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Taos, New Mexico Teen: National Conservation Youth Leader

Reston, VA – This weekend, the National Wildlife Federation recognized the Daniel Romero, a high school senior from Taos, New Mexico, as its National Conservation Youth Leader of the Year.

"Daniel is an inspiration to us on many levels. He has worked for more than a year to evaluate changes in rehabilitated sections of the Red River and he is designing a new method for recording stream data,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “These would be significant accomplishments for any high school student, but these are even more impressive due to Romero’s dyslexia and other learning disabilities.”

The ceremony took place at the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting and celebration of the 80th anniversary of its founding, held in Estes Park, Colorado. National Conservation Youth Leader award recognizes the special conservation achievements of youth leaders within the National Wildlife Federation affiliate ranks.

Daniel Romero: National Conservation Youth Leader

Taos High School senior and stream ecology enthusiast, Daniel Romero, has demonstrated himself to be a leader in the classroom and in his New Mexico community. As a member of New Mexico Wildlife Federation’s Conservation & Culture Youth Education program, Romero conducted the first applied ecological research in the classroom through a stream restoration project. The program, open to high school juniors and seniors, teaches fundamental concepts of land ethic, conservation, stewardship and land-based cultural history, with a core curriculum based around timeless conservation writings of the organization’s founder, Aldo Leopold. For the last year and a half, Daniel has made efforts to evaluate changes in the geomorphology of rehabilitated sections of the Red River in Questa, NM. Daniel is also working on designing a new method for students to record stream discharge data using a flow meter. These accomplishments are significant for Romero due to his challenges with several learning disabilities: dyslexia, which affects reading and spelling; dysgraphia, which affects the ability to write coherently; dyscalculia, which affects math; and dyspraxia, which affects his speech. These disabilities were all considered severe, yet Daniel has found ways to adapt by using programs such as speech to text, and text to speech to communicate effectively. His philosophy is that even though the path is difficult, our goals are attainable with hard work. Romero’s perseverance, intellectual curiosity and leadership have spread awareness in the community not only about the benefits of a stream restoration project, but also that there are ways to adapt and overcome disabilities in our lives. He will continue on his educational path by attending New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM (in the fall of 2016) to pursue a degree in Environmental Geology. Romero is truly an inspiration and role model for young individuals in the Taos Public School System and beyond.

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