Lasting protections for land and water are accomplished through building community rooted in conservation. CSU celebrates Latino Conservation Week (LCW) because we are committed to building a stronger conservation community in Southwest Utah—one that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and lifts the voices of all our residents.
LCW is a nationwide celebration of the Latino community’s role in conservation and environmental stewardship. CSU organized St. George’s first ever Latino Conservation Week in 2019 and continued the tradition this year (we skipped 2020 and 2021 due to COVID).
CSU’s 2022 celebration of Latino Conservation Week supported the Latino community getting outdoors and engaging in activities to protect natural resources. Between July 18th and 23rd, we offered five events to 210 people, including 75 kids. Thanks to all who participated and made new friends along the way! During LCW 2022 we added 30 new CSU members and 10 community partners who believe, like we do, that building conservation community is fun and rewarding!
CSU kicked off LCW on Monday, July 18th with a workshop by Angela Patino-Acevedo, a Columbian professor of biology and greenhouse manager at Southern Utah University. While parents listened to Angela’s tips for water saving and xeriscaping with native plants in her Paisajismo con Plantas Nativas del Sur de Utah presentation, kids made native seed “cookies” packed with globemallow and desert marigold seeds to plant in their yards to attract pollinators.
On Tuesday, we gathered at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Center for a free museum tour. Everyone appreciated the newly-installed signs in Spanish, the dinosaur scavenger hunts, and the chance to learn about the paleontological resources protected on public lands in Washington County, including the incredible Grallator and Eubrontes tracks in the Red Cliffs NCA!
Youth and family outreach is an important component of LCW, so we designed events to help us connect with the next generation of conservationists. On Thursday morning, we met at the Brooks Nature Park for a nature walk, bilingual storytelling session, and desert tortoise outreach. Bryan Loya from the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve read nature stories to children in English and Spanish and then we made tortoise Ojos de Dios yarn crafts that will remind families of how special it is that we share our red rock home with the threatened Mojave desert tortoise every time they see them.
To cope with the heat, we hosted some indoor events, like Friday’s Red Cliffs Reptile Celebrity Meet n’ Greet at the public library. It was great teaming up with our friends at SUWA to introduce families to the threatened and endangered species ambassadors of the Red Cliffs NCA, including a live Gila monster, desert tortoise, and California King Snake. Dozens of children and their parents learned how to protect the desert tortoise by becoming Certified Tortoise Defenders!
On Saturday morning, LCW culminated with a Community Bikes and Bagels Ride along the Virgin River Trail. Bike lovers of all ages showed up on two wheels, three wheels, striders and elliptical bikes! We were even able to wrangle four bikes from the St George Bicycle Collective, so that a family whose bikes had just been stolen could participate. We fueled up on bagels while learning about the ABC’s of bike safety, with a focus on keeping young riders safe. Multimodal transportation is a component of smart growth and is important to CSU, so we loved making this a reality during LCW with this ride along the beautiful boardwalk trail!