To all of my women bosses…

This blog post is dedicated to all of the women bosses I’ve had a chance to work with in my life.

First of all, thank you. Thank you for believing in me in a way that I did not believe in myself at the time.

Generally, I am a very confident and determined person, but sometimes my anxieties and fears get the best of me. For the longest time, I was persuing the wrong career path and was feeling extremely defeated. During this time, I took up a retail job at H&M where the manager, a women, took a chance on me and my “fashionable” mind. I worked this job for a short period of time, but never during this time did I feel belittled or like my voice could not be heard. My opinion, and the opinion of my coworkers, always mattered. She was a great leader.

After I left this job, I moved on to becoming a writing assistant and switched my major to Environmental Studies. While being at this part-time job, I applied for a summer internship with the Latino Heritage Internship Program after my best friend sent it to me. The internship would be in Everglades National Park. I never thought I would even get an interview…I had failed so many times before in my engineering career that I didn’t think anyone could see past my low GPA. Turns out, I never put my GPA in my resume and never got asked about it during my phone interview. I think what gave me a higher change during this interview is my passion. The passion I feel towards being able to educate anyone who wants to hear about ways we can make people care about the earth and our environment.

Weeks later I heard back from the LHIP contact letting me know I had gotten the job. I could not have been more excited. It was in something kind of different, education, but something I had been doing for some time. My writing assistant job was basically teaching kids how to write, so I could do this, right?

Yes, I could do it. And I did. Thanks to the two incredible, intelligent, kind-hearted women who gave me the chance to prove to them and myself that I could do it. I never once felt belittled or like I could not speak up. It was quite the opposite. They made me feel so welcomed and at home. Our team, though it had some men in it, was mainly women. All women who have and continue to inspire to be better. This internship taught me that no matter your background or how long it took, my goals could always be accomplished as long as I am passionate about it. I remember vividly during my last-day presentation that I couldn’t even express everything I wanted to because I started getting choked up. I knew I was going to miss the entire team and the little family we created during the summer. I will always be grateful and thankful. Thanks to my two incredible bosses, I validated that women can do anything and everything, even when the room is full of white men. I will forever be grateful for them and for the chance they took on me.

My second internship came not long after this one ended, where I was recommended to another Girl Boss in the administrative branch of the Everglades. She was in need of an intern who could do a lot of things: reception, help other employees, and anything else that needed to be helped with. At first, I didn’t think I had the time or the emotional energy to do it, but she did everything she could to make the job work with my busy school schedule. She got me a laptop so I can work from home. She let me come in late some days because I had class in the mornings. Everyone in the office always told me: If you ever need anything from her, she will find the solution. Everyone made her seem like THE woman to talk to. And she was. I will always be grateful to her. For always boosting my ego and telling me how valuable I was to the office. I will always be grateful for the other women I was able to work with, who also helped build my confidence and made me feel more validated. They helped me understand that even though I have my insecurities, I am a hard worker and intelligent (sometimes I forget that I am).

That internship led to another internship. Working with giant snakes, nonetheless. On Fridays, while at the administrative internship, I would help out some invasive reptile scientists with some work. And one Friday, I was asked if I wanted to work with them. I had never in my life been interested in snakes, but I learned early on to take any opportunities that are offered to me. I started working for them in May. My boss was another Girl Boss. She created the Ultimate Girl Gang, plus Austin. Not once during my time at this job did I ever get comments about me being a girl. Not once. She taught me to stop caring about what I think people are thinking. To stop limiting myself because of my gender. I know sometimes the gender limitation is a real thing, but I had been creating it for a while in my own head. They all taught me to do what I love no matter what. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that she gave me. That they all gave me. She took a chance on a girl who had never worked with reptiles or anything like it. I didn’t have research experience besides what I did in my classes and she still took the chance on me. I will always, always, always be grateful to the team. As I write this, I have tears in my eyes. Not sad, sad tears, just “I miss you guys” tears. I have never loved driving an hour to work more than I did with this group. Everyone welcomed me and everyone boosted each other up. We all worked hard all of the time. Some days were harder than others…it’s not easy getting pooped on by snakes every day, but I always went home feeling accomplished.

All of the jobs in this national park, thanks to these incredible boss women, I have the job I have now. Not the same Girl Boss energy, but still grateful for the job I have. I get sexist comments almost every week from civilians and sometimes I don’t feel the most welcome, but I am still grateful that because all of the women before gave me a chance, I have a chance now.

Thank you to my H&M manager, Allyson, Yvette, Jackie, Jill, and Charlotte for believing in me.

Collecting Things to Recycle in Miami!

Recently I decided that I am going to be collecting razors and their packaging, Febreze air care (not including aerosols), mascara wands, and single-use coffee cups, K-cups, and such. Make sure to email me at latinatreehugger@gmail.com or DM me at @latinatreehugger on Instagram if you have questions or want to drop some off to me!

No-Stink Summer 2019 (and on)

I started working recently in a job that requires me being outside A LOT. And here in Miami, that means heat and 90% humidity almost every day. Most days most of the A/C we get is from the cars we use to drive around and the lunch breaks in the office. It’s also officially summer, which means everyone needs to please, for the love of God, wear deodorant. I don’t want to have to be around stinky people (including myself) this summer. 

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Also recently, I finally finished my last deodorant stick. So, I decided that I would try to find a recipe for a deodorant that could help me stay dry and smelling fresh through my work days.

I googled a bunch of recipes and I decided that I wanted it to be as vegan as possible, so I didn’t want anything with beeswax in it. I found a really great recipe from BeautyMunsta (here). Her recipe only includes coconut oil, corn starch, baking soda, and she uses lemon eucalyptus essential oil. These are all things that most common households have in either their kitchen or anywhere else. I know I had most of these at home and the eucalyptus essential oil can be replaced with any essential you have at home.

So, I started the recipe by doing exactly what she said in her post. I mixed 4 tablespoons (more or less…I couldn’t actually find my tablespoon measure anywhere) of coconut oil, 5 of corn starch, one and one teaspoon of baking soda, and 20 or more drops of the essential oil, which in my case was eucalyptus.

The baking soda and corn starch as supposed to absorb the sweat and neutralize the stink. The coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, it moisturizes the skin, and it will prevent skin irritation and rashes. Something I didn’t know was that the lemon eucalyptus can also work as a bug repellant….so I guess this deodorant can also help keep the bugs away if you live somewhere that’s very buggy, like Miami.

You start by combining the ingredients, except the essential oil, in a pan over a low flame. Stir until everything melts and combines. Then let it cool off for around a minute and pour it into a glass jar. Not plastic because it could melt. Once in the jar, stir in the essential oil and you’re pretty much done.

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At first, my deodorant had a really, really liquidy consistency so I decided to add some more corn starch and some more baking soda. I was extremely impatient and realized that I probably had to let it sit for some time harden up.

I let it cool and harden overnight and VOILA, it worked!

It was not really a paste…so maybe sticking to the original recipe might have made it into a paste, but mine was more of the hardened deodorant consistency that I am used to. The only difference is that this one is in a glass jar and I have to scoop it out with a popsicle stick.

 

So, after I used it a couple of times in places like Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando and my job in the Everglades, I’ve come to the conclusion that it works. I do have to give you a warning that generally when I sweat, I don’t stink so much, but I haven’t been stinking at all at this job that would probably make me smell. I did add too much baking soda, which makes my armpits burn a little when I recently shave them, but it works otherwise. Just follow the recipe from BeautyMunsta and have patience and you should be good to go.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or head over the original recipe’s blog post. Definitely try this and let me know how it goes! Happy summer!

Until next time!

Dani

Episode 4: Twenty-Something Environmentalists

Hey guys! I’m finally back with another episode. I know it’s been quite some time since I posted one, but it has been a couple of crazy weeks for me. Nonetheless, I’m back with another episode and this time I’m accompanied by one of my fellow classmates, Adrian Figueroa. He is a senior, like me, at Florida International University studying Environmental Studies. We kind of talk a little about everything relating to our field and what it is like being environmentalists in this world and at our age. We touch on some issues regarding diversity within our field and things that we would do to help move that forward.

I hope you enjoy this longer episode and I will talk to you guys in a week (hopefully!).

Until next time,

Dani

Back to School? How to be waste-free at school.

It’s that time again for a lot of us.

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That time of year where we have to discontinue our binge-watching and get our lives together for.

BACK TO SCHOOL!

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I’m entering my final year at my university, but this year is different. I’m trying to be zero-waste this year, which makes shopping for school supplies a bit complicated.

I headed to Walmart with my brother the night before my semester starts, which was the worst idea I could have ever had, but we started to hunt for our supplies.

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I then realized, that I have to be as zero-waste as possible. It’s really hard to do that when all of the pens, pencils, markers, and other writing utensils come in plastic wrappings. Sure, the backing is cardboard (which we can recycle), but the wrapping covering them is plastic.

One of the blogs that I follow for zero-waste inspiration and shopping is called Package Free Shop. In this store you can find all sorts of package-free items like razors, toothbrushes, shopping bags, and other such things.

For back to school, they added some school supply items that are package free and sustainable. They have recycled paper notebooks, binders, and folders. They also have 100% cotton pencil pouches and book bags. I also recommend if you already have pencil pouches or notebooks that are half filled, just keep using them. If they have a rip, just do some basic sewing and fix it. That is one way that we create waste: by just throwing things way because we don’t like the anymore. There are DIY ways to just revamp something that we do not like anymore. Try to find those ways. If you really don’t want to keep it anymore, but it is still a good item, then just donate it to Goodwill or other secondhand-stores around you.

If you can’t get your supplies from this website and Walmart is just closer, then try to find the least wasteful things.

Pilot has pens that are called B2P (Bottle-2-pen), which launched in 2010. The gel ink and ball point pens are made from 89% and 83% recycled plastic bottles respectively. They are all 100% refillable.

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Notebooks are for the most part recyclable, but you can always try to reuse the ones from the last semester or school year. This way you can reduce the amount of waste you are causing. Always try to save things you used from the previous year so that you can use them for the following semester.

If you are in the market for a new notebook, there are these super cool reusable notebooks that I found out about last semester. They are called Rocketbook. It is a reusable, digital notebook. There is an app that the notebook goes with where you just upload the pages to and then erase it when you’re done.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Write notes.
  2. Choose a destination. You use symbols at the bottom of the pages that connect to your Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, OneNote, iCloud, iMessage, or Email. Each symbol represents a course that you are taking or a specific destination.
  3. Scan your pages.

To erase your notes, you just have to wipe them clean with water and a cloth. It’s really simple and can be used an endless amount of time.

It’s always a little difficult to be zero waste, but you just have to be conscious about the items you are grabbing and buying and how you can reduce your waste. Will it be recyclable? Can I refill it? Can I donate it when I’m done?

Good luck!

Until next time,

Dani

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

I’ve been away for around a week and for good reason.

This summer I had the chance to be an intern at Everglades National Park through a program called Latino Heritage Internship Program, LHIP for short. I was one of two LHIP interns at the Everglades. My job was to work with the education department and help them make their Nike Missile Site Program better.

I had the chance to explore new places in the park and around the park. Sadly, my internship has come to an end. To conclude it, LHIP hosted a conference in Colorado.

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We started our conference in Denver, Colorado in the Intermountain Regional Office for the National Parks Service. We got workshops relating to USAjobs.com and federal resumes. We also had the chance to present to the other 42 interns about our projects or what we spent all summer working on or doing. After the workshop, we started our travel to Boulder, Colorado, where we would have dinner and drive to Estes Park to sleep. Estes Park is the town right before Rocky Mountain National Park on the east side of the mountains.

The plan for the Rockies was to get an exclusive tour of the park since only one of the interns within the program had been working there. We had three “breakout sessions” where the group would be split into three and each person was able to go to two sessions. The three were fire and rescue, llamas, and trail maintenance. I chose the trails and llamas (of course). We were able to see how the rangers in the park are able to keep the park clean and maintained. They use horses for trail work and llamas for the backcountry bathrooms since the park is composed of mountains and you can’t exactly get up there by car.

Here are some pictures of the llamas. We were able to walk them and be with the three llamas that the park leases for a couple of months. Their names were Dorito, Wilson, and Hector.

We were also able to make some stops before getting to the breakout sessions.

The park rangers that guided us took us to the highest peak in the park, where the altitude was no joke.

This trip was an incredible experience. I was able to connect with 41 other Latinos who were also heavily interested in working towards saving our environment. I had never been around a group as incredible as this. We all connected right away and still talk to each other every now and then. We’re already planning a reunion!

The point of this blog wasn’t just to talk about my trip, but to maybe persuade you to going to the closest national or state park. Get out and experience nature for an hour or a whole day. Disconnect and enjoy what this earth has provided you with. Get out there and find your park!

Until next time,

Dani

Why should we care about the environment?

I think this question has a pretty simple answer: if we don’t, then we will seize to exist.

Morbid, but true. Our overall temperature is increasing. I remember sometime in 2014, scientists were saying that if we increased in overall temperature by two degrees Celcius, then we were all going to burn to a crisp. Here we are, in 2018, just a degree away from the two. If that doesn’t make you care about the environment, then I honestly don’t know what will. According to NASA, 2017 was 0.9 degrees Celcius warmer than average temperatures. THAT’S ALMOST A WHOLE DEGREE!! IN JUST ONE YEAR!!!

This video was from 2013, since I couldn’t actually save the 2017 one (which I linked in the above paragraph).

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The Earth is warming up people!

Yes, using and throwing away plastic is awful because it ends up in ocean and in fish and eventually in our bodies, but there is another reason why single-use plastic sucks: it’s made from fossil fuels.

If that sentence didn’t just give you an epiphany, then let me break it down (see it what I did there? It’s punny) for you further.

Plastic in the United States is now most commonly sourced from the nation’s production of “abundant and affordable” natural gas. Natural gasses like ethane and propane. Do those sound safe? Because they’re not. These are also byproducts of petroleum. So, yes, both the oil and gas industries in this country are so happy that this nation makes so many single-use plastics. This is also why they have not been banned in our country. Sadly, everyone in this country and its politicians only care about one thing: MONEY.

In the US alone, producers of polyethylene are expecting to increase production capacity by as much as 75% by 2022. Why? We don’t need to do that. This is why I’m trying to encourage everyone I know to stop using single-use plastic. All we’re doing is releasing awful toxins into our ozone layer. An ozone layer that is already being extremely polluted by our cars, our businesses, factories, trucks, and anything that releases carbon dioxide.

But carbon dioxide isn’t even the worst chemical we are releasing into the ozone. Methane! Cows release methane every time they go to the bathroom. So by eating less cow meat and products, you are decreasing the supply of cows needed to produce the products. Hence, you are already helping the environment so much.

Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, in terms of its contribution to global warming. I’m not telling you to become a vegan, because God knows I can’t do that, but maybe try eating more fish or find alternatives for meats. Veggie burgers are delicious. Almond milk is way better than cow milk and it makes you feel better. Chicken meat is just as versatile as red meat.

I’m not here to try and force you to do anything you don’t want to, but I am here to try and make you more conscious about your decisions and how it will affect the rest of the planet.

Sure, it’s easy to just say “oops forgot I can’t use this spoon” when you get one in your delivery, but it’s also easy to just use your own utensils and write in the Special Instructions box that you don’t need a plastic fork or a straw.

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I’ll leave you with this image by www. bezero.org that I think helps.

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I personally believe in all of you. If my posts make every one of you make a small change, I will have been successful. It’s hard, I know, but you can do it!

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Latino Conservation Week 2018 – Everglades National Park

Today I had the chance, alongside Cesar, the other LHIP intern, to take out 20 latinos out into the swamp.

As an intern with the Latino Heritage Internship Program, we were tasked with creating some sort of event or program to help bring out Latinos into National Parks, ours being the Everglades. We decided that hosting an event would be the best idea.

I started with maybe hosting a night bike right through Shark Valley’s tram trail during the sunset…but that was kind of boring and something everyone does anyway.

My second idea was a slough slog! Earlier in the summer, I was able to go on a slough slog with my boss and the rest of the interns as part of our orientation of the park. Some of you might be thinking “What in the world is a slough slog?” Well…it’s the best way to experience the Everglades, in my opinion. It’s essentially a wet hike, but it’s not just a wet hike out into the sawgrass prairie. It’s a wet hike in waist deep water (my waist deep…I’m 5′ 2″) through a cypress dome. Cypress domes are the coolest things ever. They are composed of cypress trees.

These guys:

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They’re super skinny trees with giant bottom trunks. They like to grow in disturbed areas with a lower elevation than hardwood hammocks. Usually, in a cypress dome, there is an alligator hole where it all started. The trees in the center, closest to the alligator hole, tend to be the taller ones and as you move away from them, you start seeing shorter ones, thus, a cypress dome is created.

In our slough slog, we started out in the sawgrass prairie outside of the dome where you can find periphyton. When you first look at periphyton it looks like poop or something close to that, but really it’s all algae, bacteria, and little tiny organisms. Three kingdom groups in tiny, sponge-like material. They help filter the water as well and retain it when it is the dry season so the things inside of it can continue to grow.

Here we are popping our visitors’ slough slog cherry!

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Everyone seemed pretty excited after a couple of minutes because it was the hottest day and the water was actually really refreshing. We stopped for a while and Ranger Dylann gave a talk about periphyton and how the domes form. We gave everyone some time to adjust and become accustomed to the floor and being in the water.

Once out of the sawgrass prairie, we moved into the cypress dome. We walked around and talked about the bromeliads (air plants), we found a butterfly orchid in bloom and a cigar orchid that seemed to be coming back to life after Hurricane Irma.

When we got deeper into the dome, one of our visitors, who apparently has an incredible eye for wildlife, found a barred owl on one of the cypress trees.

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We continued and stopped every once in a while to admire the silence inside the dome. It was incredible to see other people, who love our National Parks and nature, enjoy something that to me has changed the way I see the Everglades. Since I have started my internship, I have now gone out to slough slog three times. Trust me, there will plenty of other times. If anyone out there lives near the Everglades and is tired of the same trails, go past the Pa-hay-okee Overlook Trail and go into a cypress dome. Of course, if you are going to do this, don’t forget to let someone at the visitor center know.

It was so awesome to see so many young Latinos come out and want to try something new. Everyone was so trusting of us and just went right into the prairie, no questions asked. Sure it was the hottest day to this day, but everyone forgot about that the second we stepped foot in the dome.

We also had a super special guest at our event: John Morales. For those of you who are not aware of who John Morales is, he is the person who we, South Floridians, watch for out weather. He is the one we watch during hurricane season. He is the senior meteorologist at NBC 6/Telemundo. He is honestly one of my greatest inspirations. Like everyone else, he seemed to enjoy the experience, even dropping pins whenever we would stop so he could bring some friends on another day.

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I really hope this event won’t be a one-time thing and that our local national park won’t forget that the majority of the population around it is made up of Latinos. Even though I won’t be with the park after my internship, until I graduate maybe, I want to leave an impact. I want the park to create a program where they do outreach for students my age who are mainly Latinos and have never been anywhere near the Everglades. I want everyone to come out and do something they would never do on their own. I want everyone to experience the Everglades the way that I have been able to this summer.

Visit your closest National Park. Be one with nature.

Until next time,
Dani

(Photo credits to Cesar Zamora and myself)