“My dad instilled with me the love for the outdoors. He taught me to respect the landscape. My jefito taught me to respect and conserve nature. My dad is a conservationist not by profession, but by heart,” Rosas reminisced.
When he was young, he would often find refuge in Massacre Canyon, a nearby canyon that was close enough to his home, but far enough from the noise of the city. Rosas’ fondest childhood memories stem from this canyon and just being in the outdoors. Before he became Christian, he found that the canyon provided a place of reflection for him, similar to how Jesus Christ found solace in nature. He felt that the outdoors provided peace and joy, something that urban areas, like his hometown of San Jacinto, lacked. This inspired him to try his best to get his family and congregation to the outdoors.
One day in 2017, changed his perspective on community outreach and getting inner-city youth to the outdoors. His peer, Pastor Martin Martinez, reached out asking if he would like to take his youth group fishing. Rosas’ mind immediately went to the financial cost of this trip. His group often lacked funding to do most activities, let alone a fishing trip off the coast of southern California for a large group. Martinez quickly reassured him the costs would be covered by Hispanic Access Foundation. Prior to this, Rosas had never heard of the Foundation and thought, what was the catch?
There was no catch. The entire trip would be covered as part of a celebration event of Latino Conservation Week and getting young kids to the outdoors. Rosas described the moment as life-changing for most of his youth. One even caught a mako shark. After seeing the success that the event had in his community, Rosas decided to continue volunteering with Hispanic Access through their Por La Creación Faith-Based Alliance. He knew that the organization was unique in that they put Latino communities first.
“Everything that Hispanic Access stands for is the American dream for me because of the work they do to help communities.”
After seeing the impact Hispanic Access makes on people’s lives, he decided to apply to join the organization. Now, he serves as a Conservation Program Associate for Hispanic Access Foundation under the Wyss Program. He continues to work on Por La Creación, now recruiting new members from all faith backgrounds across the country.
Juan also continues to find and create opportunities, like the fishing trip he went on, for other Latino congregations in California. Juan is proud to have lived in San Jacinto his whole life and works to make the outdoors more accessible for nature-deprived communities, primarily communities of color. He was recently selected by Secretary Wade Crowfoot as a California’s 30x30 Partnership Coordinating Committee member. Juan is for his comunidad and carries the torch forward for future generations.
Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Juan Rosas, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation