¡Descubre Outside, Discover Afuera! Engaging Latino Youth in Environmental Education
The IssueIn 2014, Latino’s became the “new majority” in California, with ~15 million people representing 38.75% of the total population (Los Angeles Times, July 2015). California’s Latinos under age 18 now comprise 23.2% of the overall state population (U.S. Census Quickfacts, 2016). They are also among the most under-represented groups in conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education organizations (Latino Outdoors, 2017), even though polls show that Latinos in the US are concerned with environmental issues (Earthjustice, 2015). A curriculum designed by UC Berkley and UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program (YDP) is seeking to motivate Latino and other underrepresented groups to explore the outdoors through environmental education experiences.
What Has ANR Done?¡Descubre Outside! Discover Afuera! is a program designed by UC ANR 4-H YDP in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s California Outdoor Engagement Coalition. The program is designed to motivate youth to explore the outdoors through a series of six culturally relevant and inclusive environmental education experiences, including a mini BioBlitz in their community and at McConnell State Park. During the BioBlitz, students observe plants and animals, soil, and other aspects of the local biome. Participants then implement and present Environmental Action Projects to serve as environmental stewards in their communities.
Merced County was the first 4-H program to pilot ¡Descubre Outside! Discover Afuera!. As an incentive, participants also received an Every Kid in a Park pass, giving them and their families free access to all federally owned lands and waters for a full year.
Youth increased their environmental knowledge and interest in participating in 4-H projectsForty-three, mostly Latino youth, participated in the pilot led by three high school students. The pre-post evaluation shows that as a result of their participation, 97 % of the youth participating expressed that they care about the environment, and 80 % said this program has helped them to learn about environmental issues. All of the participants noted that they now enjoy spending time outdoors. More than 80 % of the participants reported that they are more aware of environmental issues in their school or community. Finally, 100 % of the youth who participated in this afterschool project have indicated that they want to do more 4-H projects.
Clientele TestimonialOne student, when asked if they want to return to the park that was visited during the BioBlitz said “it is fun to go camping! There is so much to do there.”
"The experience that I had with the 4-H Biodiversity was very helpful for the students and also for myself. Being one of the leaders I have learned how to lead the children in a way they can understand what I am saying." –Chelsea. Teen teacher
“This was her first year ever doing something like [it] and she and I both agree that we want more of Descubre Outside, Discover Afuera!” – Sonja, parent.