2020 Natural Latinos
Virtual Conference Agenda

Wednesday, December 2nd

Welcome Session - ANS and Planning Committee
10:00 - 10:20 a.m.

10:20 - 11:00 a.m.


Green Jobs and the Latinx Community:
Landscapes, Arborists, Foresters, and More

Moderator: Luis Alfonzo, Horticulturist/Manager, University of Maryland, Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Cristina Flores, Co-manager, Three Part Harmony Farm
Xavier Quijano Bure, Washington Youth Garden
 Sergio Obadia, Principal, Cabana Designs
Alexander Palacios, Urban Forestry Crew Member, Casey Trees


In so many parts of the country, Latinx workers are over-represented in the landscaping industry in particular but severely underrepresented in the management and ownership levels. Panelists will discuss the types of jobs available to Latinx workers, what kinds of educational opportunities do they need to build businesses and careers, what are the barriers, what are the opportunities. Many of the Latinx workers may not have the Spanish-language education they need to gain access to native plant training, stormwater management through rain gardening, and other fast-growing, conservation-oriented segments of the industry. How do we change this paradigm and build capacity?  


(Español): How Did Una Comunidad Enjoy, Learn and Protect el Arroyo do Long Branch?

Moderator: Denisse Guitarra, Conservation Advocate, Audubon Naturalist Society
Wendy Cruz, Long Branch community member, CHEER/ Conexo
Cecilia Zavaleta, Senior Community School Coordinator for Linkages to Learning at Rolling Terrace Elementary School
Vanesa Pinto, Empowerment and Leadership Development Coordinator, Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research
Lisa Büttner, Long Branch community member and outreach strategist


This session will focus on the intersection of Latinx community outreach and engagement with in a highly urbanized stream and watershed in Silver Spring, MD.In 2019, Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and various community partners hosted a total of six Latinx-focused, outdoor, in the stream, community engagement events with families in the Long Branch community

Panelist will provide an overview of the projectshare their own personal reflections and answer questions from the audience. Additionally, panelists will share their ongoing and futureLong Branch community projects like land-use planning outreach and food distribution center during the pandemic.We will also have Gregg Trilling, ANS Conservation Outreach Manager, available to answer questions from the audience on the development and progress of the project as well as answer any question on Creek Critters® App, macros, engagement activities.

10:20 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

La Ciencia Participativa - Tools for Community Empowerment and Resilience
(Pre-registration is required)

Lucila Fernandez-De Simone, Educational Specialist, US Forest Service
Pedro Rios, Ecosystem Management Team Leader, El Yunque National Forest US Forest service

Albertyadir De Jesús Román
Dept. of Environmental Sciences
University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

Dr. Christopher Nytch
Lead Scientist
El Yunque National Forest
Citizen Science Monitoring Program
Fundación Amigos de El Yunque
Affiliate Investigator
Dept. of Environmental Sciences
University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus


This workshop will introduce the concept of community science (also called “citizen science”) as a tool for fostering a connection to land, environmental healing, lifelong learning, and community resilience. Learn what community science is and what it is good for, how to plan a community science project, and how it is used to equip community residents to be the direct advisors of management plans for decisions that directly affect them. The speakers will be researchers, Forest Service staff, and community scientists (students and community residents) from Puerto Rico who are spearheading a community science project designed to help Puerto Rican communities face one of the island’s most formidable challenges: climate change.  

Post Hurricane Maria, there was collective interest from the National Forest Service, University of Puerto Rico at San Piedras, la Fundación Amigos del Yunque (Friends of the el Yunque Foundation) to take a critical look at capacity of urban to rural tracts of el Yunque National Forest, and its associated network of forest ecosystems, to provide ecosystem services critical to climate change mitigation. Working alongside a national partner, Corazón Latino, this consortium of partners offered workshops and field experiences to community residents to foster healing with land, embolden participants to share their own stories with the forest, and equips participants with hands-on tools to contribute to solutions-oriented research. Participant contributions—stories and tree data—are fed directly into forest management plans and inform decisions on how to manage El Yunque for ecosystem services. 

11:10 - 11:50 a.m.


Serving the Public and the Planet:
The Latinx Experience in Green Career Fields

Michael Rizo
Program Specialist
U.S. Forest Service
International Programs
Office of the Chief

Brenda Ramirez Romero
U.S. Forest Service
Mount St Helens National Monument

Albert Arévalo
Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator
Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Latino Outdoors DMV

Fabián García
Acting National Partnership Coordinator
U.S. Forest Service
National Partnership Office, Washington, D.C.

Melissa Martinez
Government Affairs Policy Staff
National Parks Conservation Association


This session invites professionals at various stages of public service careers in natural resource fields to share their personal experiences. Speakers are encouraged to speak honestly about their own journeys, offer guidance to conference participants on how to find and secure opportunities in local, state, and federal jobs, and most importantly—how to navigate organizational culture while serving in these roles.

Panelists will answer questions designed to encourage the sharing of personal narratives and commentary on public service at the intersections of natural resource management, conservation, nature education, and recreation. This discussion will bring to light disparities in these service-oriented green institutions, including, but not limited to: representation of the Latino-identifying staff, Latino narratives, the application of Latinidad, and contributions of the Latino community to conservation, nature education, recreation, and natural resource management.


Lost in the Parks

Gabrielle Roffe
Manager of Equity and Community Engagement
Chesapeake Conservancy

Julian Segovia
Bilingual Interpretive Outreach Assistant/Student
Chesapeake Conservancy

Isabel Layton
Bilingual Interpretive Outreach Assistant/Student
Chesapeake Conservancy

Sheila Lucero-Garcia,
LHIP Intern/Student
NPS Chesapeake Bay Office/ LHIP


This panel will feature voices and perspectives of young Latinx conservationists who are budding in their careers. Our three speakers worked together this summer virtually to build community engagement programs with the Latinx communities in the Chesapeake. Sheila will describe her internship project which she conducted from California entitled “Lost in the Parks” where she sought to understand and reach the communities of the Chesapeake without the ability to be there in person. She developed her community engagement program learning from best practices in Parks in California to inform how to build authentic relationships with Latinx communities in parks. Julian and Isabel worked virtually to put those practices into place by creating online and video content in Spanish to reach the community. This reached beyond environmental programming and into a Youth Roundtable for Latino Conservation week and creating mentoring opportunities for Latinx youth in Anne Arundel County.   

All three presenters will speak to their experiences as young professionals in the field, their experiences with engaging the Latinx community and best practices, and their hopes for the future of the environmental movement and the role of Latinx communities.  

12:00 - 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 3rd

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Natali  Fani-González

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Without apologies, go bold and take back our streets for social and environmental justice

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.

Her passion for community advocacy has prompted her to speak out about civil rights and economic justice on noteworthy occasions such as the 40th Anniversary of the March on Washington. 

10:30 - 11:10 a.m.


The Queer Latinx Experience in the Outdoors

Joe Toolan, Outreach and Education Program Assistant / Central Atlantic Community Cultivator, Chesapeake Bay Trust / OUT 4 Sustainability 
Zachary Evans (he/him/his), Senior Coordinator, Digital Campaigns, National Wildlife Federation
Yamina Nater-Otero (she/her or they/them), Program Coordinator - For the Birds!, Audubon NY
J. Abraham Lopez Trejo (he/him/his), Education & Outreach Associate, Patterson Park Audubon Center
Sebastian Cancino (they/them or he/him), Writer and Ambassador, and We Got Next
Amanda E. Machado (she/her/hers) is a writer and facilitator who focuses on the intersections between race, gender, travel, and the outdoors. After teaching 9th grade English as a Teach for America corps member, she spent fifteen months backpacking South America, South Asia, Western Europe and the Western United States. Since then, she has written and facilitated on topics of social justice and adventure and lived in cities like Cape Town, Havana, Mexico City, Berlin, and Rio de Janeiro.
Bianca Marcella Ballara


The experience of the Latinx community in nature and in the outdoor industry is unique, complicated and challenging due to numerous barriers, intentional and unintentional. The experience of LGBTQIA+ identified individuals is also challenging to navigate in the Latinx community. Join us to gain a perspective from four individuals who are creating a name for themselves in the outdoor industry, from Environmental Educators to outdoor bloggers, to non-profit workers, each has a unique story to share. This panel will focus on the experience of these individuals from what drew them to the industry, what it was like entering the nature community and how they navigate those spaces today to create a more inclusive outdoor experience for all, no matter the color of your skin, gender identity or sexual orientation.


(Español) What is the Great American Outdoors Act for Us Latinx

 Josefina Doumbia

Molly Multedo
Latino Verde Initiative

Brenda Gallegos
Hispanic Access Foundation

Felipe Benitez
Corazón Latino


Join us to discuss the What, Why, and Hows of making the recently signed Great American Outdoors Act an actionable tool for Latinx in the area. Learn about the actwhy it is so important for the Latinx community, what Latinx organizations can do, how to raise awareness, how can we help bringing the concepts home, and more! 


Salute to the Environmental Champions
11:20 - 11:50 a.m.

Learn more about each honoree by clicking their photo


12:00 - 12:30 p.m.

Friday, December 4th


A Conversation on Becoming Latinx Anti-Racist in Our Environmental Movement
10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Moderator: Juan Declet-Barreto, Climate Vulnerability Social Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists
Adi Martínez-Román, Senior Policy Analyst on Puerto Rico, OxFam America
Jacqui Patterson, Sr Director, Environmental and Climate Justice Program, NAACP
Pedro Cruz is the acting director for the Sierra Club’s Healthy Communities Campaign. Pedro works with allies in the labor, economic and racial justice movements to create family-sustaining union jobs in clean infrastructure, especially in low-income and communities of color.

People of color in the environmental movement are indeed one community with many voices. But some voices, especially Black, Indigenous, African-American, Afro-Latinx, and other Afrodescendants have been, and continue to be, marginalized in our movement. Marginalization of Black and other environmentalist voices of color is wide ranging: from the failure to equitably address and financially support the health and climate impact needs of environmental justice and other frontline grassroots organizations, to the lack of Black and other people of color in decision-making/formal power positions in top leadership and boards of large national environmental organizations.

In this panel session, we will 1) discuss the ways in which Black, Afro-Latinx, and other voices of color are marginalized or excluded from decision-making processes in the environmental movement, 2) discuss how Latinx environmentalists can work together to overcome the legacy of anti-Black racism and colorism, and 3) discuss how to work together to transform our movement, organizations, and our work in ways that are explicitly anti-racist.

10:30 - 11:10 a.m.



Moderator: Jorge Bogantes Montero, Anacostia Watershed Society
Alonso Abugattas, The Capital Naturalist
Serenella Linares, Mycologist & Manager of Virtual Programs, Audubon Naturalist Society
Andrés Anchondo works as a Conservation Specialist for American Bird Conservancy, protecting migratory birds in their wintering grounds throughout Latin America.


Located in the heart of the mighty Potomac River basin, and possessing many remarkable protected areas and green spaces, the DMV area is a quite biodiverse metropolitan region. Being located in the nation’s capital, the region also has a relatively high population of professionals working on biodiversity conservation issues. These folks are working on everything, from the hyperlocal issues affecting DC to the big planetary issues of the Anthropocene.

With all this human and natural capital available, where are the Latinx folks and what stories can they tell us about biodiversity? In this session we will focus on discussing the intersection of the local biodiversity conservation issues (with some references to Latin America as well) and the local Latinx professionals that are working hard educating the public about biodiversity, as well as exploring, protecting and restoring it for the future generations. We will focus on the natural history aspects of the topic and the passion we share about it as Latinx naturalists transplanted in the DMV.


(Español): Climate Change Impacts and Resilience of Latino Populations in the U.S. and Latin

Moderator: Dr. José Pablo Ortiz Partida, Western States Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists
Dr. Pablo Méndez Lázaro, Associate Professor, Environmental Health Department, Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus
Paula García is a Bilingual Senior Energy Analyst in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She evaluates energy resource and climate solutions in the electricity sector and works to further public understanding of clean energy technologies, policies and markets.
Dr. Robinson Torres Salinas, Assistant Professor, Universidad de Concepción, Chile


From California to the Gulf Coast, to South America, extreme weather events augmented by climate change are threatening the lives and wellbeing of people of Latin America or of Latin American heritage. The impacts of hurricanes, droughts, inland and coastal flooding, heatwaves, wildfires, and sea-level rise have inequitably burdened Latinos all across América.

In this panel, we will discuss the ways in which climate change is overburdening Latinos, the need for intertwined climate and energy resilience solutions, and opportunities for action to reduce climate change drivers and equitably increase climatic and energetic resilience as a way out of the climate crisis.   


Tres Comadres:
Changing Narratives in the Outdoors

Dayana Molina is a passionate and dedicated community advocate working as Community Organizer at The Trust for Public Land in Los Angeles. Dayana gained the incredible hands-on experience and knowledge of community engagement and park advocacy she now brings to TPL working in her own community from the age of 13.
Lizbeth Rivera-Estrada is a self identifying decolonial feminists. She is also a student, mentor, and lives with a mission to elevate, amplify and heal the young, immigrant, students that make up the beautiful and resilient communities in Washington but have historically been underserved and silenced. Lizbeth is also a co-founder of Parque Padrinos, a grassroots group formed in Wenatchee, WA to advocate for their community to have access to a remodeled, beautiful, and culturally resonating park in South Wenatchee and that has grown to promote awareness and access to resources for their community.
Daniela Peterson has worked at the Trust for Public Land since 2018 bringing a strategic, informed approach to their work with communities. As a brown, immigrant social worker from Chile, Daniela’s personal, professional, and volunteer experiences have given her a comprehensive understanding of community dynamics, especially relating to disenfranchised populations.


The outdoors is a different experience for everyone. Many factors can define how you experience the outdoors, including but not limited to personal story, background, geography and accessibility.

Join us to explore how these three Latinas are changing the narratives of our communities in the outdoors by putting them at the center through their work with The Trust for Public Land.


11:20 - 11:50 a.m.

The Latino Experience in the Outdoors

José G. González

José G. González is the Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors. 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. 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.

Naturally Latinos Co-Chairs Eliza Cava and Serenella Linares

Closing Remarks

Naturally Latinos Co-Chairs
Eliza Cava & Serenella Linares

11:50 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

12:00-12:30 p.m.

featuring Marimba Princesa Xinabajul

Marimba Princesa Xinabajul

La Marimba Princesa Xinabajul está integrada por Guatemaltecos con amplia experiencia musical que interpretan música folklorica Guatemalteca y tambien musica popular latinoamericana y así conectarnos con nuestros paises y sus culturas. La banda nace en el 2016 por iniciativa de un emprendedor Guatemalteco Jesus Macario Mateo originario de Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Con las dulces notas de la Marimba, instrumento declarado como Patrimonio Cultural de las Americas por la Organización de Estados Americanos, se pretende alegrar y amenizar eventos culturales, sociales y comunitarios incluyendo esta conferencia Naturally Latinos 2020. Celebremos nuestra cultura!

The Marimba Band Princesa Xinabajul is made up of Guatemalans with extensive musical experience, who combine Guatemalan folk music with Latin American popular music in order to connect us to our countries and cultures. Princesa Xinabajul was founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Jesus Macario Mateo, originally from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. With the beautiful notes of the traditional Marimba, an instrument declared a Cultural Patrimony of the Americas by the Organization of American States, Princesa Xinabajul enlightens and enlivens cultural, social, and community events in the Washington, DC area, including Naturally Latinos 2020. Please join them in celebrating our culture!

For conference information, please contact
Conference Co-Chairs
Serenella Linares  or  Eliza Cava

For conference sponsorships,
please contact
Lin Orrin