This is almost the halfway point of my time in New Mexico, which is crazy! I don’t want to think about it, though, so instead I just keep thinking about all that is yet to come.
On the upside, the Upward Bound event that happened last week went well! We had 72 students come from El Paso through the University of Texas-El Paso Upward Bound program. Upward Bound is a college readiness program for high school students from low income families and/or students whose parents do not have a bachelor’s degree, which provides opportunities of various types with the goal of increasing secondary education rates and providing access to higher education institutions.
The students seemed to have enjoyed their time at the park, even though it was about 105 degrees outside. They were asking the presenters from various departments in the park about how they got their jobs and what they do. Hopefully, this interaction helped plant the seed of curiosity for some of the students who would consider working in a federal job at the National Park Service (NPS), and continue the diversifying of the parks from the inside out as well as the outside in. An important part of the day as well was to make sure they had fun, and they got to slide down the dunes and play in the sand for a bit. It was refreshing to see that when asked if they had been to the park before, many of them raised their hands and said they had come with family or schools and that they are interacting with the parks that they “own.” I didn’t get opportunities like that when I was young and wish that it had been more accessible to me, even though the environment I grew up in was one literally surrounded by nature so I didn’t feel separate from it, but I still have never visited Yosemite or Crater Lake and they are relatively close to me. I want to do more work like this and make direct impacts to students and the community for accessibility to outdoor spaces. I am hopeful that my time in the NPS and LHIP will open doors for me to start a career doing this outreach.