Artists, legislators, community organizers and academics came together at the three-day GreenLatinos’s National Summit to discuss the environmental movement, environmental justice, and how people can move forward in these disparate times. 

These events were my first activity as the Southwest field conservation intern this summer and helped me prepare to dive into Texas wildlife campaigns.   

Isabella Orta DOW Intern at the Green Latinos National Summit
Isabella Orta

The National Summit was truly awe-inspiring. Despite people of color having started the environmental movement, I have seen little diversity in the field thus far in my career, as I told my mentor, Texas Representative Azalia Rodríguez. From June 5 to June 8, I met and learned from activists from Puerto Rico, Argentina, and throughout the United States — even some from my home city of Austin. This was an amazing experience, and it was the first time that I was in a room with a bunch of people who looked like me, discussing the wildlife and habitats that surround us. 

Meeting and listening to Susana Almanza, a longtime environmental justice advocate and founder of People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources, was a highlight of the summit. Almanza was the keynote speaker on the last night and delivered a heartfelt speech about the longtime history of major corporations dumping chemicals and waste into the East Austin neighborhood that exposes residents to health and environmental concerns, which is what we know as environmental racism.  Almanza has spent over 50 years fighting the good fight to protect people and the planet.  

Jose Gonzalez Speaking at GreenLatinos Summit
Isabella Orta

I also attended a breakout session that featured, former school teacher and community organizer at Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Diana Haro’s talk on human relationships with wildlife, and Founder of Latino Outdoors José González spoke about how we can embrace the healing process when it comes to connections, friendships, the workplace, and more specifically, how to walk away when something is not serving us and how to accept the things that do. We then went on a hike at Phil Hardberger Park to get up close and personal with nature.  

The summit was an amazing experience that jump-started an amazing internship, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am looking forward to working in conservation. I have always had a love for the flora and fauna with which we share the Earth, and I am passionate about protecting our planet. 


This blog was written by Isabella Orta, Defenders' Southwest field conservation intern.


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