Hispanic Heritage Month: Joshua Carrera

Nature Opened My Eyes

See how Josh began his journey in conservation.


Joshua Carrera is a 2007 LEAF Alum who is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He recently completed a degree in Natural Resources Planning at the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.

During his time at UVM, he was awarded numerous scholarships to participate in conservation work throughout Latin America. In Ecuador, he studied the biodiversity of cloud forests and in Brazil he conducted research on balancing the needs of the Amazon rainforest with the needs of the farmers.

Joshua is now in a dual degree program at Colorado State University and El Colegio De La Frontera Sur in Campeche, Mexico, working towards a Master of Science in Conservation Leadership.


What led you to pursue degrees in conservation?


I wasn’t too sure of a career in conservation when I started studying it in college. I had an interest in environmental issues ever since my LEAF experience with The Nature Conservancy but it wasn’t until I spent a year in Latin America working with conservation that I truly knew it was the path for me. The time that I spent in the Andean mountains of Ecuador and the tropical rainforest of the Amazon showed me the explicit relationship between people’s livelihoods, poverty, and the health of their natural resources. Growing up in New York City our connection to nature is sometimes difficult to see but upon my return I was more conscious of how my well-being was also tied to the proximity of healthy food, green spaces and experiences with nature. I wanted to understand our connection to nature more so I pursued degrees in conservation.


How can Latinos get more involved in conservation or environmental fields?


The opportunities for Latinos to get involved in conservation have never been greater. The environmental movement is going through a phase of reflection in which it is recognizing that it needs to include diverse perspectives if it is to remain relevant. The first and easiest tip is to find what your local green spaces are. Neighborhood parks are a great way to spend time with the family recreating, enjoying food, and taking a break. Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills with friends and families so finding opportunities such as planting trees or cleaning up a local beach is a great way to give back to your community. Finally, if you’re a student then consider one of infinite possibilities of pursuing a degree that has an environmental focus to it. Green jobs will become increasingly in demand as problems such as climate change create a need to address problems that will impact all aspects of our lives.


Why do you think it’s important to work on conservation issues throughout Latin America?


Latin America is a region of extremely rich biological and cultural diversity. The region is the perfect example of the interconnection between a healthy environment and people’s well being. It is important to work on conservation issues throughout Latin America because it is a living lab for us to figure out the right balance between the needs of people and the sustainable use of our natural resources. More importantly, the region is experiencing the same economic boom that industrial countries experienced almost a century ago which I believe has caused much of our ecological crisis. This is our chance to figure out how we can create an economic system that doesn’t continue the unsustainable use of resources and increasing human inequality.


Do you think you’ve been an agent or catalyst for change in your community regarding conservation?


When we think of great conservation leaders in the US the folks that most people are familiar with are people such Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carlson, and Gifford Pinochet. These conservationists paved the path for the modern day environmental movement but the diversity of this country is changing and we need leaders that reflect this change. I think that I am an agent of change for my community regarding conservation because I bring a perspective on environmental issues that historically has not been present. I, like our great conservation forefathers, am paving the way for the new generation of conservation leaders.


Why is the environment or conservation of particular importance to the Latino community?


The environment is important to the Latino community because it has always served as a space for recreation and family gathering. In other words, the environment is essential to how Latinos bond and create communal ties. Latinos are a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and spending time outdoors is a great way of creating a community across ethnic boundaries.


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