During my eighth week of my internship, Environment for the Americas flew me out to Colorado along with the other EFTA interns for a post internship workshop. We stayed at Cal-Wood Education Center near Boulder, Colorado. Cal-Wood is a beautiful, log cabin facility which hosts educational programs and includes cabins for participants to sleep in.
Our first day in Colorado was filled with sightseeing and meetings. Susan Bonfield, Executive Director for EFTA, picked up several other interns and myself from the Denver airport. Sitting in the van with the other interns was the first time I had ever met them in person. It was great to meet everyone after only hearing their voices in the webinars or reading their posts on the LHIP blog. Our first destination from the airport was to the History Colorado Museum in Downtown Denver. Here we met and had lunch with two historians and archaeologists who spoke to us about the work they do, gave us an opportunity to share some of our internship experiences and gave us a tour around their office. We then had about forty-five minutes to walk through the museum before we had to leave to our next destination.
Our second destination was to the Denver LGBTQ Center where we met with Board Member Carlos Martinez, who welcomed us to Colorado and shared some words of encouragement. Before entering the meeting room, I was interviewed by Ana Gonzalez Dorta, who took footage of my interview to use as marketing for the LHIP internship. Martinez congratulated us on being young, Latino trailblazers working towards successful futures in the environmental workforce. His presentation was very encouraging and motivating. The group activity we did allowed us to brainstorm ideas about how we would invest $50,000 into the community. My group and I decided to create internship programs for middle and high school youth focused on several different subjects. We allocated $10,000 for each field including: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), health and fitness, art and music, business and psychology. We chose to allocate the $50,000 in this manner because my whole group and I strongly agreed that the LHIP internship was very important for us to gain real-world experience and life-long, professional skills. We were all very moved by the LHIP internship experience and wanted to provide other youth with great resources to increase their future success. After the meeting, Martinez treated us to dinner down the street at a local Irish Pub and Restaurant.
After dinner, Dalia Dorta and Susan Bonfield drove us to Cal-Wood Education Center, where we arrived after sunset. It was definitely an adventure sitting in the van and looking through the dark, steep hillside as we went higher up the Rocky Mountains to reach our destination. After finally arriving at Cal-Wood, we met Rafael Salgado, Executive Director of Cal-Wood, who gave us a quick tour of the facility. Salgado provided us with pillows, pillow cases, sheets, blankets and assigned us our sleeping quarters. After a long day of traveling, meeting working professionals and getting to know the other LHIP interns, day one of our Colorado trip was a definite success!
Our second day started at 6:15 am where we traveled to the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Office in Denver, Colorado. On this morning, we still did not have a clear idea as to how Cal-Wood looked since we had arrived late at night and were leaving before sunrise. Here we met with several NPS employees who spoke with us about their roles in the NPS and their personal backgrounds. This day was the busiest for us because we went through two rounds of intern presentations, several discussions about our experiences this summer, mock interviews, a question and answer period with several NPS employees, a resume building workshop as well as a networking workshop. We had breakfast upon arrival to the office, lunch during the day and several breaks in between sessions to stretch our legs and use the restroom. Before the end of the day, Susan, Dalia and Paloma Bolasny congratulated us for our work and awarded us with certificates of completion for the internship. The day was very well planned and organized, which maximized the efficiency of the day. After the day was over, we all headed back to Cal-Wood for dinner.
Evening time at Cal-Wood was beautiful! We had dinner on the outside porch overlooking the green pastures, hillsides and mountaintops surrounding the area. The crisp, cool air was great to breathe in, although I could definitely feel my body getting dehydrated quicker due to the high elevation. After dinner, we changed into our hiking gear and hiked to a vista point where we watched the sunset over the Rocky Mountains. This was a beautiful way to end the day!! The sunset was magical, and the location made it even more special. Being there with the other interns, who quickly became friends, made it even more fun! After our hike, we all went into the main cabin where we played giant Jenga and then moved out onto the porch to stargaze. I have never seen the sky so lit up with constellations and shooting stars; it was incredible! The light pollution in Los Angeles prevents me from witnessing such natural beauty. Witnessing such a spectacular show in the night sky sparked wonder and awe for the other interns and me.
The third and final day started at 7:15 am with breakfast on the outdoor deck followed by a trip down to the Flatirons near Boulder, Colorado. We went on a guided tour and hike by Juanita Echeverri who is an Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Open Space and Mountain Parks in Boulder. Echeverri was very passionate and educated about the fauna and flora both native and invasive in the area. She shared with us historic facts of the area and explained how the Flatirons were named by pioneer women because they resembled household irons. After our tour, Dalia and Susan provided pizza for lunch after we had a session regarding our recommendations and feedback for the internship. After lunch, we headed over to Pearl Street in Downtown Boulder to spend an hour experiencing the city before we headed to the airport. Downtown Boulder was very beautiful and had a very cozy, college town atmosphere.
At around 3:00 pm, Dalia took several other interns and myself to the airport while Susan stayed behind with the other interns who had flights later in the evening. This trip was definitely amazing and inspiring! Being around so many other young, successful individuals was motivating and fulfilling. It was great to meet my colleagues and peers who are working hard to better their futures and the lives of those whom they will surely influence in their lifetime. Thank you to everyone involved with the Latino Heritage Internship Program, Hispanic Access Foundation, Environment for the Americas and the National Park Service. This opportunity was life-changing and I am very glad I was able to be involved.