Strength in Diversity

Monday, May 30 2016 Written by

A single tree in the tropical forest in the South of Mexico has more different species than some European countries.  -Carlos Salinas de Gortari

Whether this is a true statement is beyond the scope of this post, but this quote appealed to me for its prideful nature (characteristic of my Chicana heritage) and more importantly, for its value of diversity. This summer, I have been granted the privilege of working with the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in Oregon.

My name is Melissa Nohemi Vergara. The first time I went to the out-of-doors, I was fifteen years old. The unrivaled beauty, peace, and uniqueness I found in nature fueled a passion for the protection and adoration of green spaces. After completing a forestry certificate, I decided to delve further by working towards a Bachelor’s in Plant Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. In my journey, I discovered Outward Bound Adventures, a non-profit organization that strives to introduce underrepresented youth in the greater LA county to the out-of-doors.  My experiences with Outward Bound Adventures had me reflect about the lack of accessibility I had to wilderness spaces growing up in the metropolitan city of Los Angeles. Despite the cultural connection that my Mexican culture has with nature, minorities have been typically absent from visiting wilderness spaces in the United States. Outward Bound Adventures was the most rewarding experience -- where I learned the true value of diversity.   This summer, I hope to work with urban youth to guide them into the valuable experience of being in nature while providing quality environmental education to the best of my ability. My hopes are that they too, will be inspired by everything nature has to offer.
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