Collaboration with Vive Northwest and PSU Indigenous Nations Studies:
In recent years UGI and has pursued initiatives to diversify the conservation community. UGI helped form and continues to actively support The Intertwine Alliance, which has fostered new initiatives and nonprofit startup’s serving diverse youth in conservation, the outdoors, environmental education, and active transportation. UGI has served as fiscal sponsor for and led a series of projects to bring Native American voices into The Intertwine Alliance community and address conservation needs highlighted by the Regional Conservation Strategy.

These efforts include the Sense of Place, OakQuest and KelipiCamas projects, which engaged Portland State University’s Indigenous Nations Studies Program and Native American Youth and Family Center. Under OakQuest, three emerging Native women leaders were employed and mentored in conservation science, leading an effort to map Oregon white oak across the region. As part of the ongoing KelipiCamas effort, Native youth explore traditional ecological stewardship practices at natural areas, as means to assist with site restoration and strengthen community within the urban Native American youth community.

In 2015 UGI helped ViveNW launch and continues to serve as fiscal sponsor.  This is UGI’s latest manifestation of this work to diversify the regional conservation community.

As the Portland-Vancouver region diversifies, there is a growing need to cultivate environmental leadership and stewardship within underserved minority communities in a culturally appropriate manner. Although a variety of conservation and outdoor recreation organizations serve diverse youth populations, there is a deficit of diverse and bilingual youth mentors. The cultural disconnect between predominantly white, privileged conservation/outdoor mentors and the non-white youth mentees hinders development of diverse next-generation conservation leaders. Latino/a youth need Latino/a adult mentors to model in their personal and career development.

Jorge Guzman (right), Director of Vive NW meeting with Congressman Earl Blumenauer at Vive NW health and nature symposium
Jorge Guzman (right), Director of Vive NW meeting with Congressman Earl Blumenauer at Vive NW health and nature symposium

Vive Northwest: Numerous organizations agency and nonprofit organizations have approached Vive Northwest seeking Latino/a professionals to mentor youth. However, Vive Northwest currently lacks capacity to engage and network its 3,000+ Hispanicpros professionals with these opportunities.

To address this need Vive Northwest and UGI have secured funds from Meyer Memorial Trust and other foundations to train 100 Latino/a professionals in three cohorts to deploy as youth mentors with twenty conservation and outdoor recreation organizations across the region. Vive Northwest will create an online, jobs board-like interface linking trained Latino/a professionals with service-placements at host organizations. Vive Northwest and UGI will develop trainings and connect mentor trainees with appropriate host organizations, and familiarize mentors with regional conservation and outdoor sector leaders, initiatives, and opportunities so that they can better serve youth. Our proposal will help eliminate barriers to participation in outdoor recreation/nature for Latino/as, improve health and wellness outcomes, and cultivate support for regional conservation and parks within an important growing population segment.