Category Archives: Uncategorized


Local Environmental Champion


Naturally Latinos Local Environmental Champion Carlos Lam

Carlos Lam

Founder & President, Asociación Guatemaltecos Sin Fronteras

Director of Community Outreach, Defensores de la Cuenca

As Founder and President of the Asociación Guatemaltecos Sin Fronteras, Carlos Lam works tirelessly to support the underserved in the Latino community. He runs campaigns to assist those in need after natural disasters in Central America and to assist communities at home hit hard by COVID-19. Lam’s activism does not stop there. He is the Director of Community Outreach for Defensores de la Cuenca, an organization that is dedicated to connecting the Latine community with the natural world.

Lam, whose community activism began at a young age in Guatemala, has been serving underrepresented communities for most of his life. His gateway into community advocacy began in his early teens, during Las Posadas, when he was invited by church youth to participate in a gift drive for children. That experience led him to participate in community outreach through the church, that led to a series of events that brought him and his advocacy to the United States.

Lam, who studied political science, philosophy, and theology, in addition to spending five years studying to become a Catholic Priest, understood that his calling was to participate in the Latino community to support social justice and grow community participation in environmental issues. He worked for over a decade and a half in the non-profit sector across Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica promoting socio-economic equity. In Guatemala, he worked to keep young people out of gangs and away from drugs by running youth camps and coordinating recreational activities, all while sharing the importance of taking care of the Earth. Lam also worked on a UNESCO project promoting the culture of Guatemala and peace building in a torn community. “This was important because after 35 years of conflict in Guatemala, there was a lot of division, so I worked teaching communication and tolerance,” says Lam. Lack of economic opportunities and violence toward Lam’s family, including the murder of his younger brother, led him to the decision to immigrate to the US in 2004.

Drawing from his life’s work, Lam integrates environmental conservation into the Latino community and by connecting the community, the culture, and the environment, he has created capacity across the Maryland and DC region for Latinx participation, “We cannot talk about any of the things without the other, it’s all connected.” He has focused his efforts and talents on supporting the Latinx community and environmental stewardship at local and region levels, throughout the DC metropolitan region. As a partner of regional conservation organizations, such as the Anacostia Watershed Society, he has connected Latinx businesses with area festivals such as the Festival del Rio Anacostia. His connections have put aspects of Guatemalan culture, such as music and folk dancing in the spotlight. As Director of Community Outreach for Defensores de la Cuenca, he has been able to connect his humanitarian efforts within the Latino community with his passion for environmental advocacy. Lam enriches the community by connecting the public with regional greenspaces, coordinating outreach events, and encouraging members of Latinx communities to become environmental stewards. His work unifying the social and environmental spheres is what makes him a Naturally Latinos Environmental Champion. 


Naturally Latinos 3 - Karen Ramos

National Environmental Champion


Naturally Latinos National Environmental Champion Karen Ramos

Karen Ramos

Founder, Get Out Stay Out/Vamos Afuera and

Karen Ramos is a social media influencer who advocates for Latinx people and Indigenous peoples and their representation in the conservation field. Previously self-described as a “non activist, non radical, white washed, “normal” person, who didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, offend anyone, or stir the pot…” Ramos had an awakening which led her to come to terms with the insecurities and the trauma of discrimination she faced as a person of color. Growing from that experience, she found the courage and energy she needed to form the nonprofit Get Out Stay Out/Vamos Afuera, an organization committed to serving migrant indigenous populations of the Central Coast. From there, Nature Chola was born.

Nature Chola is a platform that Ramos built to amplify a variety of social and environmental justice issues. Accessibility, #FakeVanLife, and being a person of color in the great outdoors, are just a few of the topics she covers. Ramos says that “navigating this space is truly a privilege” and that she is learning daily and failing, but learning from those fails. Her humility, influence, and advocacy for people of color in green spaces are what make her a Naturally Latinos Environmental Champion.


Naturally Latinos 3 - Carlos Sanchez

Youth Environmental Champion


Naturally Latinos Youth Environmental Champion Carlos Sanchez Gonzalez

Carlos Sanchez Gonzalez

Sophomore, Benjamin Franklin High School

Carlos Sanchez Gonzalez is currently a sophomore at Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore City.  In early 2019, he began his journey with Free Your Voice, a youth advocacy group that focuses on human rights and the struggle for environmental justice. 

Carlos and his colleagues helped to form the South Baltimore Community Land Trust which is a tool used to address the vacant and blighted land that we see throughout the city. In addition, Carlos and the other members of Free Your Voice were instrumental in the creation of the very first Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste which places an emphasis on equity and ensuring underserved communities are no longer dumping grounds. 

From his involvement, Carlos has been actively advocating for and testifying at city council hearings about the need to end incineration in Baltimore City and pursue a Zero Waste Future.  Carlos has always been a leader in his community and continues to advocate for clean air, which is a human right.   

Carlos has been featured in various films including Unbreathable and most recently was featured in the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Master Zero Waste Plan video. 


Jorge Bogantes Montero

Jorge Bogantes Montero

Natural Resources Specialist, Anacostia Watershed Society

Jorge Bogantes Montero is a Natural Resources Specialist at the Anacostia Watershed Society in Bladensburg, MD. He leads ecological restoration efforts on public parklands in the Anacostia River watershed, including wetland restoration, tree plantings, meadow creation, SAV propagation, mussel propagation, wildlife monitoring, and invasive plant management.

Mr. Bogantes Montero earned his Bachelor's degree in Natural Resource Management and Protection at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia in San Jose, Costa Rica, his native country. Before moving to the U.S., Jorge worked in Costa Rica on tropical biodiversity conservation. 


Serenella Linares

Manager of Virtual Programs, Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS)

Co-Chair, Naturally Latinos

As Manager of Virtual Programs at Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and Co-Chair of Naturally Latinos, Serenella Linares is dedicated to sparking curiosity about nature and inspiring nature stewardship through environmental education. Serenella is known around ANS for being an expert in two things: making learning fun (for children and adults) and mycology (mushroom knowledge).  

Serenella Linares has been working with ANS since 2015 and was recently promoted to Virtual Programs Manager. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Linares developed a series of virtual programs that included bilingual videos that could be used as educational tools for both English and Spanish speakers simultaneously. Serenella also manages the Naturalist Hour talks series, in which experts and nature enthusiasts come together to learn and stay connected online. Her previous work at ANS includes collaborating with schools to deliver curriculum-based environmental education programs, establishing field trip scholarships for title one schools and Spanish speaking children at ANS, and teaching nature-themed summer camps. 

Prior to joining ANS, Ms. Linares worked as an assistant park naturalist with the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation from 2011-2016 at an urban nature center serving predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Universidad Metropolitana de Puerto Rico, a Master’s degree in atmospheric science from Howard University, and graduate training in mycology from University of Maryland. When Ms. Linares is not teaching, she explores urban natural areas, photographs plants, insects, and fungi, and participates in citizen science projects. 


Naturally Latinos 3 - Alonso Abugattas

Regional Environmental Champion


Naturally Latinos Regional Environmental Champion Alonso Abugattas

Alonso Abugattas

The Capital Naturalist

Alonso Abugattas has worked as a professional naturalist and environmental interpreter in several jurisdictions, including Alexandria, Fairfax, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and finally in Arlington, where he served as the acting director for Long Branch Nature Center, later becoming the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County.

He’s an instructor for five master naturalist chapters, teaching classes in Maryland and Virginia, and made a master naturalist for his role in starting two chapters. Hes a former officer holding various positions in the Virginia Native Plant Society, including president of the Potowmack Chapter. A member of the identification team for the Virginia Herpetological Society, he wrote a natural history and identification book, The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families awarded Alonso a “Connect With Kids’ Champion”.

Longtime Co-Chair of the Beltway Chapter of the National Association for Interpretation (the professional organization for naturalists and others who interpret resources), Alonso is a Certified Heritage Interpreter, receiving regional and national awards, including the Regional Interpretive Manager of the Year and the national Master Interpretive Manager. 

As The Capital Naturalist on social media, Alonso shares his insights, on the natural world. Some of the wonders of the natural world found right around the Washington, DC Metropolitan area are explored using his own photography and life-long experiences. He was awarded the Thomas Say Interpretive Media Award for his social media outlets: Capital Naturalist Blog, Capital Naturalist YouTube Channel, Capital Naturalist Facebook Group, and @CapNaturalist on Twitter.  

Alonso is also the Co-Chair for the Beltway Chapter of the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), the professional organization for naturalists, historians, and others who interpret resources. Through NAI, Alonso is a Certified Heritage Interpreter and has received regional and national awards, including the Regional Interpretive Manager of the Year and the national Master Interpretive Manager both in 2018. He is also the Co-Chair for the Beltway Chapter of the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), the professional organization for naturalists, historians, and others who interpret resources.  

NL3 Natali Fani-González

Naturally Latinos 3 - Natali Fani-González

Keynote Speaker


Naturally Latinos 3 - Natali Fani-Gonzalez

Natali Fani-González

Vice-Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board

Appointed in October 2014, Natali Fani-González is the Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board and the first Latinx and first millennial to serve on the five-member Board. Since her appointment, Natali has made significant contributions to the Board, Planning Department and Department of Parks to engage diverse communities. She has been involved with several planning efforts, including the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, 2016 Subdivision Staging Policy, Montgomery Village Master Plan, Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan, Veirs Mills Corridor Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan. In April 2018, she participated in the national conference of the American Planning Association on a panel about public outreach for hard-to-reach audiences and has been a speaker at several regional planning events.

Her passion for community advocacy has prompted Natali Fani-González to speak about civil rights and economic justice on noteworthy occasions such as the 40th Anniversary of the March on Washington. She has been the recipient of several prestigious awards: Washingtonian Magazine honored Natali as one of the “40 Under 40” Changemakers in the Washington D.C. Region and then named her as a “Woman to Watch.”  In 2017, the DC metro area’s largest Spanish language newspaper, El Tiempo Latino, recognized Natali Fani-González as one of the 100 most influential individuals for the DC Hispanic community. She received the Montgomery Women’s Rising Star Award.

Natali Fani-González is a member of the Transition Team for Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and a member of the “More Affordable and Welcoming County” committee. Natali was Vice-Chair of the Transition Team for former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III.

While on the Planning Board, Natali is a Public Engagement executive leading impactful grassroots efforts and multimillion-dollar campaigns across the nation. Natali graduated from Goucher College and completed professional studies at Georgetown University. She lives with her husband and children in Wheaton.

NL3 Jose Gonzalez

Naturally Latinos 3 - José G. González

Keynote Speaker


Naturally Latinos 3 - José G. González

José G. González

Founder, Director Emeritus- Latino Outdoors

Partner, The Avarna Group

José G. González is the Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors. He is an experienced educator as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. As a Partner in The Avarna Group and through his own consulting, his work focuses on Equity & Inclusion frameworks and practices in the environmental, outdoor, and conservation fields. He is also an illustrator and science communicator.

His commentary on diversity and environmental/outdoor equity has been featured by High Country News, Outside Magazine, Earth Island Journal, and Latino USA, among others. He engaged in collaborations with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Interior, and the National Park Service during the Obama Administration. He also represented Latino Outdoors in several coalitions including the Latino Conservation Alliance, the Next 100 Coalition, and California Parks Now. He has been recognized with several honors, including the National Wildlife Federation Environmental Educator Award, Grist Magazine “Grist 50”, and The Murie Center Spirit of the Muries, among others. You may have also seen him in various outdoor spaces or read his poetic musings.

He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching coursework was at the Bilingual, Multicultural, Education Department at Sacramento State.

He serves as a Trustee for the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Trustee for the National Recreation Foundation, Resource Media Board Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project Board Director, Councilor for Save the Redwoods League, and as an advisor to Blue Sky Funders Forum, among other such leadership volunteer roles.

Be Smart on Solar



Environmental groups call for thoughtful planning for solar in Montgomery County—build first on already developed lands

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2020
For more information, contact, 240-899-9019, or, 410-921-9229, or, 240-630-4703

CHEVY CHASE, MD – The Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and Clean Water Action (CWA) submitted joint testimony to the Montgomery County Council pushing for thoughtful, sustainable solar development in the County as members consider “Solar Collection System – AR Zone Standards” in the Council’s work session today.

The climate crisis demands bold investment to generate more of our energy from solar and it should go hand-in-hand with thoughtful, advance planning that will first direct solar energy to the lowest-conflict areas.

ANS and CWA argue that the County should commit to finding and prioritizing already disturbed lands such as brownfields, parking garages, utility corridors, along with rooftops and county-owned facilities. New Jersey and Massachusetts have established solar rubric scores to help policymakers plan for solar siting. Montgomery County should complete studies to do the same and prioritize placing solar on already-developed lands first instead of in the Agricultural Reserve meant to protect farmland and natural spaces.

“Montgomery County needs to be smart from the start with solar development. The county has set the ambitious goal to reach net zero of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2035. The Climate Action Plan and the General Plan are already on this trajectory and in tune with all of the county’s climate, equity and economic needs,” said Denisse Guitarra, Maryland Conservation Advocate for ANS.

Moreover, while the Zone Texting Amendment (ZTA 20-01), claims it will require “pollinator-friendly” solar fields, the habitat these fields will provide will actually be a trap for honeybees and other critical pollinators. “Unfortunately, the state solar-pollinator program that Montgomery County is relying on allows routine spraying of pesticides on pollinator habitat - creating spaces that intentionally attract pollinating insects and then douse them in killer chemicals. To get kudos for providing habitat, routinely poisoning that habitat should be a non-starter,” said Emily Ranson, Maryland Director for Clean Water Action.

Click here to read our full testimony to the Council.

Follow ANS at and

Follow CWA at,, and 


About ANS: Throughout its 122-year history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region's iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS's nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment

About CWA: Clean Water Action is a national grassroots organization with 53,000 members in Maryland. For the last forty years in Maryland, Clean Water works for clean, safe, and affordable water, whether in the streams, rivers or Chesapeake Bay, or from the tap through grassroots organizing, policy work, and campaigns.

App Lets People Take Action For Water Quality


New Mobile App Lets People Take Action for Water Quality

It’s an easy, fun and fascinating way to safely collect and report water quality data

For Immediate Release: September 30, 2020
Photos available upon request

CHEVY CHASE, MD – The Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) have launched a brand-new version of Creek Critters®, an innovative smartphone app that empowers people to collect valuable data and report on local water quality. Using only a smartphone and a small aquarium net, everyone can learn about stream health and become advocates for their own natural resources.

“It always fascinates me to see how excited people get by discovering life in their streams,” says Gregg Trilling, Conservation Outreach Manager for the Audubon Naturalist Society. “Creek Critters helps newcomers and experienced stream monitors alike experience that thrill of discovery.”

Water quality in the United States is under threat from a wide range of sources, from excessive road salt use to stormwater runoff. Professional water quality experts are unable to monitor even half of the more than 3.5 million miles of streams and rivers across the country. ANS and IWLA have trained community scientists for decades to collect critical water quality data and engage local communities.

Creek Critters uses simple step-by-step instructions and an interactive guide to help users find and identify organisms in local streams. Collecting and identifying these small, fascinating animals, called benthic macroinvertebrates, is one of the most effective ways to assess stream health. Benthic macroinvertebrates live in creeks and streams and have different tolerance levels to water pollution. By identifying and reporting the macroinvertebrates they find in a stream, anyone, including students, can help paint a picture of water quality and pollution threats across the country.

“For students, Creek Critters is a splashy introduction to the stunning biodiversity that can be found if you learn to look,” says Dani Moore, science teacher at Wilson High School in DC.

The data collected by app users is uploaded into the Clean Water Hub, the water quality database managed by IWLA. The first database of its kind, the Clean Water Hub brings together data collected by volunteers across the country in a single, user-friendly website.

“With the Creek Critters app now connected to the Clean Water Hub database, people across the country are empowered to do their own water quality monitoring, share their results and use their data,” says Samantha Briggs, Clean Water Program Director for IWLA.

The app can be used by people working alone or by small groups, making it an easy activity to do while social distancing. It is also family friendly and can be used by schools, camps and clubs to educate and engage students of all ages.

The free app is available for download on iOS and Android devices.


Caroline Brewer
Director of Marketing and Communications
Audubon Naturalist Society
(240) 899-9019 or

Gregg Trilling
Conservation Outreach Manager
Audubon Naturalist Society

Samantha Briggs
Clean Water Program Director
Izaak Walton League of America
(847) 650-5112 or


About The Izaak Walton League of America: Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America ( and our more than 40,000 members protect America’s outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.

About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region's iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS's nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Follow ANS at:, 
and @ANSNature on Instagram.