I am 8 weeks into my internship and wow! Time has flown! In the last week I have been partnering with my amazing mentors Gaby and Brittany to plan our events for Latino Conservation Week. 

We are putting together two panel discussions for Latino Conservation Week. One of the panels is a youth round table that will discuss the experiences of the young Latin(X) individuals in Conservation. The second panel will be a conversation on inclusivity in Chesapeake Latin(X) Communities. I have no doubt in my mind that both of these panel discussions will be amazing! In the last few weeks we have gathered speakers from the East Coast to speak on the topics of how we can better engage and meet the needs of the communities.

Something I have quickly learned through Anthropology, and continue to learn through my internship is the interconnectedness of the topics of inclusivity, diversity, conservation, climate change and many topics one might not think diversity is connected to. I love making the connections between issues of diversity and stewardship but I also love to acknowledge health and well-being to climate change and population. Gentrification. Marginalization. All these topics are interwebbed to diversity and it is CRUCIAL to learn how to make these connections in order to make change. 

Overall, it has been an amazing 8 weeks. Although I did not expect to work remotely from my little jungle (my room), I am still having a very unique experience that I am significantly grateful for. 

One last topic I want to mention is my community engagement plan Lost in the Parks. I have interviewed NPS rangers across the nation from Yosemite, Sequoia, and even an amazing Regional Cultural Anthropologist from D.C. Also, I interviewed the two amazing Co-hosts Matt and Brad Kirouac of Hello Ranger Podcast! I have been a big fan and long-time listener of their previous podcast Parklandia where they talked about their experiences within and around National Parks in their RV. This year, Matt and Brad decided to take their podcast in a different direction and discuss National Parks and celebrate the communities that are also experiencing the National Parks! Our conversation went so enlightening and inspiring. They also asked to interview me for the Hello Ranger podcast so I am beyond thrilled for what is to come!!!

I am so excited to share the powerful messages they have to say! Talk to you all soon! 

Best, always, 

 West Coast Girl, Sheila. 



Published in EFTA intern blog

Lost in the Parks 


Chesapeake will get its lead role this summer!


But, before I get started on telling you all about the BIG news, I want to share the background story.
I had a virtual meeting with Mathew John, Audio Production Specialist for the National Park Service. I shared about
my journey as an outdoor enthusiast, my educational background and passion for environmental science and he
shared his experience with the National Park Service, his background and how he has accomplished many of his
dreams! So, we set up a follow up meeting and let me tell you, wonderful things are in the making for my final
project, and I could have not been where I am now without Mathew!


I talked with Mathew about feeling lost with the direction of my project. I discussed how passionate I am about
culture and the outdoors and how I did not know exactly how I was going to be successful in writing a literature
review on a community I will most likely not get to interact with this summer. Since I am working from home, I have
been interacting virtually with the wonderful staff in many parks here in the West Coast, trying to research and
assemble ideas on how we can better engage the LatinX community, but the most important thing is missing. I am
not able to reach and interact with my audience at the moment. This made me feel lost. I was beginning to doubt
my capability. Mathew listened and suggested something wonderful! He admired the fact that I was doing this work
all the way from California and told me, “Let's make a video vlog. Let's continue with your project, let's have the
same goal, but instead of a literature review, or apart from the literature review, let’s document and record the
interviews you are having with the California partners and turn it into an emotional but empowering video that will
bring media attention to not just you and your project, but that will shed light on Lostness.” We decided to name the
video Lost in the Parks, and if that is not brilliant, I do not know what brilliant is! Mathew and I decided to go further
with the video, which hopefully someday can become a series. Overall, we want the video to truly capture my
experience, my project, and my feelings, all while also spreading awareness, gaining advocates and encouraging
stewardship. 


Lost in the Parks will focus on three categories to tie in the overall theme: 1. Feeling lost with the overall direction of
my internship, 2. The NPS/Chesapeake Bay difficulty helping me connect with the parks from a distance, due to
COVID, and 3. The NPS struggling to connect and engage the LatinX community. 
Also, I have to admit, that I am a bit starstruck, because if you have not already checked out Mathew’s work, I highly
encourage you to watch his content. His video “Yeah, We’re Beautiful” is amazing. He is truly one of the most
talented individuals I have ever worked with, and I am beyond grateful that I have the opportunity to work with him
this summer. I cannot wait to see the finished project. Next blog, I will shed more light on the amazing work Mathew
has done and how our project is coming along!


Thanks for tuning in this week! West Coast Girl...Sheila.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 19 June 2020 07:36

Aventura, Casita!

This week was HUGE! It was a successful week, but most importantly, it was inspiring and emotional. I have dived right into my Community Engagement Plan. To start off, I will explain a little bit about what the community engagement plan is, what is its purpose and where it is heading.

The community engagement plan consists of researching and assembling best practices for engaging the Hispanic community to encourage and raise stewardship awareness.

The purpose of the community engagement plan is to learn how to work together towards a better future for the Chesapeake Bay.

The community engagement plan will benefit both park visitors and staff members. We want to make sure we are interacting and better serving our Spanish-speaking visitors. This plan will help staff learn about the community and it will also allow park visitors learn about the wonders of the Bay.

So, with that being said, I must work on developing a community engagement plan FOR Maryland, FROM California. How exactly am I doing that, you ask? Well as my mother always says, “¡Todo se puede!”

Since I am not able to engage with the Hispanic community in Maryland at the moment, I decided to reach out to National Parks, State Parks, and many different organizations within CA that have already had successful engagement with the Hispanic community.

I made a massive list of potential California partners that can guide me and advise me on my community engagement plan and sent out about 20 emails in less than an hour.

First on my list, Yosemite. You might have guessed this if you know me very well! I contacted YNP and luckily, in a few days I was on a video call with Laura Goforth, Branch Chief of Education and Community Engagement for Yosemite!

Turns out Laura has made a huge break though with her own engagement plan “Aventura Yosemite.” I asked her questions about her experience, what worked, what didn’t work! Let me tell you, it was inspiring! Yosemite is special to me and I was so happy to hear about the amazing things her staff is doing to welcome us, educate us, and engage us! I grew up in Yosemite and I remember how difficult it was at first getting in and out of the park because we were just kids and my parents were not always entirely sure about reservations, visitor centers, trails, safety, and stewardship! Now, I know the park like the back of my hand, but I recognize that many still do not and it takes people like Laura and her team to have the passion and motivation to make a difference! I was truly inspired by Laura and I cannot wait to meet her in person!

It is my third week as an LHIP intern, and I have already made some very strong bonds with rangers all around the country! I want to mention one last thing. I have been challenged. I am one of the biggest introverts. I used to be the type of person who would say “No, you go ask, I’m shy.” I would never ask anyone anything, I was not outspoken. Chesapeake has changed me and I am eternally grateful for that because if I hadn’t taken the initiative to reach out, network, and form these relationships, I would have missed out on some very inspiring and meaningful conversations! Pat on the back for me, I’ve made a breakthrough! Thank you LHIP.

Published in EFTA intern blog

I would like to apologize in advance, this week’s blog will be brief. It has been a difficult time in our country. It is a time of frustration, pain, and activism. With the most recent events, I can not help but realize that NOW is the perfect time to stay motivated, fight for justice and spread diversity, inclusivity, and peace. I have come to realize and reflect on my journey. How grateful I am for getting the opportunity to work alongside the staff I work with. I have come to realize how every moment of my life has prepared me for the work I am doing with the National Park Service and its partners from the Chesapeake. It is rewarding to see how past experiences that I might have characterized as irrelevant or insignificant were not insignificant at all. All the pieces are falling into place. My heart is in the right place. My mind is in the right place. I am proud to say that I am exactly where I want to be in my career. Even though it is just the beginning and that times are difficult, I am so proud of what I have accomplished. I promise to keep you updated in next weeks blog about the amazing projects I am working on, but for the time being, I want to end this blog with a powerful message from one of my favorite books and if you have not already read it, do it now! 

 

“There are no bonds so strong as those which are formed by suffering together.”

            Harriet Ann Jacobs in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Published in EFTA intern blog

Hola, ¡bienvenidos!

First and foremost, I want to take the time to express my gratitude. I am the daughter of Gerardo Garcia, a humble, adventurous man from Jojutla, Morelos and daughter of Justina Garcia, the compassionate, bold woman from Acapulco, Guerrero. My parents immigrated to California in search of a life with greater opportunities. They have never stopped striving to provide me with the best quality of life. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I have been given and beyond excited for the journey I have begun. My parents continue to inspire me and motivate me in ways unimaginable, so thank you mama y papa!

My first week as the DHA Resource and Communications Assistant for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Water trails Network has already been one of the most exhilarating times of my life. Due to the pandemic, I am not able to travel to the park site yet, I am currently working from my little sacred jungle (my bedroom, I collect tropical houseplants). However, this does not at all mean it is not equally exciting. In fact, it has been rather rewarding to learn about the East Coast from my little West Coast jungle.

I have had daily virtual meetings with my site supervisors Brittany and Gabrielle. They have been exceptionally welcoming, and I am thrilled to have such amazing mentors. I have spent my first week learning about the history, wildlife, and landscape of Chesapeake. I got to virtually meet the rest of the interns and the rest of the talented staff I will be working with. I can already sense the amazing things we can accomplish together in hopes of promoting stewardship within the Chesapeake Bay area. This has been a time of discovery and brainstorming. I have countless ideas spurring up in my mind about how I want to reach out to the Hispanic community in Annapolis, Maryland. The more I read about the missions and goals of the partners within Chesapeake, the more motivated I feel to start creating tools to get the community involved in America’s National Parks and environmental stewardship! I am eager to experience, grow, and develop new skills in hopes of making a difference.  Chesapeake, you might be across the country, but you have already impacted me in the most rewarding way. California was my gateway to the enthusiasm I have for the National Park Service and I am eager to see what my passion will fuel in the Chesapeake Bay. Stick around my friends, this will be epic.

 

 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 24 April 2020 00:02

Sheila Lucero Garcia

I am currently a senior at California Baptist University. I am majoring in Anthropology with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology. I have extensive education in Anthropology and Environmental Science. My interest in this program comes from my passion as well as from the overall mission of the National Park Service. I have always been interested in protecting the environment and always strive to be a steward of the environment. In the last four years of my educational goals, I have learned to have an appreciation and passion for Anthropology. Culture is fascinating to me in every way and in my opinion, it is important for it to be preserved just as much as the environment. This program can give me the opportunity to put my expertise and experience to work within the NPS, which has been a lifelong career goal for me. In terms of professional interest, this opportunity can give me the chance to learn about the National Park Service and the many different branches of working towards conservation and preservation. This opportunity can give me a chance to make a difference in the stewards of the environment. Being a part of sharing my knowledge about protecting, preserving, and conserving can have a great impact on the Hispanic community in Annapolis, MD. I am eager to learn from this experience as well as assist in the program with my expertise and education. As mentioned, this is a lifelong career goal and I am honored to have this opportunity. I am excited to see what this opportunity brings for the Hispanic community in Maryland!

 

Published in Intern Bios