To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we are taking the opportunity to highlight Latinx leaders working in conservation who inspire us!

Today we get to learn about Miriam Hernandez! We asked her about her career and her experiences as a Latina working in conservation.

Thank you again to the SCBNA team for featuring me in the Hispanic Heritage month profile! It’s an honor to be highlighted. I am the Finance Manager on the Society for Conservation Biology Global Services team and assist with finances and administrative operations of the Society. I am proud to be a Hispanic woman working for the Society and among many colleagues that care about conservation, protecting our planet and its flora and fauna and disseminating conservation practices around the world.

The Latinx community is vast and diverse with passionate people connected and committed to the protection and well-being of our Earth. To be a part of this community means to protect what we cherish and look out for one another. From my upbringing, I was taught that Earth provides everything we need to survive: food, shelter, water. Earth provides life so it is my, and our, purpose to take care of it, to be stewards of the Earth. I love being part of an organization that strives to make a difference in the world whatever way it can and cares about connecting scientists, students and professionals from all countries, backgrounds, beliefs. Everything from ICCBs and webinars to programs and journals, SCB aims to provide as many resources as possible for members. Knowing that I am a piece of the puzzle working to advance conservation efforts makes me feel proud and happy and I hope to be an example to others around me.


Thank you so much to Miriam for sharing with us!

Check out our profiles of other Latinx leaders in conservation who were generous enough to share their stories with us: Mayor Regina RomeroMirna Manteca, and Sergio Avila.

To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we are taking the opportunity to highlight Latinx leaders working in conservation who inspire us!

Today we are featuring Sergio Avila! We asked him to share about his career path and his experiences as a person of color working in conservation.

Sergio was born in Mexico City (1972) and grew up in Zacatecas, Mexico. He’s an immigrant to the United States, living in Tohono O’odham and Yaqui lands, known as Tucson, Arizona. He was first hired by the University of Arizona in 2004, and became a U.S. Citizen in 2016.  Sergio is a husband, son, brother, uncle and cousin; a trail runner; and an outspoken justice and equity advocate.

Sergio holds a Master’s degree (Arid Ecosystems Management & Wildlife Research) from University of Baja California; and a Bachelor’s in Biology (University of Aguascalientes), both in Mexico. For twenty-five years, Sergio has worked on regional conservation efforts along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. His varied experience includes living with the Indigenous Tarahumara of the Sierra Madre (1998), and ranching communities of Sonora (2003), which transformed his vision of environmental stewardship and conservation. Avila tracked and studied borderland jaguars and ocelots in the southwest United States and northwest Mexico for 10 years. Two live encounters with jaguars in the mountains of Sonora were life-changing experiences that shaped Sergio’s personal and professional life. He has led efforts to protect Monarch butterflies’ migration, studied Cactus-ferruginous pygmy-owls in the Sonoran Desert, and mountain lion predation on bighorn sheep in Baja California. 

Throughout his career, Sergio has felt invisible, alone, and not represented in the environmental and conservation communities as a person of color, feeling forced to ‘code switch’ and ‘fit in’ in spaces, instead of feeling true belonging. While studying borderland jaguars and monitoring the impacts of border wall construction, Avila became directly aware of U.S. immigration policies and enforcement. Continued racial profiling, harrassement and threats by the U.S. Border Patrol caused Avila to stop jaguar research along the borderlands. Due to personal and professional events like those described above, Sergio left conservation science and now works with the Sierra Club as an advocate for equitable and inclusive outings programs that allow underrepresented communities to enjoy and protect Nature, elevate Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and shine a light to broader engagement opportunities than the typical scientific or recreational interests of the dominating white conservation movement.

Sergio admires Arizona Congressman and Chair of the Natural Resources Committee in U.S. Congress, Raul Grijalva. An inspiring leader, decision-maker and representative who demonstrates that conservation and care for the environment does not require an academic degree, diplomas or publications.


Thank you so much to Sergio for sharing his experiences with us. You can keep up with him by following him on Instagram.

Stay tuned to hear from more Latinx leaders in conservation this month! In case you missed it, check out our last highlights of Mayor Regina Romero and Mirna Manteca.

This National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we celebrating by highlighting Latinx conservation leaders who inspire us!

Today we introduce you to Mirna Manteca, Mexico Program Road Ecology Coordinator at Wildlands Network. We asked her to share about how her conservation goals have shaped her career and about her experiences as a Latina working in conservation.

I’m Mexico Program Road Ecology Coordinator for Wildlands Network based in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. I lead the road ecology projects in Sonora, working in research, management, and communications in conjunction with NGOs and government agencies to advocate for the establishment of appropriate mitigation structures in our highways and reconnect our landscapes and wildlife. I’m co-chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Transport Working Group of the IUCN’s Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group, and co-founder and co-director of the Asociación Mujeres y Conservación, a volunteer initiative that aims to empower, highlight, and support women conservationists in Latin America. In my day-to-day work, I try to foster local leadership, whether it be a senior road engineer or a young biology student, I believe there is much power in local community-led conservation.


I feel proud to be a Hispanic conservationist! I’m often asked if I feel afraid or unsafe working and living on the Mexico side of the borderlands, and the truth is the only time I have feared for my safety was during bitter experiences with the Border Patrol on the US side. I might have been a professional conservation scientist doing my job, but I was still judged by my nationality and my color.


In spite of the overwhelming conservation and environmental justice issues all over the world, there is a quote that never ceases to inspire me from Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader murdered in 2016: “Juntémonos y sigamos con esperanza defendiendo y cuidando la sangre de la tierra y los espíritus.”


Thank you so much to Mirna for sharing her experiences. To keep up with her work, you can follow her on Instagram: Mirna, Wildlands NetworkLACTWG, and Asociación Mujeres y Conservación.

Stay tuned for more profiles on Latinx in conservation! In case you missed it, check out our last highlight of Mayor Regina Romero.

To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we are taking the opportunity to highlight Latinx leaders working in conservation who inspire us!

First up, we are fortunate to hear from Regina Romero, the Mayor of Tucson, Arizona. We asked her to share about how her conservation goals have shaped her career and about her experiences as a Latina working in conservation.

As the daughter of immigrant farmworkers who were exposed to extreme heat and pesticides, I have and continue to advocate for climate and environmental justice. For 12 years I represented Tucson’s Ward 1 on the City Council, where I championed water and pristine land conservation policies, advanced infill and transit-oriented development, and supported immigrant and workers’ rights. In November 2019, I became the first woman and first Latina Mayor in Tucson. As Mayor, in addition to keeping Tucsonans safe during the global health crisis, I have also been addressing the climate crisis by declaring a local Climate Emergency that commits Tucson to become a net zero city by 2030.

Latinx have always been conservationists, even if we didn’t always use that title. Our abuelas taught us to use renewable off-the-grid energy to dry our clothes in tendederos, to reuse our yogurt and jam containers, and to plant trees and grow vegetables in our homes. I continue to draw inspiration from my elders and from leaders such as Dolores Huerta, whose work intersects the environmental justice, labor rights and feminist movements. As a woman of color, to me “conservation” means holistically addressing racial, environmental, and other social justice issues.


Thank you so much to Mayor Romero for sharing her experiences with us. Make sure to keep up with her on social media by following her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Stay tuned to hear from more Latinx leaders in conservation this month!

2021 Student Affairs Webinar Series
SCB North America’s Student Affairs Committee is hosting a 2021 webinar series on topics of interest to conservation students, early-career professionals, and others!

The sixth webinar in the series is:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Conservation Practice & Research

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

7-8 am PT | 10-11 am ET

Join us as we discuss the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation practice and research with Sheena Talma, Science Programme Manager of Nekton Foundation, and Dr. Paris Stefanoudis, Marine Biologist at the University of Oxford and Nekton Foundation.

Registration is required, please register at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUoceCqpjstE9IjZkpDH77kPDWnNe5DiE9M

Webinars are available to both SCB members and non-members. Webinars will be recorded and posted to the SCBNA YouTube Page – subscribe so you are notified when new recordings are posted! The first five webinar recordings are now available:

Please contact megan.keville@scbnorthamerica.org with any questions related to the webinar series.

The webinar recording for the fourth in the 2021 SCBNA Student Affairs Webinar Series is now available on the SCB North America YouTube Page. Ecosystems have been occupied, managed, & conserved since time immemorial. Pairing Indigenous Knowledge with western science, each with their own integrity, can allow for a more comprehensive view of ecosystem changes and species interactions.

In this webinar, panelists discuss key concepts and case studies. We are grateful to the following panelists for sharing their fascinating insights, research and experiences with us in this webinar: Dr. Lynn Lee, Marine Ecologist, and Niisii Guujaaw, Resource Conservation Biologist, at Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Dr. Sonia Ibarra, Coordinator for the Tamamta Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Dr. Andrea Reid, PI. at the University of British Columbia Centre for Indigenous Fisheries.

The next webinar in the series will take place on May 26 at 12pm PT / 3pm ET: Conservation and Social Science: Harnessing Interdisciplinary Methods for Complex Issues. More information and the link to register are available here.

Many thanks to the Student Affairs Subcommittee for organizing this series.

If you are interested in joining the subcommittee, please email the Chair, Melissa Cronin: mecronin@ucsc.edu

tan image with light and dark blue text that reads: Society for Conservation Biology North America 2021 Student Affairs Webinar Series: Multiple Ways of Knowing in Conservation and Ecology, May 13, 2021, 12-1:30pm PT | 3-4:30pm ET. Under text are four photos of webinar speakers out in the field.

2021 Student Affairs Webinar Series
SCB North America’s Student Affairs Committee is hosting a 2021 webinar series on topics of interest to conservation students, early-career professionals, and others!

The fourth webinar in the monthly series is:

Multiple Ways of Knowing in Conservation and Ecology

Thursday, May 13

12-1:30pm PT | 3-4:30pm ET

Ecosystems have been occupied, managed, & conserved since time immemorial. Pairing Indigenous Knowledge with western science, each with their own integrity, can allow for a more comprehensive view of ecosystem changes and species interactions.

Join us as we discuss key concepts and case studies with (left to right in image above) Dr. Lynn Lee, Marine Ecologist, and Niisii Guujaaw, Resource Conservation Biologist, at Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Dr. Sonia Ibarra, Coordinator for the Tamamta Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Dr. Andrea Reid, PI. at the University of British Columbia Centre for Indigenous Fisheries

Registration is required, please register at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcqdOqqrjIjE92xfutWrPVrMDLHprgv5c3J

Webinars are available to both SCB members and non-members. Webinars will be recorded and posted to the SCBNA YouTube Page – subscribe so you are notified when new recordings are posted! The first three webinar recordings are now available:


This is the fourth in our series of monthly webinars; stay tuned for more!

Please contact megan.keville@scbnorthamerica.org with any questions related to the webinar series.

This March, to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, SCB North America is highlighting women in conservation who inspire us.

Today we’re speaking with Dr. Aby Sène-Harper. We asked her to share a little about what she does and about her experience as a woman in conservation.

I am an assistant professor in conservation area management at Clemson University. As an environmental social scientist, my research has evolved in relation to the social, ecological and political contexts of our time. My focus has predominantly been on community-based conservation, protected area management and rural livelihoods. The past 2 years, however, have made it abundantly clear that we are living in an era of heightened awareness of racial injustices and a deepening ecological crisis that disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous people around the world. The urgency of the moment has forced me to redirect my scholarship towards a more radical transformation of the social and global order. To quote Native American environmental activist, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, “Colonization is inherently an environmental justice issue,” and I believe this to be true for colonized people around the world who are still living in the grips of settler and neo-colonialism. In fact, many Black revolutionaries understood that the only way to address the ecological crisis is through full decolonization, as in the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. Conservationists often treat colonization as a thing of the past, when conservation programs continue to reproduce colonial power relations that exacerbate environmental destruction. Therefore, my work today engages more anti-colonial and Black radical thought to examine the imbrication of colonization, environmental destruction and injustices, and Black peoples’ political struggle.

I am a Black woman in the conservation field and the intersectionality of my race and gender poses some challenges and opportunities at the same time. Although I am dedicated to conservation issues, I also feel a strong responsibility to respond to the political and social needs of Black people. So, I am always in a constant internal struggle to balance these priorities. On top of that, as a Black woman working in a white male dominated field and even department, it can feel very isolating at times. Even if women are more represented today than they were before, it’s predominantly white women who are represented. But there are far more Black women across the globe engaged in conservation than we are aware of, and unfortunately several factors inhibit their visibility. That includes the lack of resources to access public platforms. There is also a tendency of the conservation movement to sideline Black and Indigenous women to instead amplify white women’s voices. This is exemplified in the amount of publicity Greta Thunberg and Jane Goodall have received in comparison to Vanessa Nakate and Wangari Maathai, and the countless Indigenous women activists who are in the front line of these issues. We must move beyond the colonial images of white women and men doing conservation work in Africa and highlight the extensive and everyday work that Black and Indigenous women are doing in conservation. We must be open to the ways Black and Indigenous women understand and choose to address conservation issues, because the aspirations and values systems of Black and Indigenous women are rooted in their social and political realities and often differ from those of white women. 


Thank you so much to Dr. Sène-Harper for sharing her experiences with us. To keep up with her work, follow her on Twitter at @AbySene9.

Check out stories from other women we’ve highlighted this month:

This March, to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, SCB North America is highlighting women in conservation who inspire us.

Kelly Zenkewich is the Communications and Digital Engagement Manager at the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. We asked her to share about her experience as a woman in conservation and who inspires her.

Looking back, my earliest memories of being interested in conservation were tied to writing or communicating in some way. From my early years of eagerly waiting for deliveries of Ranger Rick magazine to later making my own “newspapers” about mountain gorilla conservation, I always cared about nature. Later on I created my own field guide to the lizards and insects I saw in my backyard in southern Thailand and I definitely read every informational placard while visiting the Singapore Zoo, irritating my family to no end. From where I am now, it seems so obvious this was a route I’d take.

Yet for many years I was unsure of how I could combine my personal passions, academic knowledge, and professional interests. During my undergrad in biological sciences, lab or field work never really appealed to me so I worked at a newspaper for a while, but everything came together when I joined Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. We’re an international environmental non-profit with a big mission: to connect and protect habitat so that people and nature thrive. This work doesn’t get done alone, so we collaborate with hundreds of partners on conservation projects in the region stretching from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to Canada’s Yukon Territory.

There, as communications and digital engagement manager, I get to do the things I love most: help translate science so it’s accessible and actionable, inspire folks who are passionate about the people, places and wildlife in the Yellowstone to Yukon region to get involved, and share incredible photos and stories. I consider myself science-adjacent, but my work is completely fulfilling and in a role I did not even knew existed when I was in university.

Being a woman in conservation shapes my world view and approach. For one, I try to be aware of representation and inclusion in the ways I communicate, make decisions, and how I spotlight others. This applies to the stories and content we share at Y2Y, and in the groups I work in, too. While my work doesn’t take me into the field much, being a female hunter conservationist has been an incredible experience — I cherish this way of connecting with nature and culture.

Working in conservation can be challenging, so it pays to find a good crew of tough people and mentors who challenge and support you. For me, some of those people happen to be amazing women. Y2Y has an incredible array of scientists, advocates, communicators, and conservationists on our board and staff who drive me to be better everyday — the things they accomplish astound me. Their passion is contagious.

My friends also inspire me: many are women in science working on research and issues related to climate change, raptors, remediation, and marine conservation regionally and globally, so I am incredibly lucky to be a part of their world. These women are making a difference — I’m happy to be there to assist.


Thank you so much to Kelly for sharing her experiences with us. Keep up with Y2Y and see Kelly’s work in action at:

About Y2Y: http://y2y.net/about

Instagram @y2y_initiative/ 

Twitter @Y2Y_Initiative

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Yellowstone2Yukon/


Check out stories from other women we’ve highlighted this month:

This March, to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, SCB North America is highlighting women in conservation who inspire us.

Today we’re talking with Dr. Alysha Cypher. We asked her to share a little about what she does, about her experience as a woman in conservation, and to name a woman who inspires her.

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova Alaska. I’m a conservation scientist at heart but have worked in toxicology, physiology, and now I am working on migration patterns of Pacific herring using acoustic telemetry.  Science is a labor of love and my connection with nature has driven my career. I owe that in part to Rachel Carson. I’ve read all her books and am from a similar area in western Pennsylvania. We both grew up daydreaming about the ocean and her words seemed to always describe exactly how I felt about nature. The woman could make seaweed sound like the best thing since sliced bread.

I think it’s an exciting time to be a woman in conservation science.  Over the next couple decades we will see a shift in empowerment at the higher levels of academia and government that will better represent the diversity of people who actually work in this field. It’s already happening and other areas of STEM need to catch up.


Thank you so much to Dr. Cypher for sharing her experiences with us. Check out stories from other women we’ve highlighted this month: