Karina Ramos Villalobos, EcoNews Intern
As COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, people are connecting again and organizations like Latino Outdoors Humboldt are striving to host outdoor events, workshops and community spaces.
“The best and strongest way to get involved is to become a volunteer, which we desperately need right now to get events going,” said an active volunteer with Latino Outdoors Humboldt, Selene Castillo. “I think the benefits are really good so it does make it feasible for someone who has no experience with community engagement.”
Latino Outdoors Humboldt is a regional local chapter connected with the nationwide organization, Latino Outdoors (LO) that prioritizes outdoor programming.
Originally from Fontana, California, Castillo started volunteering with LO Humboldt in March 2022 once she returned to Humboldt County after years of living out of the area. Castillo graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management in 2017.
“We have chapters nationwide, some of them have been able to remain active during quarantine like San Francisco and Los Angeles,” Castillo said. “At least here in Humboldt, our chapter has kind of been dormant because we have so few volunteers and availability has shifted due to life.”
There are about 31 LO chapters nationwide. Any person who is interested in starting a chapter to grow community is supported.
“It’s a pretty sophisticated volunteer organization because there’s insurance that covers us, we get reimbursed for our mileage or for any supplies that we purchase,” Castillo said. “There are also professional development opportunities. They check in monthly with you and see what you are up to doing and document everything really well.”
According to Castillo, the LO national organization checks in monthly with each regional chapter to understand what the chapter is up to. Each chapter conducts their own events, workshops, and provides resources based on their surroundings and what caters to their community.
“We want to be all-inclusive,” Castillo said. “This would also include Afro-Latinx into the Black community. There has been more movement also for people with different physical capabilities as well as Queer communities. We aim to be inclusive, accepting and inviting to all of these communities that fall under the Latinx umbrella.”
Latino Outdoors Humboldt’s goal is to find and connect with Latinx communities and inspire people to join their events or engagements to learn more about the outdoors and continue to expand their chapter after the decline in activity from the pandemic.
Latino Outdoors History, Nationwide and Humboldt chapter
Organizers Ruby Rodríguez, Leslie Caballero and Daisy Rios Reveles started the Latino Outdoors Humboldt chapter in Feb. 2016 while they were all in their last semester of college at Cal Poly Humboldt. It took them a couple of years to get a team together and move forward with the process. Now, four years later Rodríguez is the Director of Programs and Operations for the nationwide Latino Outdoors organization.
“I mean this is the dream story really— she worked her way up from somebody who saw it online to somebody that said ‘I think I’ll join’ to somebody who joined and participated then volunteered and then led the regional chapter,” said Program Manager, Communications Christian La Mont. “When the job opened up [she] applied and became the Director of Programming for our national Latino Outdoors.”
Originally from Fresno, Rodríguez studied in the recreational program and graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt in 2016.
“LO was there when I needed my emotional support and LO was there in my early professional development,” Rodríguez said. “It served so many different needs of mine as a community member, a mother, a student and a professional. It’s been a really beautiful journey and experience.”
On Oct. 28 Latino Outdoors Humboldt will be hosting a ‘Boogey Bike Ride’ and costumes are encouraged. People will gather at the Arcata Plaza at 10 a.m.
For more information about future events or ways to volunteer follow @lohumboldt on Instagram, or connect through Facebook under the ‘Latino Outdoors Humboldt’ group. People are encouraged to reach out to ask questions or for guidance while navigating the outdoors.