This post is part of of short summer series featuring blog posts from our Hispanic Access Foundation interns. Today, we are hearing from JoAnna Marlow and Abraham Lopez Trejo, who spent the summer at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland. Read more posts in the series here.
First up, JoAnna:
With the help of our coworkers and staff, we held several events for Latino Conservation Week. Our highlighted event was a bilingual tram tour guided by either myself, or Abraham. To advertise this event, we printed tram tour flyers and went out into the community to places like Casa de Maryland, a couple of Latino youth centers, and libraries. Another event we have planned was a program with Monarch Global Academy. Along with environmental education and interpretation sessions held at their location, we brought them to the refuge during Latino Conservation Week for a day of fun. At first, I was nervous about going out and trying to make all these connections with the community, but people were friendly and welcoming. I learned that talking to people in person and being able to show them how you feel and express what your mission is goes a long way, much longer than communicating via email.
Abraham and I also helped Chelsea Miller, another intern at Patuxent, with her summer minicamps. There were two types of two-day minicamps: Animal Adaptations and Wonderful Wetlands. Each minicamp was taught to two different age groups: 5-7 year-olds, and 8-10 year-olds. It was awesome seeing how excited those kids were each day! They all had something different to say when they were asked what their favorite part of the camp was. On the last day of each camp, the kids were able to go fishing on the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge. A great thing about minicamps is that they are free, which usually isn’t the case, or at least not the case at various nature centers/estuaries I have visited. I love the accessibility of all the programs at Patuxent because enjoying nature and environmental education shouldn’t be costly.
Abraham and I also participated as volunteers at the fourth annual BioBlitz at Masonville Cove, and it was a successful day for data collection with the help of citizens, scientists, naturalists, and other volunteers. We walked around to each station to and talked with other volunteers about what they were identifying and recording around the Masonville Cove environment. While walking around Masonville Cove, Jennie, our supervisor, helped us identify an Orchard Oriole! We learned about the difference between the Orchard Oriole and the famous Baltimore Oriole, as well as their different sounds.
Karen Mullins, with Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, and Jennie took us on a tour through South Baltimore to help us gather ideas on different types of outreach projects we could start throughout the summer. We gathered ideas based off various community projects around the city. We also had the privilege of talking to the Carroll & Gwynns Falls Parks District Manager from the Baltimore Department of Recreation & Parks about making parts of the parks friendlier for the public.
Time flies at Patuxent! I have learned a lot about project planning and what working in a partnership requires. As well, it has been a personal journey in which I have learned to become better organized and more aware of time constraints. It has been a truly holistic experience where we have learned to be flexible but assertive at the same time when planning events, and connecting with people.
One of the highlights of my time at Patuxent, and one of my personal enjoyments, was going into Latino neighborhoods to find new “amigos” (friends) and possible future partnerships. While looking for possible places to drop some flyers for our events we came across the Latino American and Multicultural Youth Centers in the DC-Maryland. All the people we met at these centers made us feel truly welcomed. We shook hands and exchanged numbers but even more important, we shared our goals and dreams.
It was refreshing to meet likeminded people who care about the wellbeing of their community. While at these meetings, we found their excitement to work with Service and Hispanic Access Foundation to teach our Latino community how to conserve the environment and contribute to a better future. There is a lot of potential for a future fruitful partnership, but in the meantime, we created some long-lasting connections.