National Wildlife Federation Speakers Featured at Festival Celebrating Diversity
DENVER – Never has it been more important that all voices be heard on conserving our environment and strengthening our connections to it. The National Wildlife Federation is helping sponsor the 4th annual Americas Latino Eco Festival to highlight the environmental work and leadership by communities of color and the collaborations underway to protect our public lands, water, air, wildlife, and nurture the next generations of conservationists.
The festival, presented by Americas for Conservation + the Arts from October 13th – 16th in Denver, aims to elevate the voices of communities of color and of women in conservation and cultural leadership. The Americas Latino Eco Festival, or ALEF, is a Latino-hosted multicultural gathering that will focus on fostering collaboration and using art and culture to communicate environmental awareness and shared values.
The National Wildlife Federation’s role in this festival reflects the organization’s vision of developing a diverse and highly effective conservation army of 75 million Americans that will help wildlife, communities, and people thrive within a generation. By recognizing the extensive contributions of Latino leaders to conservation and environmental justice, and by promoting dialogue between the Latino and conservation communities, the National Wildlife Federation will help assure that the voice for wildlife in our nation represents all people, said Brian Kurzel, executive director of NWF’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center.
“Building authentic relationships with communities and leaders that represent all people is not a choice, it is a necessity if the special places and species that define the West are to be protected for future Americans” Kurzel added.
Kent Salazar, the Western vice chairman of the National Wildlife Federation’s board of directors, will be one of the speakers during a panel discussion on Oct. 14 at the McNichols Civic Building. The discussion, “An Inclusive Vision for the Next 100 Years of Public Lands & Its People,” will be from 9:45-10:30 a.m. Salazar is a lifelong New Mexico resident, outdoorsman, and nationally recognized conservation leader.
Additionally, Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, the National Wildlife Federation’s Manager of Education and Advocacy Programs, will be part of a panel titled “Rising Environmental Justice Leaders – Celebrating Past Successes Leading into Current Efforts,” on Oct. 13 from 2:00-2:45pm. Osborne Jelks will share success stories from Earth Tomorrow, NWF’s youth environmental education and leadership development program for teens of color in Atlanta.
“It’s a critically important time in our country as we deal with the effects of a changing climate, struggle to maintain access to public lands and mentor the next generations of conservationists,” Salazar said. “The Latino community long has had a strong connection to the land, water and wildlife through our family activities, hunting, fishing and enjoying the countryside. It’s crucial that our voices are heard and that we share our experiences so we can help sustain the wildlife and outdoors that sustain all of us.”
These connections are demonstrated by a survey by New America Media that found 70 percent of minority voters polled participate in outdoor recreation and 57 percent of those have visited national public lands. In addition, a project by Earthjustice and GreenLatinos found that 79 percent of Latinos polled believe it is important to protect our public lands and wildlife. These results underscore the importance of improving diversity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and conservation and joining forces with all people who care about the environment, our public lands, wildlife, climate change, and more.
In addition to supporting Americas for Conservation + the Arts as they bring ALEF 2016 to Denver, the National Wildlife Federation is partnering with Americas for Conservation + the Arts to develop a Latino youth leadership program that will build on the momentum of this festival and work with Denver’s Latino community to foster the next generation of Colorado’s conservation stewards.
Learn more about Americas Latino Eco Festival at http://www.americaslatinoecofestival.org/
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