In celebration of Latino Conservation Week, we are recognizing SCA staff, members, and alumni who identify as Latinx. Meet SCA’s Chicago Program Manager, Samuel Vergara!
Sam (pictured above in the middle) is a native Chicagoan who grew up in the Greater Lawndale Area. He strives to rebuild connections with nature through experiences and education. He loves family, friends, and his culture. He keeps rooted in his community and welcomes many to his community. He loves cooking for others and sharing his culture through food, as well as growing his own food in his urban backyard garden.
SCA: What is your first memory of nature/spending time outdoors or do you have a specific memory?
Sam: Being out with my family on the Ranch when we took family trips to Laredo Texas. My first plant I grew to love was the Nopal or cactus, as well as the plants that grew in my grandmother’s backyard. Seeing spiders, lizards, and all sorts of critters was one of my favorite childhood pastimes.
SCA: How did you get your start in conservation and what is your favorite part about your SCA role?
Sam: I got started when I was hired for an SCA/Friends of the Forest Preserves Urban Prescribed Fire Program. As an intern, I was working in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County performing prescribed fires out in our prairies and lots of trail maintenance. I truly learned how to appreciate and conserve our green spaces. My favorite part about my role with SCA is offering teens an opportunity to do something with their time.
SCA: What are some ways you think the outdoors can be made more inclusive for Latinx and BIPOC youth?
Sam: Making an effort to celebrate our holidays and traditions. Also, decolonizing educations and looking back to ancestral knowledge and continuously seeking out ways to include Latinx and BIPOC members in processes.