I have way too many stories to talk about, too many experiences that have changed my life thanks to LCW and Hispanic Access Foundation. To see Latino Conservation Week go from the dream of a few and just a handful of events at the beginning with limited budgeting in 2014, to the hundreds of events reaching well over 10,000 people and countless of organizations has been nothing but a miracle in the making.
Through Latino Conservation Week in 2013-2014, we showcased the San Gabriel Mountains to a large group of teenagers and we spoke to them about advocacy and conservation. That day sparked an entire generation of young conversation stewards that helped in the advocacy effort to designate it. On Oct. 10, 2014, President Barack Obama designated 346,177 acres of existing federal lands as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, the eighth national monument under U.S. Forest Service management. Hispanic Access Foundation’s CEO Maite Arce helped to foment and teach us that we as Latinos are not just meant to work the lands, but to help preserve them for generations to come. Through Latino Conservation Week, thousands young Latinos have been empowered to elevate their voices and speak up for the lands–including the designation as National Monuments of Sand to Snow, Castle Mountain and Mojave Trails.
Latino Conservation Week celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and I not only invite you, I urge you to join us in celebrating the 11th anniversary and beyond. To donate today $10 to these life-changing and worthy events that transform the lives of not just people and generations, but are helping to shape our lands for the better. My prayer in the following years is that we just don't celebrate Latino Conservation Week for a week alone, but we make the entire Month of July the month of Latino Conservation and the presidential administration with Hispanic Access Foundation makes that a reality. Congratulations Latino Conservation Week and congratulations to the many partners that make this a possibility.
Written by Martin Martinez Sandoval, Por La Creación Faith Based Alliance and Hispanic Leadership Network Advisory Council member.