a phone or a tablet – I feel like it’s something that they need and also, they get an appreciation of being outside.”
Other California events will be held at the San Gabriel River, San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.