One of the greatest joys in my life is the ability to show off my beautiful place of work and happiness to the people I love most. This past weekend my brother and his family came to visit me at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. With this visit came my sweet 8 month old nephew, Todd. He got to experience his first hike at this beautiful hidden gem in Colorado. Everyone we passed congratulated us on getting him an early start in exploring the outdoors. These comments had me ponder what it was like for children now who are growing up in such a technologically dependent society. There are so many children out there who are drowning in an urban lifestyle, void of any naturalistic interaction or back country exploration. Fortunately, Todd has a family who constantly put an emphasis on the importance of exploration and learning about this world through the development of environmental morals and etiquette.
Thinking about Todd growing up with not only environmental education, but Cuban influence, made me proud to think that maybe one day he can help bridge the gap between the NPS world and new Hispanic generations. From this short time I have been working for NPS, I have noticed that there is a serious lack of outreach to communities in desperate need of escapes into the wilderness. With an interpretive staff as impressive and knowledgeable as I have seen at Black Canyon, and the pure joy I see from the Junior Rangers that come in, I think that all National Parks should make the effort to continuously reach out to schools and culturally diverse programs like LHIP and work with them in ways that allow kids to explore, and think, and reason as to why protecting this beautiful world we live in is so important. To be able to think outside ones self and become a part of something greater than your own well being is such a humbling affect, that if there was one thing in this world that children need, it is the push to be a part of something and to become the difference this world needs.