The Community Naturalists

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Freddie Portillo

“Growing up I was always fascinated with nature, but when I found out that not many people in my community really cared or were interested in nature it kind of made me sad, I wanted to show everyone else what they were missing out on. Eventually through the Naturalist Explorers program with Community Nature Connection, my love for nature was expanded. Working part-time for CNC, I had plenty of opportunities to get communities involved and exposed to nature. Eventually the Community Naturalist Leadership Program interested me because it seemed like a logical next step, not only because it gives people like me a chance to grow, but because it helps the outdoors become more diverse.”

Vianey Moreno

“My name is Vianey Moreno and I am the daughter of two immigrant parents from Oaxaca, Mexico. During my mother’s young years she took care of pigs, cows, goats, and chickens at her family’s farm, spending most of her days from sunrise to sunset outside. However, time outside was out of the need for the survival of her family, as she tells me, “Our animals provided us food and income, it was our way of staying alive.” When my parents moved to the United States, the meaning of the outdoors switched, we spent some weekends at our local park in order to get out for a few hours but that was all I knew growing up. It was not until my freshman year in college when I joined Community Nature Connection’s Naturalist Explorers that I learned of the natural world in depth. I discovered green spaces that I couldn’t have ever imagined were just miles away from home. I set up a tent for the first time and camped at my first national park. I joined the Community Naturalist Leadership Program in order to improve my professional and interpretation skills and grow as a community naturalist.”

Bryan Casarez

“I did not spend my early childhood surrounded by the outdoors. Instead, I was constantly surrounded by tall buildings, huge crowds, and loud noises. At the age of fourteen, my brother Andrew began to go camping and got to visit the outdoors and his interesting stories of nature influenced me to become interested as well. That is when I joined the Naturalist Explorers through Community Nature Connection. Since then I have gained memorable experiences that have had an impact as I grow up. Being part of CNC as an Outdoor Leader influenced me to join the Community Naturalist Leadership Program as I saw a great opportunity to gain even more exposure to the outdoors.”

Jose Garcia

“My name is Jose Garcia and I grew up completely disconnected to the outdoors. When I was first introduced to the outdoors, I fell in love. This exposure made me want to find employment in the outdoors and thanks to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and Community Nature Connection, I’ve been able to do the work I enjoy. I want to improve my skills as a naturalist and that is why I continue to learn and find more opportunities for development like the Community Naturalist Leadership Program.”