“Yo Cuento Outdoors”
Latino Outdoors is a beautiful Latino-Led organization. These leaders are working to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education. Part of this work is focused on expanding and amplifying the Latino experience in the outdoors; providing greater opportunities for leadership, mentorship and professional opportunities and serving as a platform for sharing cultural connections and narratives that are often overlooked by the traditional movement.
“Vamos afuera” con Nohemi Mora who is an Outdoor Leader in Denver, CO and a first generation Mexican-American (and proud Tejana!) from Dallas, TX.
What are the earliest memories of you in the outdoors with a connection to nature?
My earliest memories in the outdoors connecting to nature are in Mexico. When I was in grade school my mom would take my brother and I to visit family in Guanajuato and Michoacan as soon as summer vacation began and we would stay all the way until the new school year started. I think of my visits to the rancho where my tios live. They would pick us up from my grandma’s house in their trucks. My brother and I loved the fact that we would get to ride in the back of the truck. Back then it took us hours to get to the rancho as there was a bumpy, dirt road that led us there. While we rode in the back with my cousins, we would drive past beautiful scenery. We would see green hills, plenty of farmland, and I remember we would count the number of lizards we saw scrambling across the dirt road (it was like a game). And once we got to my uncles rancho, it was a break from the concrete jungle of home. I loved following my aunts and cousins to the farm and playing amongst the cattle (calves are my favorite farm animal!), sugar cane, and rows of corn. These visits to Mexico definitely planted the seed in me to appreciate nature.
What is your story in relation to what you do now in the outdoor space?
I am an Outings Leader for Latino Outdoors in Colorado. It’s been an exciting journey as I had followed LO on Facebook for a couple of years before I became involved. At that time, the closest active LO group was four hours away from me and at the time it wasn’t feasible for me to get involved. However, when I moved to Denver it was one of the first things I got involved in besides grad school. I’ve led hiking and snowshoeing outings through LO, attended conferences and local events, and made connections with all sorts of environmental organizations. I want to provide opportunities for the Latino community to enjoy the outdoors even though some people think that they aren’t “the outdoorsy type”. I still have ties to Dallas and wish to encourage my friends back home to enjoy the pockets of outdoor spaces that we do have. Once I finish grad school, I hope to combine my interests in Student Affairs and outdoor recreation.
What makes the outdoors special to you and how do you keep that connection?
The views definitely always make an outing worth it but there is much more than that. To me the outdoors is special because it keeps me in tune with my physical strength, I can disconnect from the daily grind, have some time to reflect about the things that matter to me (solo hikes are awesome though sometimes scary!), and I can connect and learn new things about my friends when we go out together. I am very fortunate that at this point in my life I have somewhat of a flexible schedule so I can sometimes go hiking on a random weekday or have long weekends. I can just get in my car and drive into the mountains.
What is your favorite outdoor outing to date?
Love this question because it is very recent! Just this past weekend I went to Glacier National Park to celebrate my birthday. It’s my favorite outing because it seemed like such a distant reality from when I first came up with the idea. I saw an image of St. Marys Lake on Facebook about a year ago and told myself, “I’m gonna see that one day”. But I didn’t quite want to put those miles on my vehicle, and a plane ticket is very expensive. This year I turned 25, in a somewhat jokingly manner I wanted to celebrate by renting a car (since the rates are cheaper for 25+), as some kind of rite of passage. I specifically wanted to rent a Jeep Wrangler because I like Jeeps. I think they’re cool and embody the spirit of adventure (Jeep, sponsor me?). The drive up there is about 18 hours, the park being about 30 minutes from the Canadian border. Who would I go with? How will I get there? What if the car breaks down? What if we don’t have the necessary gear? What if all the planning falls through? I don’t know anybody in Montana! But I have amazing friends that simply said, “which weekend, so I can ask for the days off” when I told them about this idea. And slowly, piece by piece the trip formed. We borrowed each others gear, pitched in for new gear, and took off! I had a good group of friends there (shout out to y’all), that rolled with whatever uncertainties we faced when we got there. I really liked this trip because Glacier NP was on all of the group’s list of places to visit, and I loved hearing people’s comments on how amazed they were with the sights, or how different this experience was compared to other outings they have done. And of course the time spent with my friends whether we were filling up at a gas station, eating at Roadhouse Diner, stuffing ourselves with Takis, Cheetos, birthday cake, or struggling to build a campfire.
A sunrise or a sunset?
Sunsets! Mostly because I’m not a morning person. This question reminds me of a time I did a sunset hike in Acadia National Park. One of the most magical things I’ve seen.
Any advice you would offer to a person of color in the outdoor space?
Whether in a group or on a solo adventure, my advice is to take ownership of the space. These are public lands and the resources available are for your use. Whether you’re walking an urban trail or primitive camping. Go into the ranger station and ask questions, greet your neighbors at the campgrounds, say hi to people on the trail, get a state parks pass or National Parks pass. We got to let them know that we’re here and that we enjoy the outdoors too #YoCuento. And more importantly encourage other POC to join you as well.
What is on your outdoor bucket list?
My outdoor bucket list includes many faraway places. However high on the priority list is taking my parents, brother, and cuñada camping. My parents have a different view of the outdoors than I do. Growing up their families worked the land, depended on good rain, had spotty potable water supply, and they navigated rugged roads without hiking boots. In my generation, spending time recreating outdoors is more optional and our livelihood doesn’t depend on it like it did for our parents. I would like for them to have an opportunity where they can sit back, enjoy trails, and landscapes that they are unfamiliar with.
Thank you so much Nohemi for sharing your story with us.
I am so honored to be surrounded by ladies leading the way into the wild. This Texas girl in particular is not letting the fear of the unknown hold her back. She is slowly becoming a fearless leader representing her community and making sure her cultura is never lost on the trails. Every time I see her it’s a little bit of sunshine that just gets brighter every time.
“She is where she is meant to be”.
This summer the Colorado team had the pleasure of camping with TIME to show them how they have found sisterhood in not only each other but in the outdoors. Check out the link “Camping in Colorado with the Women of Latino Outdoors“~ Time.