Connecting Cultures: Engaging Latinos in Science Education
Connecting Cultures Newsletter 
from Environment for the Americas

November 2011
In This Issue
Advisory Council & Partners Meeting
Advisory Council & Partners Meeting
Latino Participation Triples
Fernando Villalba, NPS
Conference Presentations
Calendar of Events
Migratory Bird Day - 2012
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is the focus of the Connecting Cultures study.  In 2012, the program will share the results of the study in a celebration of diversity, IMBD's 20th Anniversary, and bird conservation.

Get involved in selecting the final IMBD 2012 poster design.  Vote Now!
2012 Art   
Art by Rafael Lopez for EFTA
Project Participants
Colorado State University
National Park Service
Point Reyes Bird  
New Jersey Audubon
Rocky Mountain Bird
Barr Lake State Park
Wendy Hanophy
Edwin Juarez
  Arizona Game & Fish Department
Kim Ramirez
  Audubon Fellow
Michael Rizo
  USDA Forest Service
Greg Stevens
  American Association of Museums
Fernando Villaba
  National Park Service

STUDY SITES  Bandelier National
  New Mexico
Golden Gate Nat'l Recreation Area/Point Reyes Nat'l Seashore
Fire Island National Seashore
  New York
North Cascades National Park
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
  New Jersey
Barr Lake State Park

Great Sand Dunes National
Park & Preserve
Big Thicket National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve

CO-Principal Investigator
Carol Beidleman


Mariamar Gutiérrez

Natasha Kerr

Marcella Wells
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Environment for the Americas (EFTA) is examining the barriers to participation in informal science education by Latino/Hispanic audiences in a 3-year project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Using International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) as the focus of the study, we have conducted community surveys at 6 sites across the U.S., monitoring attendance at IMBD events and developing tools to help educators improve their outreach. Now, we are working with event organizers to implement the recommendations of survey respondents to improve outreach to Latino/Hispanic communities. Thank you for your interest!  

Susan Bonfield  
Susan Bonfield
Environment for the Americas
Advisory Council & Partners Meeting 
September 22 & 23, 2011,  Boulder, CO

This year, the Connecting Cultures Advisory Council was joined by partners from our study sites at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (CO), New Jersey Audubon Society, Barn Beach Reserve (WA), and PRBO Conservation Science (CA) for a look at the success of the project and future needs.      

Partners shared success stories and brainstormed ways to improve diversity in their educational programming. The efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in long-term changes in the way participants want to do outreach.  Organizers of the Leavenworth Bird Fest in Washington, for example, are working to hire a community member who will focus on engaging Latino community members.  Similar discussions are being held at other sites.  
Advisory council members reviewed the marketing material, study results, and environmental education outreach work. Their ideas have helped us develop the outline for a Connecting Cultures "Toolkit," an on-line resource that will provide case studies, templates, references, and other information organizations and agencies need to begin expanding their education programs.

Thank you to the Advisory Council and partners for all of your support and enthusiasm. This project depends on you!

Advisory Council
Pictured above (l to r): Mariamar Gutierrez (Intern Liaison), Natasha Kerr (EFTA), Jose Lugo (EFTA), Edwin Juarez (AZ Game & Fish), Fernando Villalba (NPS), Susan Bonfield (EFTA), Gretchen Whitman (NJ Audubon), Carol Beidleman, Mike Rizo (USFS) Behind the Rock: Greg Stevens (AAM), Marcella Wells (Wells Consulting), Heather Murphy (WA Study Site), and Kim Ramirez (USFS)
Latino Participation Triples in Colorado
Latino participation in the annual fall Bird Fest at Barr Lake State Park in Colorado tripled in 2011, from just 7% in 2009 to over 24%. EFTA partnered with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the park to provide bilingual information about the event, a bilingual bird walk, outreach to diverse audiences, and marketing in newspapers and magazines. Local resident, Jose Lugo, joined EFTA and delivered programs at libraries, local events, and after-school activities to help spread the word.
Our success at Bird Fest is mirrored at other study sites.  We'll provide updates in future newsletters.
Advisory Council Highlight
Fernando Villalba, National Park Service 

It has been enlightening and inspirational working with such informed and dedicated professionals who are putting into practice the changes that are necessary to expand our society's environmental literacy. 


Raised in the inner city of East Los Angeles, Fernando began his National Park Service (NPS) career in 2000 at the young age of 18 after being recruited by Santa Monica Mountain

s National Recreation Area. Since, he has worked for the NPS in various states across the country, including Utah and New York, and currently serves as a biologist in California. 


Fernando's environmental education is somewhat unique among his colleagues, learning early on how to find nature in urban settings. While studying wildlife biology and Chicano studies at the University of California-Davis, he also developed an understanding of the important role natures plays in people's health and development, encouraging him to later gain a master's degree in Native American studies from Davis, focusing on engaging Indigenous communities in conservation of traditional lands. This experience allowed him to further incorporate his deep reverence for nature with his keen interest in its cultural significance.


Fernando strongly feels that the Connecting Cultures project will help build upon the knowledge base of how we can break the cultural barriers within the sciences, which limits not only people's access to education, but also the advancement of their socioeconomic conditions, and environmental justice. Fernando is hopeful that the results can help conservation agencies, like the NPS, enhance outreach and education programs. He is excited about working further with all those involved and learning from his participation.

Conference Presentations 


EFTA began disseminating information on the progress and results of Engaging Latinos In Informal Science Education. Educators, resource managers, and others were eager to hear about the project at: 

  • North American Association for Environmental Education  (Raleigh, NC)
  • National Association for Interpretation (Saint Paul, MN)
  • Changing the Face of American Birding Conference (Philadelphia, PA)
We had a full room at every conference and evaluations indicate the need and support for this work.

I can use this information to better serve my entire community.

Very informative session.

Great inspiration for my site...thanks for your research!

Simple, clean, helpful.  Awesome.

Excellent!  Great combo of research & tangible
take homes to use.
Calendar of Events  
November 2011
Development of internship descriptions for 2012 project.

About Environment for the Americas

Environment for the Americas, home of International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), is a non-profit organization working to increase awareness of birds and their conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere. We provide the framework and education materials for bird festivals and events, host a directory of bird education resources, offer bird workshops for educators, and motivate people of all ages to get outdoors to learn about birds. Find out more at

Environment for the Americas
Home of International Migratory Bird Day

2129 13th Street, Suite I
Boulder, Colorado 80302