This past week has been a roller coaster ride! Tuesday morning I left for Denver, Colorado at 6am. Despite my red eye flight and lack of sleep, I felt wide-awake and excited to meet all of the L-HIPsters!

My favorite part of the trip was, of course, meeting Susan, Dalia, and the interns. We all became friends instantly and were eager to share our experiences with each other. The L-HIPsters are positive and intelligent young people; it is such an honor to be a part of this group.

My favorite moments are plenty. (1) Creating a hypothetical non-profit organization with the Hispanic Access Foundation. Our group focused on helping third world countries that have faced environmental adversities tend the land in sustainable and responsible ways. Even though this was just an exercise, we were reminded that the sky is the limit in life and we could make a non-profit organization happen someday if we work hard enough. This is definitely a dream of mine! (2) Meeting Mr. McDonald at the NPS regional office was so awe-inspiring. He provided us with as much life-advice as we had the time for. Hearing how he got into the NPS and about his career was very inspiring. He told us to not stay stagnant in life and to keep striving for more. (3) The presentations executed by my brave fellow interns were beyond impressive. It was clear that the whole room was moved by their amazing stories! (4) Witnessing a meteor shower on a clear, beautiful night in Cal-Wood Environmental Education Center. I had never seen a shooting star and that night we saw about ten!

It was a perfect trip.

L-HIPsters all have a mission in life. and I think we can all agree that that mission became more clear because of this internship. I know that my passion for the environment has become stronger. and I am more curious than ever about everything around me.

I want to thank everyone, especially Susan, for making this happen. It has been such a rewarding experience that has truly changed our lives in myriad positive ways.

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Written by Ilianna Padilla
My name is Ilianna Padilla and I am a graduate student at Cal State Long Beach studying Environmental Geography. I love all things wild, being in the outdoors, and traveling. What sparked my interest in nature was reading literature that fed my imagination with beautiful descriptions of wild landscapes that seemed so distant for someone who grew up in a densely urban environment like myself. This is why I want to continue working towards connecting people with the outdoors because I believe that it is crucial to our own well being as well as the health of the natural environment. In the future, I hope to have a career in the National Park Service or run my very own nonprofit organization. This summer I hope to gain a deeper insight on all the great things the National Park Service foes as well as take part in their mission of becoming more relevant to all communities.