Initiative Encourages Latinos to Pursue Land-Management Careers
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
An initiative by the Hispanic Access Foundation aims to bridge the gap between land-management agencies and access to employment for Latinos and people of color.
The My Access to Network Opportunities project has cultivated partnerships with federal agencies and organizations for professional development and training opportunities for people of color.
Nina Marti, manager of the project for the foundation, said there are often many prerequisites to be considered for a federal job. For many, it is not a lack of drive or skill, but an inability to enter the field in more traditional ways.
"What the MANO project does is, when we enter a partnership with these agencies, we're collaborating to create an environment that not only supports interns and fellows, and addresses those barriers," Marti explained. "But also creates packages, and competitive mentorship and learning opportunities, that will take them to the next level in their career."
Marti added the program involves getting interns fair wages, and funding to support relocation and housing if needed. The goal is to ensure the learning opportunities get people the experience they need to compete in the federal job market, whether it's a particular certification or field experience.
Marti pointed out there is extensive history about how people of color interact with the outdoors, and it includes barriers to owning land, and even recreation. She acknowledged not everyone is aware of the steps and knowledge needed to be considered for land management positions.
In talks with federal agencies, her group emphasized the importance of being open to "nontraditional education backgrounds."
"Particularly as it pertains to Indigenous peoples, who have such a deep understanding of their lands but not through the traditional educational pathway," Marti noted. "Or folks who are engaged in their communities who understand their needs. There are so many different ways to acquire that knowledge."
To young people interested in federal job opportunities but feel they're not qualified, her advice is, "Don't count yourself out." And to people in positions of power within federal agencies, Marti advised it would help them to broaden their own understanding of conservation and environmentalism, which she added will open doors for new stakeholders.
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