Luis Angel Cruz, Senior, GreenSchools! Co-op Green Ambassador Captain and Curriculum Lead - The Green Institute- Furr High School; (Serves 5 schools and a community center)
This movement started as a prescribed fire, now it has spread as a wildfire throughout all over Houston, TX… we all share a goal…. a mission that keeps us united… a fight that keeps us motivated and ready…to unify, conserve and restore.
We are now in Washington D.C., to speak up and present at the 2015 National Environmental Justice Conference and to share our passion and love for the movement…
Love, Passion, and Heart!
Before all of this happened…we were in Houston, TX… working with elementary, middle and high school students, implementing Project Learning Tree curriculum. None of us…absolutely none of us had the idea of teaching younger students and even students of our age. From being shy to talking to hundreds of people…from not appreciating education…to creating our own curriculum…from close to dropping out of high school…to teaching conservation education to all ages…this is only part of my story. Every single member of our team has a story to share, but like this movement impacted us we wish to leave an impact in the lives of the younger generations to come, the next conservation leaders. It’s our sole mission, we hold each other responsible and accountable to do so. We wish to continue empowering the next generation of Green Ambassadors that will go back to their elementary and middle schools by the time they become seniors in high school and while attending college. A program that is self-sustained by youth.
The mission is to continue spreading the conservation message and keep passing down the knowledge and legacy through the community. The program has been able to provide a small stipend to all Green Ambassadors, this has allowed for us to invest in personal tools and kits in which we may need for fruit tree pruning, purchase of books, certifications in permaculture and organic specialist training. Many families in the East End sustain under $12,000 a year, and with the small stipend provided, it has allowed for us to invest into our education and prepare for our careers.
These contributions have allowed for many of our parents and administrators to see that it is a program to invest your passion and energy. It has given us access to many fields, empowered and prepared us for the green industry in natural resource careers. Just look! We made it to D.C.! J
Transcending the Odds:
Some cultural issues many of us face being first generation Latinos in the United States is that most of our families are unaware of the resources readily available to us. Internships, volunteering and fields in natural resources are seen as fields which may not provide us to a stable career. The backgrounds
of our parents come from a very strong work ethic, are mothers and fathers began providing income for their families under the age of ten. Some jobs include agricultural harvest work in the fields, shining shoes, cleaning houses and offices, construction and other rigorous physical work. Don’t get our parents wrong, they love and support us, but when they see us working physical and rigorously through the movement, they fear for us, they fear will might not be focused and many wish for us to aspire to the “medical doctor” and “lawyer” status.
We have been winning our parents and families hearts through the support of our administrators and partners. U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas –Latino Legacy, Project Learning Tree, GreenSchools! and Universities such as Stephen F. Austin State University, have provided access and mentorship to our community and with their commitment the odds have been transcended.
This Green Ambassador program only started three years ago, over nine years of grassroots efforts and dedication and we are now in Washington D.C. I can’t imagine what the next years would look like… and I’m super excited for the next generation of conservation leaders of the future. Thank you for all your support! The movement lives! Latino Legacy lives! Food Forest for all! Share in the bounty!