José González

The founder of Latino Outdoors is looking for the next generation of advocates

“Today we’re benefiting from the efforts of past conservation leaders." (Photo: Ian Allen)
“Today we’re benefiting from the efforts of past conservation leaders."

Founder, Latino Outdoors | 34, Washington, D.C.

“Today we’re benefiting from the efforts of past conservation leaders. We have these aging white elders who worked to get things like the Wilderness Act passed. Historically, it hasn’t been crucial to engage diverse communities. But now it’s critical. Demographics have changed, and we need to make sure that, a century from now, we’re celebrating 200 years of the parks. 

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“A group called Green 2.0 surveyed all the major environmental organizations for diversity, and the findings were dismal. The park system is either going to keep declining as its advocates get older and whiter, or it’s going to strengthen as they get older and whiter and younger and browner. 

“The narrative has always been that hiking is for white people, or at least that you leave your culture at the trailhead. The main idea with Latino Outdoors is to increase access and opportunity for Latinos to have outdoor experiences and become responsible stewards of the land. We want to foster a sense of community—to create a hub for people with a similar background. 

“We’re working with the Park Service on events, doing local hikes with families; we’re working with the National Parks Foundation to get our leaders’ stories out there. It’s a way of saying, ‘This is what a park advocate can look like.’ ” 

From Outside Magazine, May 2016
Filed To: Nature
Lead Photo: Ian Allen