Conservation organizations launch the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project

The New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, and Latino Outdoors recently announced the launch of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project.

Based in southern New Mexico, the Nuestra Tierra project will offer Hispanic and under-served youth and families dozens of opportunities throughout the year to explore New Mexico’s iconic landscapes and experience the state’s rich cultural heritage.

Nuestra Tierra project activities will include hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping, hunting, and many others, providing youth with an opportunity to engage in fun, cultural, and impactful outdoor experiences. Youth will also get to learn about future career opportunities in conservation and be connected with internship opportunities in New Mexico and around the country.

“Without a passionate group of young people to lead the next generation of conservation work, we will fail at protecting our state’s and our nation’s public lands and our most treasured cultural landscapes,” said Gabe Vasquez, southern New Mexico coordinator for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “All New Mexican families deserve an equal opportunity to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. Public lands belong to all Americans regardless of their income, race, or zip code. We hope this project helps more New Mexicans experience this state’s outdoor heritage, and many others find a career they are passionate about.”

Nuestra Tierra’s first event took place January 19 in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, where Nuestra Tierra leaders took local youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces on a guided cultural hike to explore the Native and Hispanic history of the Mesilla Valley and of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

“As one of the main links between our monument and our community, we feel strongly that all youth should have the opportunity to experience the enchantment that this land offers,” said Ben Gabriel, executive director of the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. “This region’s rich and complex history, which lives and breathes in our public lands, should be enjoyed, honored, and protected for years to come. We look forward to working with our local youth to give them unforgettable experiences in the monument and beyond.”

In addition to facilitating youth recreation, mentorship, career engagement, and education opportunities, Nuestra Tierra program leaders will also produce the publicly available Nuestra Tierra Podcast, which will feature multicultural voices from around the nation who will offer their insight and perspective on how to move the legacy of Hispanic conservation forward.

The program’s website will also host the Nuestra Tierra Blog, a space for youth and other New Mexicans to tell the outdoor stories that matter to them. The blog will be frequently updated and focus on unique, Hispanic and New Mexican perspectives on the outdoors and the importance of conservation.

“We have seen nationally, that when you engage Hispanic families and youth, and offer communities meaningful opportunities to have fun and explore the outdoors, they fall in love, and they become stewards and advocates for the lands we all want to conserve,” said Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors.

“We’re proud to support this program and extend the reach of Latino Outdoors to New Mexico. More than ever, it’s critical that we all come together to appreciate this nation’s rich, multicultural history.”

The Nuestra Tierra website is now live. Check back often for podcasts, events, blog entries, and other content from New Mexico’s youth and communities.

For more information, contact nuestratierranm@ gmail.com, or check their online sites: nuestra-tierra.org, facebook.com/NuestraTierraCP, or on Twitter and Instagram at @NuestraTierraNM.