03 October 2022

MANO Project Interns, Alumni Nationwide Connect to the Outdoors During Latino Conservation Week

Written by: Evelyn

As we look back at this year’s Latino Conservation Week, it’s been exciting to see how it’s grown this year–from partners to network members.

This year, it was celebrated across the nation with a record-breaking number of more than 220 events. Hispanic Access Foundation launched Latino Conservation Week in 2014 to support the Latino community getting into the outdoors and participating in activities to protect our natural resources. During this week, community, nonprofit and for-profit, faith-based, and government organizations and agencies hold events throughout the country.

While we encourage our MANO Project alumni and current interns to celebrate, this year they really blew it out of the park. Through camping trips, hikes, fishing events, our MANO Project network celebrated Latino Conservation Week and showed their support for protecting our natural resources.

Fabiola Torres is a MANO Project Alumna who served as an Interagency National Monument Fellow for the U.S. Forest Service in 2017. Since then, Fabiola has stayed connected to Hispanic Access Foundation by participating in various councils and organizing events for Latino Conservation Week annually. This year, Fabiola’s non-profit, Conservation Opportunity, collaborated with Finca Semila, LLC. to engage the deaf community towards the significance of agriculture, local production, and conservation. According to the Institute of Statistics of the Government of Puerto Rico, 8.4% of the adult population on the island identify as deaf or have a grand difficulty for hearing. Additionally, the island lacks access to services and activities that this community deserves. This event served as a safe and spirited space for those interested in a hands-on agronomical experience, where the deaf community could participate without barriers. The event included a fieldwork session where participants did hands-on work to learn about growing cocoa and other products at the farm and its greenhouse. It also included a scientific station, where the public learned the plant’s harvesting procedures from start to finish, with a microscopic approach to the flora present at the farm. At the end, attendees received a “sweet goodbye” with a professional tasting of the chocolate made at the farm.

Jackie Dias is a current MANO Project intern for the National Park Service’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR). Her passion for the outdoors led her to co-founding the Western Massachusetts chapter of Latino Conservation. For Latino Conservation Week this year she hosted an event in collaboration with Latino Outdoors (LO) named “Naturaleza y Comunidad.” Participants were guided through the popular free nature app iNaturalist, which allows you to share information with the global community on wild plants and animals in your area. They learned how to use the app, what it is used for, and where the data collection goes. The participants were split into groups and taken on a short walk led by LO leaders, to identify local bugs, birds, plants, and trees. When we use iNaturalist to identify a plant, animal or insect - the information helps scientists and conservation professionals all over the world.

Gabriela Youngken was a 2022 MANO Project intern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Directorate Fellowship Program at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. During Latino Conservation Week, she took a large role in helping with the collaboration between the USFWS and the Direct Descendants of Harris Neck Community (DDHNC) for the 2nd Commemoration of the 1942 Harris Neck Community Diaspora in Harris Neck, Georgia. The event took place at the First African Missionary Baptist Church of Harris Neck and the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. This year was the 80th anniversary of the Harris Neck Community Diaspora.
The purpose of this event was not only to commemorate the 1942 Harris Neck Diaspora, but also highlight the community unity between the Harris Neck Community members and the USFWS. The USFWS was very instrumental in the event being a resounding success, including the planning and setup of the event. The USFWS plans to continue the progress made in Harris Neck to build a stronger relationship with the community.

To learn more about Latino Conservation Week 2023 and stay updated on next year’s events visit

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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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