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Viva la Naturaleza

May 18, 2014

Viva la Naturaleza families

Okanogan Highlands Alliance sponsored a new kind of educational event called, "Viva la Naturaleza," in partnership with the Tonasket School Garden, Tonasket High School MEChA  Club, Tonasket School District, Tonasket Migrant PAC, AmeriCorps/VISTA, Team Naturaleza, and the Viva la Naturaleza Student Leadership Team.

The event aimed to connect Latino community members with the natural world and was part of OHA’s “Highland Wonders” educational series. The El Mundo press was present to share the story of this event with the Latino community across 15 counties in WA State, and the Gazette-Tribune was also present to share the story with the local community.

Norma Gallegos

The Viva la Naturaleza event began with an introduction from Norma Gallegos (above), who provides a diverse array of nature-based learning opportunities to Latino families in the Wenatchee area via a program called Team Naturaleza. 
 
Tonasket School Garden
 
The families were invited into the School Garden, where Tonasket Migrant Ed/ESL Teacher and School Garden board member, Tyler Graves gave a talk about the school garden and invited families to join in helping to improve the soil by planting a cover crop. 

Viva la Naturaleza


Student Leader Hilda

After raking the cover crop seed into the soil, families participated in a native plant hike.
 
Viva la Naturaleza

The hike featured an "Each One Teach One" structure, which allowed our student leaders and other community members to teach about native plants one-on-one to each family as they walked from station to station along the trail.

George Thornton teaches a station along the plant hike

George Thornton, a local botanist, retired high school teacher, and President of OHA’s board, provided technical assistance for developing the hike and also taught at a station. 
 
Student Leader Fernanda teaches about native plants

The student leaders demonstrated natural ability as teachers. Student Leader Fernanda Abrego taught families about yarrow and locoweed at her station. "Let me tell you about two of my favorite plants!" she exclaimed. Fernanda's enthusiasm was contagious, and the families crowded around to see the plant characteristics and ethnobotanical information she described.


Exploration Hunt

After the plant hike, families were given exploration booklets with clues about six different native plants. 
  
Exploration Hunt
The families walked a portion of the trail, working to match living plants with the clues in the booklets, written in both Spanish and English.

Exploration Hunt

Families collected plant specimens and taped them into the booklets alongside the matching clues, and the booklets could then be pressed to create a mini-plant guide and memento from the experience. 
  
Exploration Hunt

Family members worked on their "exploration hunt" booklets together, enjoying the sunshine, the view, and a mutual feeling of satisfaction from spending time and expanding horizons together in the natural world.

 
Tyler Graves cooking the Carne Asada
The event concluded with a barbecue that included tasty carne asada, and homemade salsa and side dishes. Above teacher Tyler Graves is cooking the carne asada.

Certificates of Appreciation and Discover Passes were presented to the Student Leadership team, and closing remarks were given by Norma Gallegos of Team Naturaleza. 

Student Leader Rosemary receives her certificate Hilda receives her certificate Fernanda receives her certificate
Student leaders Rosemary, Hilda, and Fernanda receive their certificates.




Closing remarks from Norma Gallegos and Julie Ashmore

Norma applauded the families for being involved in their children's education. She emphasized the importance of father involvement, and families were encouraged to continue exploring and experiencing local natural areas.
 
Leadership Team

The leadership team convened after the event to debrief, and there was a strong consensus of success and appreciation. The student leaders expressed gratitude for the opportunity for their families and friends to be involved. The students are keen to build on this experience by offering more “Viva la Naturaleza” events in the future. They described how some of their friends who originally chose not to participate are now eager to be a part of it too.


This event was a collaboration between several entities and was coordinated by the following individuals: Tyler Graves, Scott Olson, Hanna Kliegman, Julie Ashmore, George Thorton, Lee Miller, Martha Wisdom, Norma Gallegos, and the Student Leaders: Hilda Celestino, Rosemary Luna, and Fernanda Abrego.

Big thank you’s go out to:
  • Maria Gonzales and Oroville Harvest Foods for supplying excellent carne asada meat at an affordable rate
  • Gustavo Montoya of El Mundo for the surprise donation of soccer publications that were much appreciated by the families, and for assistance with translation during the plant hike
  • LaVonne Hammelman and the Oroville Seed Library for donating carrot and beet seeds for families to take home and grow, extending their school garden experience 
  • Norma Guiterrez for assistance with translation during the plant hike
  • Sabrina Norrell (AmeriCorps) for assistance with the cover crop activity in the garden
  • Jane Thompson for tilling the garden in preparation for the cover crop activity
  • Junior leadership group: Raphaela, Daisy and Madeline
  • The event leadership team for the time and effort invested to make this event a success
  • The families who participated, for making the most of the experience